It's hard for me to choose a favorite noodle, but in terms of cooking convenience, vermicelli rice noodles are hard to beat. You can throw them in a noodle soup, stir-fry them, or dip them in a hot pot. (And I will sooner give up lamb than rice noodles when I hot pot, which is saying ALOT.) Rice vermicelli will cook in no time, perfect if you're in a hurry or just plain lazy.
Called mifen (米粉) in Mandarin and fensi (same characters) in Cantonese, these super-thin rice noodles are almost always sold dry. If you're making other meat and vegetable dishes, you can whip up a very basic stir-fried vermicelli with just onions, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Or if it's a one-dish meal you're after, add some shrimp, chicken, beef, or pork.
To prep rice vermicelli for cooking, just soak them in cold water for 15 to 25 minutes, or in warmer water for under 10 minutes if you're in a hurry. (Careful not to oversoak.) Once you stir-fry your meats and vegetables, add the sauce and noodles and stir well for a few minutes until they dry up. (The crispy parts that stick to your pan are a bonus.)
Below is a very basic but flavorful recipe for stir-fried vermicelli. Feel free to elaborate!
Oh, I also love dipping stir-fried vermicelli in congee. Odd, yes, but don't knock it 'til you've tried it.
Stir-Fried Vermicelli with Garlic and Scallions
- 8 ounces dried rice vermicelli noodles
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small piece ginger, minced
- 1 stalk scallions, cut to 1-inch lengths
- Soak the vermicelli in cold water for 15 to 25 minutes, until they are softened. (If you're in a hurry, soak it in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes; the warmer the water, the faster it'll take.) Careful not to soak for too long, or they will be too soggy to stir-fry. With a colander, drain out the excess water.
- In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, rice wine, water, sugar, and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the onions, garlic, and ginger until fragrant and the onions begin to caramelize, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add half the sauce mixture. Add the vermicelli, then pour in the rest of the sauce. With tongs or a spatula, toss the noodles well until the vegetables and seasonings are mixed through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot.