Selecting ingredients--cellophane noodles (ck)

Yield: 1 Servings

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Cellophane noodles, sometimes called "bean thread" or "Chinese vermicelli," are very long, thin, brittle, and white when dry, which is the way they are sold. They are available in Asian groceries and some speciality shops in packages of two, four, and eight ounces.

They will keep on the pantry shelf as long as a year. Check the label: it should list mung beans or bean starch as an ingredient, not just wheat flour or wheat starch. There is another kind of dried noodle, also called "Chinese vermicelli," that looks like cellophane noodles but is made from wheat. Do not confuse the two--the wheat vermicelli is more like spaghetti and doesn't have the unusual texture of cellophane noodles.

Cellophane noodles are named for the way they look when soaked in water--that is, transparent. Because of their soft consistency, they partner well with meat, and are known not for any flavor of their own but their ability to absorb the flavor of the cooking liquid both in soups and in noddle-and-meat dishes. Cellophane noodles are almost always soaked in warm water or hot water and then cut before being used in main dishes or soups.

Cellophane noodles have one other very interesting property. When cut or broken into pieces and then dropped int deep hot oil or shortening, they immediately puff up and become crisp and white. They are used this way in some appetizers and also as a garnish for meat and vegetable dishes. Rice noodles can be used in this manner also, but rice noodles are a little thicker and do have some flavor of their own. A word of caution: when cellophane noodles are to be fried in deepfat, don't soak them first. They will just disappear.

From: Chinese Kosher Cooking Betty S. Goldberg Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., 1989

Entered by: Lawrence Kellie

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