Monthly Archives: December 2015

My Favorite Rice Noodle Brands for PAD THAI and other noodle dishes

Our favorite place to eat was Thai Orchid for thier Pad Thai

Pad Thai

 The noodles you use when making Pad Thai (or Pho, or any other Asian dish) is a very important recipe ingredient, just as pasta is when making some glorious Italian dish. Here are some of my favorites and between them, you should be able to find one in your region. You can also order online (but unless you buy in bulk it is a more expensive route). These rice noodles are no more expensive (and in lots of cases cheaper) than domestic brands so you will not have to feel guilty about buying them!

Roland Pad Thai Noodle Brand

Roland Pad Thai Noodle Brand – These noodles cost anywhere from $2.49 to $3.49

 This brand imported by the Roland Company is a product of Thailand. This company is a great place to find lots of really wonderful food products from around the world.

Rice Noodles

Rice Noodles  – These noodles are Erawan Brand and this company has a huge variety of noodles that are fun to experiment with. They are great value at $2.49

I can get these noodles from a supermarket that is pretty close to me. They come in S,M or L and this refers to the width. Sometimes I like the thin variety in soups and the widest (L) works great for Pad Thai, but it really is a matter of taste and your mood.

The large style from the Erawan Brand Noodle

The large style from the Erawan Brand Noodle

The packaging is exactly the same when it comes to all of these noodle brands but each width is a different color. So, if you put this item on your shopping list and like me, send your man out to the store (no real attention span when it comes to grocery shopping), make sure to note the color of the package or this simple task will become a nightmare.

Pork Pad Thai

Pork Pad Thai

Most of the packages say to prep the noodles by soaking in warm water but I find that this isn’t enough to get the texture I’m looking for. I don’t like soggy noodles by any means but the soaking method can leave the noodles hard on the inside and sort of gummy on the outside. My method is to plunge them into boiling water and let them cook until just al dente (have a toothsome bite) and then rinse in colander with lots of cold water. I can then toss them into my pan for Pad Thai or into a cooked soup. They warm up very quickly. You will have to experiment a little, depending on the brand (then it’s a good idea to write  what worked for you).

Main ingredients for Pad thai

Some of the key ingredients for Pad Thai (scallions, beansprouts, carrots, limes and of course, rice noodles

 Also, don’t limit yourself to Pad Thai and Pho. I use rice noodles for lots of other dishes that have a tenuous at best, Asian twist (which might only be soy sauce or sriracha sauce). It is lighter than pasta and for those Gluten Free people out there it is just the ticket.

This is the medium width from the brand Asian Best distributed by EastLand Corp

This is the medium width from the brand Asian Best distributed by EastLand Corp

I hope this has taken a little of the mystery out of buying rice noodles, but if in doubt, buy a brand with Thailand’s most revered animal on the package: the elephant.

Stir-fried beef with rice noodles

Stir-fried beef with rice noodles

  Once you try noodles from a country where it is a diet stable, you will never buy domestic noodles again!

Rice Noodles

Three Elephants Brand Rice Noodles

MUSHROOM CREAM – A GREAT PANTRY ITEM. Forget Campbells – Make your own!

Who uses Campbell’s Condensed Mushroom Cream Soup as a flavor agents, or sauce enhancer?? It does have the power to add a burst of flavor to a dish but it is not some magic elixir that you cannot make and freeze yourself and have ready to use at a moment’s notice.

Passing these georgeous mushrooms in Rome made me long for my kitchen awaiting me in Cortona

 Took this gorgeous picture of  mushrooms in Rome (you can make your mushroom cream from exotic mushrooms like these, but using what you can find near you is fine too, and what I did this time around)

OR, have you ever made a stew, soup or sauce that felt lacklustre and needed a flavor booster of some kind? This can be frustrating and sometimes it ends up with you adding possibly too much salt to compensate and ruining the dish. A concentrated cube of mushroom cream is a great foil for situations like this and I am going to give you an easy recipe and a handy way to have some on hand – yeh!

add cream and stock

Making Mushroom Cream Enricher is easy and simple cream and stock

Make a big batch of this when you are in the mood to potter in the kitchen or you are trapped there watching something in the oven but have nothing to do besides. It will become a little lifesaver!

Handy cubes of mushroom cream

Handy cubes of mushroom cream

These cubes are good thawed and served over steak, lamb or chicken. They make a great filling for little vol-au-vents or a filling for little pastry appetizers. They are a good base for a sauce (just add more cream or stock to the cubes and you have an instant pasta sauce). They be used to boost and bolster the  flavor of a stew or soup (just add a cube or two and taste).

Cook for 3 hours at 275*

Adding a couple of cubes of mushroom cream to a beef stew for example can boost and enhance flavor

 

Mushroom Cream Stock Cubes (makes 32 large ice-cube-sized cubes)

You will need:

2 tbs unsalted butter

1 sweet or yellow onion – finely chopped

2 cloves garlic – finely chopped

1lb mushrooms (use all different kinds together or one kind – anything will work) – sliced

1 cup (have more on hand) heavy cream

salt and freshly ground black pepper (for seasoning)

optional fresh herbs: 1 tbs freshly chopped parsley, I tsp chopped thyme leaves

Method:

1 – Put large saute pan on low to medium heat and add a 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onions and garlic and cover with lid. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove to a plate

2 – Add a tablespoon of the butter and half of the sliced mushrooms. Season with a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Turn heat up to high (or just below) and cook mushrooms until they brown. Remove and add the rest of the butter and mushrooms (remembering to season with salt and pepper), and continue to cook until they are done.

saute mushrooms in batches in butter until browned..

saute mushrooms in batches in butter until browned..

3 – Return the onions and cooked mushrooms back to the pan along with the cream and herbs and let it come to a simmer. Turn off pan and let it cool.

4 – When it is warm or totally cooled, add the mushrooms in batches with a slotted spoon (so as not to fill up your processor with liquid) to your food processor or blender and pulverize to a rough texture. When it is all blended, mix back into the cream and stir to distribute.

add cream and simmer for 5 minutes...

add cream and bring to a simmer.

5 – When it is cold, spoon into two ice-cube trays and place in the freezer. (I got some of the cheap plastic kind from my supermarket and they worked great). When frozen, pop them out and into freezer bags. They can be stored for up to 6 months in your freezer and used whenever you need them.

Roast Chicken with stuffing & veggies.

Can be added to your roast Chicken pan sauce

 OR

top with a sprinkle of the cheese of the gods! (parmaiagiano reggiano)

Add to pasta to make a quick and delicious pasta sauce