Back in the 1995, I took my first cooking class at Draeger’s. I slinked out of work at 5:30, took 101 south to Menlo Park, and entered fantasyland. The stress of work vanished as I rode the elevator up to the second floor where I was greeted by a hostess, “Welcome! Here is your clipboard with recipes. Would you like white or red wine?” After that class, I knew I must find a way to make it a regular thing, but the $50 class fee was steep for a twenty-something. So I became a cooking school assistant and earned a free class sit-in for each class I worked.
Bill McCarthy was a tall, large-framed guy, former CIA officer with serious expertise cooking Southeast Asian street food. I learned about kaffir lime leaves for tom kha gai and how they were illegal to import but grown in Sonoma, how Chaokoh coconut milk was the best, and that fish sauce was a good thing. This recipe is adapted from one of Bill’s, and his adapted from Kasma Loha-unchit, a cooking teacher and author of Thai cookbook, It Rains Fishes (which won an IACP Julia Child Cookbook Award).
This dish is served over “glass noodles” (aka “cellophane noodles”), a catch-all phrase for all sorts of dried Asian noodles that become translucent after cooking. If you live near an Asian grocery, you will probably find different formats available–everything from threads (very thin noodles) to sheets (large pieces you can custom cut). Bozeman is currently slim on Asian grocery options, but I was happy to find bean threads (Saifun, below) as well as sweet potato starch noodles (Korean package, below). (No luck with the black vinegar, but thank you Amazon!)
Shrimp with Thai Chiles & Ginger
- 6 oz. package mung bean thread or other "glass noodle"
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce (Kikkoman or Lee Kum Kee brand) or tamari
- 1 lb medium white shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tbsp avocado oil (or other high-heat cooking oil like olive, coconut, or peanut) divided
- 1/2 cup Japanese soy sauce or tamari
- 1/4 cup Chinkiang vinegar (Chinese "black vinegar")
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp avocado oil (or other high-heat cooking oil like olive oil, coconut, or peanut oil)
- 4 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 4 thai chiles, aka "bird's eye chiles" (manage the heat by leaving whole, if you like hot, slice thinly and add, seeds and all; I did 2 sliced, 2 whole and it was plenty hot for me!)
- 8 scallions ("green onions"), sliced
- 1 inch-thick bundle of cilantro stems, leaves roughly chopped
- optional: bean sprouts
- garnish: cilantro leaves
Prepare the mung bean threads per package instructions. I usually bring a pot of water to boil, add the dried noodles, remove from heat and let stand 30 seconds. Taste and the noodle should be tender all the way through. If not, cook an additional 30 seconds. Drain and rinse in cold water. Put in bowl and toss with sesame oil and soy sauce. Arrange on serving platter.
Mix sauce ingredients in glass measuring cup and set aside.
Heat oil in wok or skillet. Add 1 tablespoon avocado oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook until just cooked and pink. Remove from wok and arrange on top of noodles on serving platter.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in wok or skillet, and add the garlic, ginger, and chiles. Stir-fry 30 seconds. Add the green onions, cilantro, and optional bean sprouts and stir- fry for a minute longer.
Add the sauce and bring to boil. Pour over noodles and shrimp. Sprinkle with additional cilantro leaves and serve.