I recently had the opportunity to cook a recipe from the revised edition of “Extending the Table: Recipes and stories from Afghanistan to Zambia in the spirit of More-with-Less.”
I love the “More-with-Less” cookbook and hoped this book would have similar easy-to-follow, economical ideas. The focus of “Extending the Table” is on ethic food while “More-with-Less” explored ways to cook using inexpensive ingredients.
My husband and I leafed through the book and choose “Rice Noodles with Vegetables,” a Philippine dish recommended for parties or “a lovely main dish for family or guests,” according to the book.
The recipe was contributed by Carolyn Schrock-Shenk who lives in Goshen and works at Goshen College.
Here’s what you need to know before you make this dish:
1. It’s easy to adapt to your family’s tastes.
I left out cabbage and the shrimp and substituted brown rice noodles for regular rice noodles and everything still tasted great.
I’ve never used fish sauce before and was tempted to avoid it but I’m glad I didn’t. The fish sauce adds a little something without making the whole thing taste like fish.
I put in three teaspoons of fish sauce but I would use less if I made this again.
2. This is not a soup.
The photo in the cookbook makes this dish look a little like chicken noodle soup. When I made it, it wasn’t as soupy as I expected even though I added extra water with the noodles.
If you want a soup, be prepared to add quite a bit more water or broth than what the recipe calls for.
3. Make sure you have time to do the prep work.
Nearly every ingredient in this dish is chopped, finely chopped or cut in small pieces. That’s a lot of chopping!
This isn’t something I would make on a weeknight. But if you’re like me and kind of like to zone out in the kitchen on the weekends, this dish is a good way to do that.
Alternatively, you could pre-chop everything and just put the dish together at a later time.
This recipe was delicious. The thin noodles remind me of Ramen, it’s salty and the fresh carrots and beans taste really good.
Because I thought this was a soup, I panicked toward the end of cooking time because I didn’t have bread.
I cannot do soup without bread.
So I made some homemade pita using a recipe from another book I’ve been reading, “The Thrifty Cookbook: 476 ways to eat well with leftovers.”
That actually worked out really well and I ended up with the rice noodle dish, some funky-shaped pita and the sides of hard-boiled egg, green onion and lemon that was recommended.
I would make this again but I’d look for ways to make it less work.
Here’s the recipe as found in “Extending the Table:”
Rice Noodles with Vegetables
Saute in large saucepan:
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
Add and simmer 10 minutes:
- 1 cup cooked chicken, cut in small pieces
- 2-3 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 cup string beans, finely diced
- 1 cup cabbage, coarsely shredded
- 1/2-1 cup small shrimp, shelled, deveined and cut in half (optional)
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.
- 8 ounces rice noodles
- 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Stir and cook until noodles are tender, 5-8 minutes. Add several tablespoons broth or water if mixture is too dry.
Serve on large platter, garnished with:
- 2 eggs, hard-cooked and chopped
- 2 green onions, diced
- lemon slices, arranged around sides
Each person squeezes lemon over serving as desired. Pass dish of seasoned fish sauce for extra flavoring.