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David Thompson: Charred rice noodles and chicken with thickened “gravy” (Raat nar gai)

You'll need

200 gm fresh wide rice noodles ½-1 tsp dark soy sauce (optional) 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil 2 garlic cloves Pinch of salt 100 gm chicken breast fillet, cut into about 10 slices 1 tbsp yellow bean sauce To season: ground white pepper 1½ cups chicken stock 1 tsp white sugar 100 gm young Chinese broccoli, cut into approximately 3cm lengths (about 1 cup) 1 tbsp tapioca flour, mixed to a slurry with 2 tbsp water 1 tsp light soy sauce, to taste 1 tsp fish sauce, to taste To serve: chillies steeped in vinegar (see note) To serve: extra fish sauce, white sugar and roasted chilli powder


  • 01
  • Spread and tease the noodles. If they have been steamed, rub them with the dark soy sauce. Heat the wok and spread the noodles over its surface, allowing them to char and crisp before lifting and turning. Try not to break up the noodles. Once they are charred, add a drop of oil if the wok seems too dry. The noodles should be dark and aromatic, almost burnt in parts. Divide between two bowls and keep warm.
  • 02
  • Crush the garlic to a somewhat coarse paste with the salt – either by pounding it using a pestle and mortar or finely chopping it with a knife. In a small pan – or the cleaned wok – heat the oil, add the garlic paste and fry until it is beginning to colour. Add the chicken and continue frying until the garlic is golden and the chicken is sealed. Add the yellow bean sauce and fry for a minute or so. Sprinkle in a pinch of pepper and fry for a moment before adding the stock. Bring to the boil and add the sugar and broccoli. Simmer until the broccoli is wilted and quite tender – it must not be too crispy – then pour in the tapioca slurry. Simmer, stirring constantly, as the sauce thickens and swells slightly: it should be really quite thick, almost translucent and pleasingly glutinous. Season with the light soy and fish sauces: it should taste salty, sweet and smoky.
  • 03
  • Pour the sauce over the noodles and sprinkle with white pepper. Serve with fish sauce, white sugar, roasted chilli powder and sliced chillies steeped in vinegar.
Note For chillies steeped in vinegar, long red, green or yellow chillies are sliced then steeped in white vinegar for at least 30 minutes. The longer this sits, the better and more mellow it becomes. This recipe is from Thai Street Food by David Thompson, published by Penguin Lantern ($100, hbk), and appeared in the November 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller. The specialty ingredients used in these recipes are available from Asian supermarkets and Asian greengrocers. David Thompson's recipes are reproduced here without Gourmet Traveller style changes.

"Flat, wide rice noodles are most commonly used for this dish. In Chinatown these noodles are made fresh every morning before being sent to the markets. Freshly made, they are wonderful. Old or dry ones are not quite as good. These - and even fresh ones that have been refrigerated or are a little dry - should be steamed for a moment until they are soft and tender then allowed to cool before use. The noodles need to be charred in a wok over a medium heat to give them the smoky taste that is a desired characteristic. A well-seasoned wok is essential for this. Some cooks will rub a little soy sauce onto the noodles beforehand to accentuate the taste. If the noodles are very fresh, this is not really necessary, but if they have been steamed to rejuvenate them, it is wise to do so as the already softened noodles can break up if fried too much. Do not add any oil at this stage but only once they begin to colour, otherwise the noodles will knot and gnarl.

The sauce is thickened with tapioca flour, which gives it a decidedly thick and toothsome texture. It should not be too highly seasoned, as the seasoning should be finished by each person to their taste."

At A Glance

  • Serves 2 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 2 people

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