Vietnam, fresh noodles bliss

If there is a country that knows how to make the most of fresh rice noodles undeniably that would be Vietnam. I never thought that so many alternatives were possible. In soups or dry, hot or cold, fried or steamed… the variations we have discovered in Vietnam are just endless. I would go as far as saying that rice noodles are to Vietnamese what pasta is to Italy.

Before arriving to Vietnam we were completely blind to the wonders of the Vietnamese cuisine but from now on we will be big advocates of these incredible flavours. Not just because it’s super healthy or because fresh ingredients are the core to any recipe… but mainly because it is so delicious!

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Sticky rice with….

Rice is the staple food for the Laotians, specially steamed sticky rice. Sticky rice is traditionally served on cute bamboo baskets and it is eaten with anything: with meat, with fish and even with soups. In Lao, sticky rice is eaten with the hands, take a small amount of rice, press it to make a compact ball and then dip it into the main dish or eat it with the barbecued chicken or pork.

Sticky rice basket - One like this should is on the way home.

The cooking of the rice is simple, as we learnt in the cooking course in Luang Prabang. First the grains are washed thoroughly and soaked in water for several hours. Then the water is drained off and the rice is put in a steamer. After steaming it for around 20 to 30 minutes, the rice is moved to another container and moved around so it releases the steam until it has cooled down. The rice is ready to be served.

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Noodles: The making of

Over the past few weeks we have been indulging our stomachs with tasty fresh rice noodle dishes. We have eaten them thin or thick in many restaurants and we have seen them in almost every market but we still didn’t know how they were made. Until in Muang Sing we had the opportunity to see how a woman was making them at her home. We found it very interesting so we we wanted to share it!

First the rice is grounded. Here it is a manual process but I guess at home a blender can be used.

Next, the rice powder is mixed with water to make a batter.

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A bit of Thailand served on a plate

Thai cuisine is well known all over the world. These days, with Thai restaurants everywhere, most of us have probably tried or heard of Pad Thai and Green Thai Curry even before visiting this tasty country.

Over the years, Thai food has been influenced by neighbor countries such as India, China, Lao… And while fried rice, beef in oyster sauce… can be found in most of the menus, Thailand still preserves its own unique identity with signature dishes like Pad See Ew or Tom Yum soup.

Every town big or small has at least one fresh food market where locals do the day to day shopping. Meet, fish, vegetables, fruit, rice, noodles, tea, spices, clothes, cooking utensils, fried insects… you name it and you find it! We both love to wonder around the crowded Thai food markets, discovering new types of fruits, being amazed by the variety of rice and noodles, being surprised with new smells (not all of them pleasant I have to say!) and the best of all looking for new flavours to taste.

Fish and rice are the staple of the Thai diet. Fish sauce, oyster sauce and shrimp paste are added to the wok (almost everything is cooked in the wok!) to prepare most of the dishes (even of meat dishes). And rice, both in grain or noodle form, is part of every meal. In addition to fish and rice, fresh herbs and spices are core to the Thai flavours and aromas, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, coriander, lemongrass, ginger… are just some of them.

I’m going to let the pictures do all the talking this time!

Pad Thai - Thai style stir fried noodles with eggs, fish and oyster sauce, shrimps, tofu... served with green onions, lime and peanuts. A classic!!

Pad See Ew – Stir fried fresh thick noodles with soy sauce, sugar, broccoli, egg and meat. While simple, one of our top dishes worldwide!

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