Mi Xao Don Recipe (Vietnamese Crispy Noodles)
Mì xào dòn is a Vietnamese noodle specialty. Egg noodles are deep-fried until crispy, then softened in a thick sauce. This time, I sautéed chicken, young bamboo shoots and a few vegetables. Of course, I set aside some without chicken using vegetable syock for the vegetarians in my house.
I've been cooking egg noodles using a variety of techniques lately. I recently served them tossed in peanut salad dressing, in duck broth soup and simply sautéed along with vegetables. This crispy version is definitely the most time-consuming, but once in a while our family enjoys this special meal.
Yields: 8 servings1 pound chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon papaya paste, optional
½ teaspoon salt
1 quart canola oil (or any neutral oil)
2 (14-ounce) packages fresh thin egg noodles
4 tablespoons tapioca starch
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, cut into thin wedges
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons black bean garlic sauce
1-½ tablespoons chili garlic sauce
2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth, or more as needed
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 cups sugar snap peas, pre-cooked and halved
1 (15-ounce) can sweet baby corn, halved lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into small pieces
1 cup broccoli florets, pre-cooked
8 ounces young bamboo shoots, sliced
1 (15-ounce) can straw mushrooms, halved lengthwise
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
For the crispy noodles:
On a large platter, untangle and separate the noodles, forming little nests. In a wok, heat the oil. When the oil is hot and bubbly, place about 2 or 3 nests at a time and fry the noodles until crispy and golden. Remove the noodles using a flat strainer and transfer to a platter lined with paper towels to absorb the oil. Repeat until all the noodles are deep-fried. Set aside.
For the chicken:
Pound the chicken breast using a meat tenderizer mallet. Cut into thin strips. Place the chicken in a bowl . Add red chili powder and papaya paste (if used). Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
Pat dry with paper towel. Spread the chicken on a platter. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with 2 teaspoons tapioca starch. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a wok. Place the pieces of chicken in the wok. Make sure that the pieces aren't overlapping so they'll become a nice golden color. Sauté them over high heat. Add 2 green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a serving plate. Set aside.
For the veggies:
Add a tablespoon of oil in the same wok. When the oil is hot, add half the amount of the onions. As the onions become golden, add the carrots. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes. When the color is translucent, season with salt. Add about 1-½ cups of water and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the remaining onion wedges and cook for another minute. Transfer to a plate. Set aside.
Repeat the same procedure for the bell pepper (add oil if necessary; cook for about 2 minutes).Transfer to a plate. Repeat the same procedure for the bamboo shoots, baby corn, straw mushrooms, sugar snap peas and broccoli. Don't overcook the vegetables as they will continue cooking in the sauce later. Set the plates aside.
In a bowl, dissolve the rest of the tapioca starch in 1 cup of chicken broth. Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili garlic and black bean sauces. Set aside.
In the same wok, add another tablespoon of oil. Add the black bean and chili garlic sauce, sugar and soy sauce. Stir-fry until fragrant. Add 1 can of chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Mix in the tapioca mixture one more time to prevent the starch from sticking to the bottom of the wok. Add the tapioca liquid to the boiling broth. Continuously stir the broth as it will thicken very quickly. Add the rest of the broth.
Add the vegetables and chicken. Check the texture of the sauce, it should be thick and syrupy. If you find the sauce to be too thick, add up 4 tablespoons of water (or more chicken broth). Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining sliced green onions.
Sprinkle black pepper. Drizzle with sesame oil.
Serve immediately (see tips). Eat with chopsticks.
The soy sauce brings saltiness to the dish and a nice amber brown color. My favorite soy sauce is the Da Bo De brand. It has a good flavor and is not too salty. You can find this particular sauce in many Asian markets.
You can find straw mushrooms in any Asian stores.
You can use store-bought black bean and chili garlic sauce like the ones from Lee Kum Kee. For a homemade version of the chili garlic sauce, you can check for the recipe of tướng ớt, literally spicy dipping sauce in Vietnamese; it's ultra easy.
Just as in my recipe for chow mein, I find the noodles in the fresh section of Asian stores. My favorite egg noodle brand is New Hong Kong Noodle Company (they carry all sorts of noodle products). Choose the thin variety.
One tip to get a perfect sauce is to "over" thicken the broth prior to adding the vegetables. When you add the vegetables, the veggies will release their own liquid and will balance the texture of the sauce.
The addition of the sesame oil at the end brings a nice fragrance to the noodles.
You could add also thin strips of flank steak sautéed with sliced onions or some shrimp (instead of chicken).
Little reminder on how to cook the broccoli and sugar snap peas: Blanch both vegetables for 3-4 minutes in boiling water then transfer into an ice bath. Drain thoroughly, then pat dry on a paper towel. Do not overcook, as they will continue to cook in the thick sauce later.
Most important tip (how to eat the crispy noodles): Pour the thick sauce over the crispy noodles and let the "eater" delicately mix and incorporate all the sauce with the noodles. Eat immediately.April 8, 2011.