Rice noodles are an easy and inexpensive base for a wide array of flavors. Mixed with fresh finds from a farmers market, they make a great portable lunch.
By Natalie Rose
Ok, here’s the dilemma. You recently moved back to your favorite (abet, incredibly expensive) city after a soul-searching year traveling abroad in a country that did wonders for your well being yet wreaked havoc on your wallet. You realize after only a few days of settling in you are spending way too much money eating out, especially lunches when you are working. You decide you need to get better at bringing food to work, yet you don’t want to spend precious hours in the kitchen that could be spent catching up with friends, going to the beach or taking in movies and museums. You are also trying to make up for all of those late night shukos, tortas and tacos filled with less-than-high quality, hormone-free, pastured animal products and giving up meat for all of July. Where do you turn?
To rice noodles.
Rice noodles are a staple of every good pantry. You know them best as the breadth that, mixed with mung beans, ground tofu, shrimp or chicken and a couple of good dashes of fish sauce, make up pad thai, a dish you can find on almost every street in New York. They are thin, fast cooking ribbons made from finely processed white or brown rice mixed with water and formed into noodles. Imported from Thailand, Vietnam and other Asian countries, these days you can find at least a few varieties in almost every supermarket and corner bodega. They are great served hot or at room temperature and pair well with a pantry and fridge full of flavors. Most brands are gluten free. Best of all, they soak up any flavors you add to them. Toss them with snap peas, shredded carrots and a peanut sauce, sprinkle with chopped nuts of the same origin and you have quick peanut noodles. Saute ground shrimp, ginger, scallions, jalapeños and soy sauce together and plate over a bed of noodles tossed with neutral-tasting oil and a tablespoon of fish sauce. The farmers market is bursting with all sorts of green things that lend their flavors and freshness to this dish. And it packs up easy for office lunch hour, which means less money spent on lunches and more money saved for school (going to the beach).
Originally Published: August 8, 2013