I've been trying to work my way through The Complete Asian Cookbook, wanting to make sure to try at least one recipe from every country listed in the book - and I've done well so far. Just recently, after a plan to go to a Vietnamese restaurant with some friends on a Sunday evening failed due to everything being closed, I cracked open the cookbook again and looked through that section for something to try.

The goal was to find something simple, as I didn't want to hunt down any ingredients such as dried lily flowers (for muc don thit - squid stuffed with pork), yet something that looked nice and tasty. One recipe called out to me, "make me! make me!". It was simple, and looked yummy. That recipe was ga xao bun tau - or chicken with cellophane noodles. So I gave it a try.

It turned out to be easy to make, as expected, and quite delicious - one I plan on making again, though I will find more adventurous recipes from the cookbook to make, to try and get a better feel for the type of cuisine. It is very mild, and something you can serve to people without fear that it'll be too much/too unusual for them.

The little side salad of onion and tomato I was a bit leery of at first, since I've always considered those as things that go inside a salad, but a salad with other things, and not by itself. I would recommend making it with this dish, however, as the fresh and slightly vinegary taste complements the dish very well - alternating between bites of the two helps emphasize each's seperate taste.

Ga Xao Bun Tau

Chicken with Cellophane Noodles

Ingredients:

1 lb chicken meat (such as chicken breasts)
4 oz cellophane noodles
2 green onions (spring onions)
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup water

2 ripe tomatoes
2 white onions
sugar, salt, vinegar, pepper

Soak the cellophane noodles in hot water for about 10 minutes, and cut up into bite-sized pieces. Slice the green onions thinly. Cut the chicken into bite-sized bits. Slice/dice/chop the tomatoes and onions into the preferred size for a salad. Add sugar, salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste.

Take a wok or skillet and heat. Add oil, swirling around to coat the inside, then add the chicken and green onions. Stir-fry for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Then add the water, soy sauce, fish sauce, and pepper. Stir well, and heat until boiling. Reduce the heat, and simmer for three minutes. Toss in the noodles, and bring it back to a boil, stirring so the noodles don't stick. Cook for another three minutes.

Serve with the salad alongside.


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