After being so patient and reading my last two posts that contained no recipes, this time you finally get one. It was so difficult to decide which one was going to be the first in this series. I know that the “Boat Noodles” are quite popular among foreigners, and both noodles with barbecued pork and chicken noodles are also well known.
But I’m going to begin the series with pork noodles. It’s the most popular among the Thais, for sure. You can easily find this type of noodles in every province, even in the Islamic-dominated provinces. No, it won’t be eaten by the Islamists there, but it would be eaten by the Buddhists. So I think this is the most appropriate for the first post.
Pork noodles usually are the noodles with multiple styles of the protein. You would get pork either as pork balls, cooked ground pork, sliced pork boiled or sometimes barbecued, every kind of pork product you can imagine. Then you might get fish balls (really…this is NOT what you think it is, gender has nothing to do with it), fried fish cakes, and some internal pig organs such as intestine and liver (they are not the same as foie gras) together with the noodles and vegetables.
I order mine without the internal organs of the pig, though. I am not a big fan of them. I’m just telling you what to expect. All of these are optional and I opt-out the same way as I opt-out for the chili flakes.
Not only are “Guay Tiew Moo” (you pronounce the last word, “moo” with a high note like you are asking a question) the most popular in Thailand, but they also remind me of my happy family times in Thailand, too.
You know that most Asians usually have big extended families. We do value our family members even when they’re not so great (like me) and we get together often, like once a month at least. When I was growing up, we saw each other once a week, on the weekends. Yes, we had weekly family reunions—so what?!
Any time Thais get together, we eat. Most Asians would do the same. Guay Tiew often showed up as a feast for the gathering because it’s perfect for that. It sure to please everybody. All the accompaniments would be lined up, a boiling water pot on the stove along with another pot for the broth.
Guay Tiew can be served as soon as the water reaches the boiling point. Whoever was ready to eat could just blanch some vegetables, cook their noodles in the boiling water, and add the broth if they so chose. They would then come to the table and compose the bowl mix personalized with all the accompaniments, and season it however they liked: sour, salty, spicy or bland, your call.
Can you see how this can be an all-day eating event? We ate, then we played, and the adults would be talking while we played. Then we would get hungry again, we would make some more Guay Tiew, then go play again. We would keep doing this until the time when we had to go home. We might end up eating about 3-8 bowls of noodles easily during the course of the day. It’s so easy to digest that it goes away easily and you need a refill.
Do you see why I associate noodles with happiness?
Here in the US, I don’t have a large number family members around me, but I still do have a bunch of Thai friends who really appreciate Guay Tiew. So we get together at someone’s house and eat them together. To make them at home is quite elaborate for just yourself. In that case, I just make a simple serving where I throw everything in the same pot, just like you would do to make “extravaganza ramen” from instant ramen noodles.
I normally don’t do the full spread of ingredients unless I have more than four people coming to eat with me. So the first ingredient is to recruit enough people; if you don’t have enough kids of your own, then borrow your neighbor’s kids as props. Once you’ve got your audience, then let’s prep your noodles.
Ingredients for the broth (about 1 gallon)
Pork bones about 1 lb. preferably the leg bones (See Note#1)
Daikon root 1 root (See Note#2)
Dried shrimp or dried squid 2 tablespoons (See Note#3)
Cilantro root 1 root
Fresh garlic, whole clove 2 tablespoons
White pepper 2 tablespoons
Salt 1 tablespoon
Tung Chai 2 tablespoon
Water 1.5 gallon
(Optional) Crystal sugar just in case all else fails to give a sweet taste to the broth; you can use it but make sure you don’t tell anyone. If anyone suspects, deny it firmly. And DO NOT use granulated sugar.
1) If you can’t get leg bones, use pork ribs or chicken backs (I know they can be expensive or hard to find). If you opt for some other kind of pre-made concentrated broth, make sure that there is no MSG in it. BTW, Knorr is unacceptable. You will be banned from my HHG club for at least one thousand and one days!
2) This is the source of sweetness in the broth. You can substitute it with sweet onion, 2 large bulbs, or a few medium sized ones should be plenty. I used to use half a head of cabbage to get the sweet taste, too.
3) This is for the umami taste. We don’t need MSG for that. You can use dried scallops or dried oysters but cut the amount in half; most any dried shellfish is good. Don’t use dried fish.
Method for the broth:
1) Put cold water in the pot and put in everything except the white pepper, then set it over medium heat and go do something else.
2) If there is foam once it starts to boil, scoop it out.
Ingredients for the Noodles: (for 6)
Noodles of your choice as shown in the Episode I (link) or multiple choices
Ground pork 1-1/2 lb.
