Since I shared my Pad See Ew ผัดซีอิ้ว recipe, many people have told me that they can't find the fresh rice noodles. And when the dry ones really are not nearly as good, the only other sensible option is to make it. And you'll be glad to know it's not that hard!
Choosing the right pan
Choosing the right pan to steam the noodles is perhaps the hardest part of this whole thing. The ideal pan should release the noodles cleanly without too much stickiness left behind, leaving noodles smooth on the underside.
When I filmed the video originally, the noodles released beautifully from the pan I used. But when I tried other pans later, I found some did not release as well and created a sticky bottom. Still usable in dishes, but they were more difficult to work with and needed more oil in between the sheets.
I found that the pan surface needs to be super smooth in order for things to release cleanly. Stainless steel, glass, porcelaine, or some nonstick surfaces are great. Aluminum and some rougher non-stick pans are not as great.
Thinner pans are also better because they cool down much faster, allowing you to move from one plate to the next quickly.
Creating Optimal Noodles
Many Thai recipes for fresh rice noodles calls for kneading the flour with a small amount of water first before adding the rest of the water to dissolve the dough into a batter. The kneading essentially forces the starch molecules to absorb water more readily, allowing the starch to hydrate more fully. The longer you knead, the better.
Why does this matter? Because fully-hydrated starch yields softer, shinier, and chewier noodles.
I was curious about this phenomenon, and a chain of introductions led me to Dr. Teeprakorn Kongraksawech, a food scientist from Oregon State University who told me:
In an industry level, a flour slurry is allowed to equilibrate for many hours before cooking it so flour becomes fully hydrated. A study compared noodles made from a 27-hr slurry vs a 3-hr slurry. The 27-hr slurry noodles were shinier, softer, and chewier. For a household/small-scale level, we may not want to wait that long. Slowly adding water and kneading will allow the flour to absorb more water.
So there, you can either knead or wait for the perfect noodles.
Use your fresh rice noodles in...
Fresh Rice Noodles (ho fun)
- Pastry brush
- Nonstick or stainless steel cake pan
- 1 cup rice flour
- ½ cup tapioca starch
- 1 ½ cups water
- ¼-⅓ cup Vegetable oil, for brushing
FULL VIDEO TUTORIAL
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- In a mixing bowl, add the rice flour and the tapioca starch and whisk to combine.
- Add a little water at a time and mix just until it can form into a dough, then knead it for about 5 minutes, or longer if you feel up to it, then add the remaining water to dissolve the dough into a batter.Note: The noodles will work without kneading, but the kneading forces the starch to absorb more water faster and become more fully hydrated, which results in shinier, softer, and chewier texture. Alternatively, you can skip the kneading and just add all the water, then rest the batter, allowing the starch to hydrate with time. You'd rest the batter ideally for 1 day, or at least 1 hour, but the longer the better.
- Preheat the steamer and bring the water to a boil. Brush your pan with oil and then use paper towel to remove any excess. Pour in an amount of batter that would yield noodles that are about 1/16 inch or 1.5 mm; you will need to do some testing given the size of your pan.
- Place the pan into the steamer, and jiggle it so that the batter covers the entire pan if needed. Steam for about 2 minutes or until fully cooked.
- Remove the pan from the steamer, then brush a generous amount of oil on top. Once it's cool enough to handle, peel the noodles from the pan and place it on a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, placing subsequent sheets on top of the first one. If there is a thick side (can happen if your stove isn't completely flat), make sure you put the thick side of the sheets on the same side so we can trim them.
- Once you have all the noodles, trim off a side that is too thick if necessary (see video for example). Then cut into strips. For Pad see ew or pad kee mao, I prefer noodles that are about ¾ inch thick. For noodle soups, I prefer ½-inch.