Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chao Mi Fen

If you're Chinese, you call this mi-fen. If you're Filipino, you call this pancit. If you're Malaysian, you call this bihon. In America, they call it Rice Vermicelli. Regardless of what you call it, I call it yummy!

Asian foods have a lot of overlap. I had a friend in high school who was Korean, and we used to have arguments, along with a Filipino friend of mine, on whether something our moms made was Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, etc. And if she couldn't win the argument, she'd just throw her hands up in the air and declare "It's Mongolian! We all descended from Mongolia!" Whether or not that's true, I don't know (I suck at history), but it was her way of saying "If I can't win, no one can!" :)

I like that there's a lot of overlap in the types of food Asians make and I love how each culture puts their own little spin on the same dish. In fact, even within each culture, there are countless ways to make this dish. I learned this way from my mom, but I've never seen it made like this in a restaurant or anyone else's house, which makes me think that she made it up to get me to eat more carrots, but who knows. Regardless, it's what I grew up with and what I enjoy, so I continue on the tradition by making this way too.

I know it looks like a scary amount of carrots, but somehow, it just works. The carrots lend a sweetness to the dish that I really enjoy and it doesn't taste too carrot-y. Plus it gives the dish color and makes it pretty. It's also a great way to use up carrots that have been sitting in the fridge for waaay too long!

This is my submission to Presto Pasta Nights, a wonderful event created by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast, which is being hosted by Joanne of Eats Well with Others. Check out the roundup at the end of the week for more noodly goodness.

- Half a bag of dried rice vermicelli
- 5 carrots
- Half a head of napa cabbage
- 2 to 3 chicken breasts or pork chops
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce

- Soak the rice vermicelli in water while prepping the other ingredients. It should be soft and pliable by the time you need to use it, which should take about 10 minutes or so. Soaking it longer does no harm.
- Slice the chicken or pork into thin strips of about a quarter inch thick. If you want bigger pieces of meat, that's fine too, there are no real rules to this.
- Mix in a bit of soy sauce and corn starch with the chicken/pork to marinate and tenderize it.
- Peel and shred the carrots. I find the shredding blade of the food processor especially handy for this task.
- Wash and thinly slice the napa cabbage. You can use more or less if you'd like, or use regular cabbage or even other veggies such as spinach if you'd like too. There's a lotta flexibility here. My mom used napa cabbage, so that's what I use too.
- Heat a bit of oil in a large pot or wok.
- Put the marinated meat into the pot/wok and stir it until it's about 80% cooked through. You can add more soy or oil if it seems to be sticking to the pan too much.
- Add the carrots and cabbage and give everything a good stir. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top and put the lid on. Check on it every few minutes, giving it a stir if necessary, until the carrots and cabbage have wilted and softened significantly.
- Add the soaked noodles in and flavor with soy and oyster sauce to taste. Stir everything together until the noodles are soft. If the pan keeps drying out while you're stirring or the noodles are too hard, add more water.
- I love to serve this with Sriracha sauce.


Jo said...

Delicious dish. I'd cook this once in a while and my husband will finish off 2 platefuls. He likes this a whole lot.

petite nyonya said...

I totally support everything you said. 1st of all, I love fried bee hoon & it's really yummy & 2ndly, too many Asians fighting to claim the food of their heritage. I agree that Asian food overlap & there is nothing wrong & we shld just enjoy them & be thankful that we are not dying of hunger like millions who are. So, well said & I enjoyed your post :)

Joanne said...

What a great pasta dish! And there is no such thing as too many carrots. They are so flavorful and so good for you.

I, as well, love the overlap between Asian foods. Each culture has it's own nuances and distinct ingredients but it's a nice reminder that we all came from the same roots somewhere down the line.

Remember to send me the link and the picture you want me to use. Thanks for the submission!

Sophie Sportende Foodie said...

MMMMMM,...what a tasty dish!! Yummie!

ann low said...

This is really a simple dish which I like to cook at home.

Reeni said...

How delicious! I have cabbage that needs to be used up. This is perfect!

That Girl said...

I've had pancit before, but I didn't realize it translated into other Asian cusines.

Lele said...

I love those dishes where a bunch of different countries have a slight tweak on it. I'm Greek, and it's the same way in our part of the world- like baklava! We do it one way, the Turks do it another way, the Lebanese another, etc. etc. It's delicious either way! I'm sure the same is true of chao mi fen!

Christie @ Fig&Cherry said...

Delicious! I'm such a fan of rice noodles in every form.

lisaiscooking said...

This is a delicious mix! I love rice vermicelli by any name.

Juliana said...

Yes, you just reminded me that I have a pack of this rice vermicelli at home. Will try your version :-) and I as you mention it is a yummie dish!

Mini Baker said...

I love your blog! I'm so glad I found it! I'll be back often :)
-Mini Baker

Leslie said...

Yep..I call it delish!!!!
Thanks for your comment on my Halloween Cookies!

OohLookBel said...

I've eaten this dish many times but have never made it. Thanks for the recipe. And if you add curry powder to the noodles, you end up with Singapore noodles (not sure if they call it that in Singers, though!)

Noob Cook said...

I love mi fen! I love it with lots of shredded carrots too, they add crunch and colour. And I also like to have it with sriracha sauce.

averagebetty said...

YUM! This noodle dish is right up my alley... no matter what you call it!

Claudia said...

I love the overlap and the arguments and the Mongolian decision! I also love the recipe - it's easy, tasty and fresh. What is better than that?

Frugal Kiwi said...

I feel a little more Mongolian just reading about it. I make this dish as well, but never really had a name for it aside from stir fry with rice noodles.