When we think of phat si ew, we probably conjure up a stir-fry made with broad rice noodles. But when Andy Ricker, chef-owner of Pok Pok restaurants and cookbook author, showed us how to make phat si ew with thin, delicate glass noodles (wun sen), we couldn’t get enough. The familiar flavors of the takeout favorite pair beautifully with the translucent threads. Here at The Washington Post, when we like something, we try to crack the code to make it easier for home cooks to master.
To simplify the multi-step phat si ew sauce, we omitted the simple syrup and instead dissolve the sugar in the soy sauces and add a splash of water. While you’ll have plenty of additional sauce left, keep in mind it will store for six months, so next time you’re hankering for this stir-fry, your sauce will be ready. Or you could use the sauce on other types of noodles and vegetables.
In the end, the preparation for the recipe took about 20 minutes, while active cooking took about five minutes. When making a stir-fry, it is imperative to have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go, but I also find it useful to line them up in order of use. For a dish with so many ingredients, this step makes a big difference.
When shopping to make this recipe, do your best to find Thai ingredients rather than their similar counterparts from other countries. Mung bean starch noodles, rather than the sweet potato variety, should be readily available at Asian markets. Thai soy sauces differ from their Chinese and Japanese cousins – the black soy sauce boasting a sweeter, molasses-like notes. If you’re unable to find Thai soy sauces, add a little brown sugar to a Chinese version. And, of course, the broad rice noodle, more commonly seen in phat si ew, will work beautifully here, but be sure to read the package instructions on how the noodles should to be prepared.
STIR-FRIED GLASS NOODLES WITH PORK AND CHINESE BROCCOLI (PHAT SI EW WUN SEN)
Time: 25 minutes
Makes: 2 to 3 servings
Storage: Leftover stir-fry can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Where to buy: Light (not to be confused with reduced-sodium) soy sauce, dark soy sauce, glass noodles, fish sauce and Chinese broccoli can be found at a well-stocked Asian market or, with the exception of Chinese broccoli, online.
Make ahead: This recipe makes more phat si ew sauce than you’ll need for the dish. The leftover sauce can be refrigerated for up to 6 months.
FOR THE SAUCE
1/2 cup Thai thin soy sauce (or regular soy sauce)
3 tablespoons Thai black soy sauce (or dark soy sauce)
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or more as needed
FOR THE STIR-FRY
5 ounces dried glass noodles (wun sen)
2 tablespoons canola oil or another neutral oil, divided
2 small cloves garlic, crushed in a mortar or finely grated
8 ounces boneless pork loin or lean shoulder, thinly sliced against the grain and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon fish sauce (preferably Thai)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 ounces young Chinese broccoli, stems trimmed by 2 inches and clusters separated, or broccolini cut into 2- to 3-inch bite-size florets
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1. Make the sauce: In a 1-cup glass jar with a lid, combine the soy sauces, water and sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. You’ll wind up with about 1 cup. Reserve 1/4 cup for the noodles and refrigerate the rest.
2. Make the stir-fry: In a medium bowl, combine the noodles with enough warm-to-hot water to cover by 1 inch. Let soak until very pliable, about 8 minutes. Drain well, then snip the noodles into 4- to 6-inch lengths and set aside.
3. While the noodles soak, set a wok (preferably flat-bottomed) over very high heat and heat until it begins to smoke lightly. Add 1 tablespoons of the oil and swirl the wok to coat the sides. Add the garlic and cook, shaking the wok, for just 5 to 10 seconds, so the garlic is fragrant but not colored.
4. Add the pork and return the wok to the heat; stir well. Add the fish sauce and sugar and stir-fry, constantly stirring, scooping and tossing the ingredients until the pork is just cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer the pork to a small bowl.
5. If necessary, wipe out the wok and return it to the very high heat. When it starts to smoke lightly add the remaining oil and swirl the wok to coat the sides. Crack in the eggs; they will spit and sizzle loudly, and the whites will bubble and puff. Cook, without moving, until the edges turn light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Using a fish spatula, quickly but gently flip the eggs over, break them up slightly and push them to the side.
6. Add the Chinese broccoli or broccolini, noodles, cooked pork and pepper. Cook, without stirring, for 10 seconds, then stir-fry, breaking up the egg a bit more as you go, until the noodles and broccoli leaves have slightly wilted, about 30 seconds. Add the 1/4 cup reserved phat si ew sauce and stir-fry until the sauce is fully absorbed, the noodles are cooked and the flavors meld, 1 to 2 minutes.
7. Divide the stir-fry between 2 plates and serve.
Nutrition (based on 3 servings) | Calories: 370; Total Fat: 18 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 190 mg; Sodium: 1500 mg; Carbohydrates: 30 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugars: 7 g; Protein: 21 g.
(Adapted from “Pok Pok Noodles: Recipes from Thailand and Beyond” by Andy Ricker with JJ Goode. Ten Speed Press, 2019.)