What's for Dinner: Stir-Fried Coconut Noodles

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Stir-Fried Coconut Noodles

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I love cooking with rice noodles because they're so darn easy: just soak 'em in hot water, and they're ready to go. Here, the transparent noodles are the star attraction in a slightly sweet simple stir-fry that takes less than 20 minutes to toss together -- perfect for those nights when you're running from one activity to another.

For a vegetarian dish, simply omit the meat and double the amount of veggies. Be sure not to oversoak the noodles or you'll end up with a soupy mess; they should be softened but still firm and a little undercooked in the middle (al dente).

  • 1 pound fettucine-style rice noodles
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed, corn or other light oil, divided
  • 1 pound minced or ground boneless pork or chicken
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1 eggplant (about 1/2 pound), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 12- to 14-ounce can (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups) unsweetened coconut milk
  • Nam pla (fish sauce), soy sauce or salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Minced cilantro

Soak noodles in very hot water to cover until you're ready to add them to the stir-fry.

Meanwhile, pour 1 tablespoon oil into a large skillet or wok, turn the heat to high, and heat for 1 minute. Add meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it browns and loses its raw look, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add another 1 tablespoon oil to skillet, followed by the bell pepper and eggplant. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until pepper and eggplant are browned and tender, about 10 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and combine with the meat.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, followed immediately by the garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds. Add coconut milk. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring and scraping with a wooden spoon, for about 1 minute. Drain noodles and add along with meat and vegetables. Cook until noodles absorb most of the coconut milk, about 3 minutes.

Season liberally with nam pla, soy sauce or salt to taste, then add plenty of black pepper. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

-- "Mark Bittman: The Mini Minimalist: Simple Recipes for Satisfying Meals" (Clarkson Potter, Oct. 16, 2012, $19.95)

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