January 5, 2010

Noodles, Rice and Veggie Alternatives

Just a quickie this one. If like me you struggle to perfect your rice or noodles even when you do exactly what the packet says (I know it's not our fault), here are a few tips I picked up from my teacher at Asia Scenic cookery school in Chang Mai.

Also thrown in at the bottom are a few veggie alternatives.

Glass Noodles

Unless you're using these in a soup, sometimes they just seem to all stick together, no matter how hard I try.

To cook, boil some hot water in a pan and then transfer to a heat proof bowl. Leave for a couple of mins to cool slightly and then add in the glass noodles. You should leave them in for around 10 minutes - not enough that they are completely cooked, but still just a little bit hard.

Next, drain them under cold water, and leave to drip drain for a while. If you're adding them to a stir-fry or a soup, they will finish cooking by soaking up the liquid ingredients.


A steamer is the best option here, but if you've only got a pan to hand, start by adding enough water to cover the rice by about 2 cm and just leave it to do it's job. Avoid stirring until cooked through.

I've been told old rice is better to cook with than new, so if you've got a packet that's bit hanging around the back of the cupboard a bit too long, that's probably the best option.

Sticky Rice

Sticky rice is different to other rice, for example you have different categories like Basmati, Jasmine etc, and thus you can't make sticky rice from the regular stuff.

Sticky rice needs to be soaked for at least 6 hours (better overnight). Drain the water, put into a strainer and drain with clean water. Cook in a steamer for 20 - 30 minutes, then remove to a heat proof dish and cover for up to 30 minutes before dishing up or cooking with.

Check out the Mango and Sticky Rice recipe for something delicieux!

Veggie Alternatives

For stir fries, soy sauce can be substituted for fish sauce, and mushroom sauce can be substituted for oyster sauce.

For soups and curries use 1/2 teaspoon of salt instead.

For meat, use tofu or mushrooms.

NB If you come across yellow tofu, don't be put off, it has merely been dyed with tumeric for aesthetic purposes, and does not taste any different to the usual white stuff.

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