Thai Trio (cilantro root, garlic and white pepper minced or mushed together) 1 tablespoon
Pork loin 1/2 lb.
Fish balls 1 package or at least 12 balls (Did I tell you that they’re NOT what you think?)
Fried fish cakes 1 package
(Optional) Hard boiled eggs with soft yolk (See Note#4)
Bean sprouts 3-4 cups (or just the whole bag)
Green beans or long beans cut diagonally as shown in Episode II 2 cups
(Optional) Crispy fried wontons (See Note#5)
Fried garlic in oil
Cilantro and green onion, cut as shown in the episode II
Limes cut in wedges (shown in this post how to cut the limes)
Cracked roasted peanuts (I use a food processor or coffee grinder to crush them, but you can use a mortar)
Dried red chili flakes
Red jalapeño in vinegar
4) Put eggs in a pan of room temperature water, enough to cover about one inch over the eggs. It would be best if the eggs are at room temperature as well, but if not let them sit in the water for 10 minutes, pour that water out (the temperature of that water is now colder than room temperature), and add the same amount of water back in the pot. Set it over the stove at high heat, stir the eggs gently (this is optional but stirring them before the water reaches a boil will make the yolks stay in the center). Once the water comes to a full boil (212ºF, 100ºC), turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in water for full 5-6 minutes. Five minutes would you would get a hard white and half semi-soft with runny center. Six minutes, semi-soft center all the way through.
5) Take about 3 tablespoons of ground pork that is already seasoned.
Wrap the wonton skin around 1/2 teaspoon of ground pork mixed. Do not use a lot of ground pork because it won’t cook as fast as the skin and you will get the raw filling.
and fold the skins as shown. You might have to press around the pork a little to close tightly, or use water to dab the wonton skin so that where it’s touching it will be sealed closed.
Fry them in medium hot oil about 350ºF.
The skin should fluff right away but the wonton should stay in oil for another minute for the pork to be cooked.
Method for the noodles:
1) Take the whole piece of pork loin and put it in boiling broth, wait until it’s cooked through, then take it out and slice it. I didn’t use a pork loin this time. I couldn’t get pork bones so I used pork ribs and instead of using pork loin, I used pork ribs.
2) Season the ground pork with fish sauce, Thai trio (garlic, cilantro root and white pepper mushed together until it become paste), and, if you like, a teaspoon of sugar and another teaspoon of white pepper also adds a nice touch. Add a tablespoon of water into each pound of ground pork to help make it tender.
3) Use two spoons to make a ball of ground pork and drop it in the boiling broth.
Do one at a time. Wait until they float up on the surface then scoop them out.
You can either put them in a bowl waiting to be added to the noodles or just put them right in the noodle bowl.
4) If you don’t like ground pork in a ball shape, you can just cook it. We call this “Ba-Chor” บะช่อ style. This is how you do it. Put ground pork in a bowl
and add boiling broth, about the same amount as the ground pork,
stir so the hot broth cooks the pork.
The first time you won’t be able to cook the pork through, so pour the broth back in the pot, add more boiling broth to the pork again,
stir and drain it out, and keep doing it
until you cooked the pork through.
5) Slice the fried fish cakes about 1/4” thick.
6) Alright, you’ve got all your pork cooked, so now you are ready to cook your noodles. Make sure the water is boiling, add the noodle of your choice in a basket or sieve. You can buy them from the Asian market as well.
Dip the basket in the boiling water, and use chopsticks to separate the noodles so they will cook evenly.
7) Once the noodles cook, take them out of the boiling water, shake the sieve to get the water out of the noodles, and add the noodles to the bowl.
8) ***Important*** Toss the garlic oil with the noodles right away so the noodles won’t stick together.
9) Now blanch the vegetables
and add them to the bowl.
10) Cook the fish balls and the fish cakes the same way but in the broth.
10) Then start adding all of the cooked pork to the noodles,
add the Tung Chai, cilantro and green onion.
Then you start seasoning it with fish sauce, sugar, chili, vinegar or lime. If you want it salad style, you are done here. You can add the fried wontons and crushed peanuts, toss them together and you can count this as the first serving. Normally we would do one salad style, then another one with soup (Hang cham, Naam cham would be the Thai word for that).
If you want it soup style, you better add the broth to your bowl
and season the broth.
12) Garnish with crispy fried wontons, then do not wait—eat!
I mentioned before that you can have it salad style, guay tiew hang,
or soup style, guay tiew nam.
If you want salad style you are ready just toss everything together after you season it. Taste to see if you get your preferred taste.