Sharp, Sweet, Spicy Noodles

August 11, 2010

On a hot summer morning (today), this is the kind of breakfast that promises a wonderful day ahead. With a slice of icy melon, and a few birds singing just outside, it makes me very happy to be alive.

Thai Noodles

Soak 6 to 8 ounces of the thinnest rice noodles (sometimes called rice sticks or rice vermicelli) in hot water for about ten minutes, or until they go limp. Drain and set aside.

Peel a half pound of shrimp and dry them well. If they’re big, cut them in half.

Dice the whites of 4 scallions, and slice the green parts into confetti. Smash 2 or 3 cloves of garlic.

Mix a quarter cup of sugar with a quarter cup of Asian fish sauce and a quarter cup of white vinegar. Squeeze in the juice of one lime.

Put a half cup of peanuts into a plastic bag and hit it with something heavy – a rolling pin works well – until the peanuts are crushed.

Assemble all of this next to the stove, along with a half pound of ground pork, a couple of eggs and some crushed red chile flakes.

Working quickly, heat a large wok and film it with peanut oil until it shimmers. Add the shrimp, toss them just until they’re no longer transparent, and turn them onto a platter. Add a bit more oil to the wok, toss in the garlic, stir, add the scallions and then the pork, stirring until it’s no longer red. Throw in the drained noodles, give it a couple of stirs, and pour in the fish sauce mixture. Cook, at high heat, about 7 minutes, until the noodles have absorbed all the liquid. Push them aside, crack one egg into the bottom of the wok ,tilting so that it forms a sheet. When it has set, mix it into the noodles, then repeat with the other egg. Toss it all about, add the shrimp and the scallion greens and chiles, and toss once again. Turn out onto a platter and top with crushed peanuts.

Serve with lime wedges and Sriracha sauce.

This will feed 4 people at breakfast (or 3 at dinner, with a little leftover for the first one up in the morning).

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  • Not sure about breakfast, but OMW my family would scarf this down for dinner. Sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing!
    -Becki D

  • Heidij74 says:

    I actually made this the other day, based on the recipe in your book which is essentially the same. Didn’t work so well — the noodles soaked up all of the fish sauce/vinegar, sugar immediately as I poured it in, so there was no “sauciness” and the flavor did not permeate the noodles at all. What gives?
    BTW, really enjoyed “Comfort me with Apples” and am in the middle of “Garlic and Sapphires”, which I am also enjoying very much. Really love that you posted that actual reviews in the latter!

  • Ruth Reichl says:

    Heidi _ There is no sauce in these noodles; the point is for the noodles to absorb the liquid. And it’s hard to imagine the flavor vanishing; fish sauce is so strong – and there’s a lot of it. Not to mention the vinegar is not exactly a shrinking violet. I make these all the time and have never had any trouble with them, but I’m so sorry that you did. They’re a serious favorite in our house.

  • Neimoyer says:

    Hi Ruth,
    Thanks for this recipe; this sounds phenomenally tasty! The flavors in this are a great way to start the day: bold, assertive, and take-charge!
    As someone who is allergic to eggs –which will preclude them from this recipe, unfortunately– I am always on the hunt for breakfast foods that are off the well-beaten (heh, eggs, well-beaten… get it? okay, I’ll stop now) path that contains the usual suspects of quiche and omlettes and waffles and…
    Though I do get funny looks when I mention that I grilled vegetables and sausage for breakfast… 🙂

  • Macpuppy says:

    People think I’m mad having noodles for breakfast, good to know I’m not alone. I can’t wait to try this recipe, it seems quite a bit lighter than a regular pad thai. I’m thinking this with some scallion pancakes would be an excellent way to start the day!

  • Ruth Reichl says:

    Mike: The eggs are so not necessary to this recipe. They do add an interesting textural element, but the noodles are great without them. Enjoy!

  • This sounds incredible. Especially the idea of having them for breakfast. I’m a savory kind of breakfast eater. I also recently discovered how easy it is to make nuoc cham sauce which sounds a bit like the sauce you made here. It’s so delicious and great on cold noodles on a hot day.

  • Colu Henry says:

    I made these last night and they were outrageously good and surprisingly rich. Served Napa cabbage that I had sauteed with ginger and garlic on the side. A new staple in our household for sure! I’d also eat these for breakfast and day!

  • beth says:

    These are just delicious. I’ve been making these for a couple of months now, they are so flavorful and good. I have a hard time keeping it to one portion! Bravo.