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Lao Fried Noodles with Pork and Scallions (Khua Mee)
According to James Syhabout, Thai-Lao award-winning chef and author of “Hawker Fare,” the rice noodle dish called khua mee is to Laos what pad Thai is to Thailand. There are similarities between the two stir-fries, but khua mee gets a distinctive flavor and aroma from a decent measure of sugar that is cooked until it caramelizes to an amber hue and takes on smoky, bittersweet notes. We use a trio of umami-rich sauces—fish, soy and oyster—to bring intensity and complexity to mild-tasting rice noodles. Look for flat rice sticks that are about ¼ inch wide, the same type used for pad Thai or Vietnamese pho. Crisp, savory-sweet fried shallots are a fantastic garnish for khua mee; we’ve included a recipe below that also yields shallot-infused oil for use in place of the neutral oil when making the stir-fry. However, if you’re not up for frying shallots, not to worry—the noodles are delicious even without. Don’t be intimidated by the recipe’s lengthy ingredient list. The knifework and prep are minimal, and the cooking takes only minutes—and the results are delicious.
ounces dried rice stick noodles (see headnote)
Boiling water, to soak the noodles