The more I record my steps to make recipes for this blog, the more I realize that it is so difficult to make exact recipes for dishes! There are so many variables in cooking- how powerful is your stove? How thick are your ‘julienned’ carrots? How big is one dried shiitake mushroom versus another? What type of salt? Even just for kosher salt, Diamond brand versus Morton brand have different sized flakes of salt- Morton brand is noticeably saltier per pinch of salt (try it!). Some soy sauces are super salty (cough Kikkoman red), and others are not as salty (Pearl River Bridge, for instance). I aim to provide as good of instructions as possible, but there are some variables I can’t account for. That being said, please use the recipes I post, but also use your tastebuds and intuition to guide you, even if that means straying from the exact amounts and such!
Stir-fried Thin Rice
chao mi fen (tsao mi fen)
Makes 4 hearty “carb” servings
1) Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a wok until it’s hot.
2) Add pork, shallots, shiitake mushrooms and shrimp, and sautee until the meat is fully cooked. Transfer everything into a bowl.
3) On low heat, add 2 Tbsp oil, soy sauce, water, and white pepper.
4) Still on low heat, add mi fen to pot, and mix thoroughly to evenly incorporate liquid into the noodles.
5) Move noodles to one side, add the cabbage and carrots. Two options here: a) Either constantly move the noodles and vegetables around to mix and cook the vegetables or b) cover the vegetables with the noodles so that the vegetables are on the bottom, cover, and cook on low.
Whichever you choose, the goal is to get the vegetables just cooked- not mushy.
6) Once the vegetables are cooked, add the meat mixture back in, as well as blanched squid (if you are using it）, and stir just enough to heat them back up. Season with salt and extra white pepper, if you like.
-Don’t be overzealous with the heat; rice noodles will stick to the wok if the heat is too high, and you don’t want to be constantly adding oil, otherwise it will end up tasting very greasy.
-Having mise en place is highly recommended for this dish, because of all the different ingredients and steps that go into it.
-If you like smooth-surfaced looking pork, add some cornstarch (about 1-1 1/2 tsp) to the pork. I chose not to add it to mine, so I could add less oil. (Cornstarch tends to get the pan gummy if there isn’t enough oil)
-I used proportions that fit Tim’s and my dietary preferences- that is, lots of vegetables and just some meat/protein for flavoring. Feel free to increase or decrease the amounts to your liking, of course.
-There are zillions of soy sauce brands out there, so you may need to decrease the salt and/or soy sauce to fit your taste. My preferred soy sauce (Pearl River Bridge) is on the sweeter side and I prefer less sugar in my savory dishes, so I am very selective about adding sugar to recipes. If your soy sauce is saltier (like Kikkoman red brand), I would recommend starting with adding half a teaspoon of sugar in step 3) to balance the salty.
-Pork is to Taiwan as chicken is to the US. If you don’t eat pork, feel free to use chicken or pork, or even firm tofu (?!), but know that pork is what you’d find in Taiwan.
-For the squid:
1) Make sure to clean the squid by taking the guts out, as well as the clear cartilage (?) from inside. Peel off the purpley, spotted film that covers the squid.
2) To slice the squid so that it curls nicely, use a sharp knife to make shallow cuts (not all the way through) lengthwise, then crosswise, to make a crosshatch pattern. Then, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.
3) To blanch squid, immerse squid into boiling water and immediately then use a slotted spoon to scoop out all the squid and preferably into a colander, or pot of cold water. In the absence of a small colander, I dumped the squid into a collapsible steamer basket.