Saturday, December 20, 2008
HOMEMADE FLAT RICE NOODLES
I went in search of Kuay Teow (flat rice noodles) today at the wet market; yesterday, at the supermarket, and I just couldn't find any that said 'No Boric Acid' and 'No Preservatives". I used to get a brand that didn't use boric acid before but they are no where to be seen now. But even if they are still being manufactured the kuay teow that they produced wasn't exactly fantastic. I had bought it only because those were the only ones that did not use the dreaded boric acid.
Just in case you didn't know boric acid gives the noodles its bounciness plus a host of ailments if you ingest it. And since the enforcement of rules and regulations not to mention the law is somewhat questionable for the time being (I remain naively hopeful) I would rather avoid foods that are a threat to my family's health and well being.
I nag about this to the children all the time so that they avoid such foods when they eat out so much so that I'm beginning to see more whites in their eyeballs every time I talk to them. They'll thank me for this one day!
So I did a little digging around and found a recipe for flat rice noodles in a Taiwanese recipe book. I tried it and it was a complete disaster. Heh.. did you think I was going to say it was perfect? So I made further searches and I came across this recipe from a blog called neckredrecipes.blogspot.com and Sinner from this blog shared this really fantastic recipe for kuay teow. It's easy to make and tastes really good. Anytime better than the bought ones. So I have been eating and serving fresh homemade kuay teow to my family since and with a very clear conscience since it does not contain anything harmful.
Had I known that it was so easy I would never have bought kuay teow not even the 'safe' ones because even those look slathered with magarine and had a funny taste to it. Perhaps they put too much lye water in it. Lye water is basically alkaline water and is considered a poison. When ingested it can cause corrosive burns especially in the throat, oesophagus and the stomach lining.
In case you didn't know lye water is used commonly in yellow noodles, dried noodles, dried cuttle fish and also in pulled Chinese noodles and many other foods to give them the elastic and chewy texture. That's why I seldom or almost have never eaten yellow noodles or even kuay teow (except for the so called 'safe' ones) for the past several years since I had learnt this.
Lye water or alkaline water can be found easily in grocery shops. They are sold in clear glass bottles.
This recipe for kuay teow uses just rice flour, cornflour and wheat starch flour. All these can be found in your bakery supply store readily. Wheat starch flour is not the normal wheat flour but according to Sinner from Neckredrecipes.blogspot.com it is a non-gluten flour where the gluten has been removed leaving behind the starch, hence the name wheat starch. Please click here for a clearer explanation on noodles containing gluten and noodles which are non-glutinous which in turn explains the difference between wheat flour and wheat starch. According to Sinner wheat starch is called Tung Meen Fun in Chinese.
And I'm telling you that this is a really great recipe. Although it is a little time consuming it is definitely worth the effort. I've been told to never say never but I'll say now that I'll never buy kuay teow again.
One recipe makes about 500 gm of kuay teow and that is enough to serve 2 to 3 people.
150 gm rice flour
1 1/2 tbsp wheat starch flour
2 tbsp cornflour
400 ml cold water
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 or 3 shallow round cake pans (I used non-stick) that fits into your steamer. Grease them well with cooking oil using a pastry brush.
a plastic spatula for lifting off cooked sheets.
Mix all ingredients together and let rest for one hour
Get a steamer ready and bring the water to a rolling boil.
There are two ways of making these noodle sheets.
Method 1 :
Pour enough of the flour mixture into the oiled pan to form a thin layer (I like my layers slightly thick) and then steam for about 5 minutes on high until the sheet bubbles up in the pan. Remove the pan from the steamer and put in the next pan with another thin layer of mixture. While waiting for the second pan of noodle sheet to cook in the steamer the first sheet would have cooled down already. When it has cooled down enough for you to handle loosen the edges with a spatula, lift up an edge, roll it up, take it out of the pan onto a board and slice as wide or as narrow as you want. I love slicing it wide. Carry on doing this using the three pans consecutively until the batter has been used up. You might need to re-grease the pans once in a while.
Method 2 :
Alternatively, as a second method, I have also tried stacking up the layers in one pan, one layer at a time, adding on another layer of batter after the previous layer is cooked through. If you choose to do it by this method you should brush the top of the previous cooked sheet with oil before pouring on the next ladle of batter over it and the same thing goes for the following layers. (Always brush the previous layer with oil before adding the next ladle of batter). This method however requires a longer steaming time after the final layer to ensure that the last few layers are really cooked through. What you will end up with is a stack of noodle sheets in one pan looking very much like a solid white cake. I suppose it might be possible to invert the whole stack onto a plate or board when it has cooled and then proceed to seperate the layers by rolling or folding the topmost layer off first, lift it off onto a board and slice.
I have not been completely successful with the second method and at the moment I have only been able to stack at most three layers in one pan. I also find that it takes a longer time to do it this way.
So for the time being I prefer to cook the sheets one layer at a time using all three pans. The picture below however shows a three layered stack that I managed to do (by the second method) ready to be peeled, rolled and sliced.
Redneck recipes has a great video showing how to make it here. And a great site. Thanks Sinner!