Basic School Lesson 2: Noodles, Rice and Grains


Cornflour is among the most commonly used in Thai cooking. As part of a marinade, corn flour helps to coat food properly and to give dishes a velvety texture. It also protects food during deep-frying by helping to seal in the juices, producing a crisper coating than does wheat flour. It can also be used as a binder for minced stuffings. Corn flour is blended with cold water until it forms a smooth paste and is then added at the last moment to sauces. The mixture will look milky at first, but when the dish is properly prepared, the corn flour turns clear and shiny as it thickens the sauce. To prepare, mix two parts liquid to one part corn flour before adding to a sauce.

Glutinous Rice Flour is also known as sweet rice flour or sweet rice powder, this flour is made from short-grain rice that becomes moist, firm and sticky when cooked, a result of its higher proportion of waxy starch molecules. Because of its chewy texture, glutinous rice flour is a favorite base for dumplings, buns and pastries. Sweets made with glutinous rice flour are popular and widely available throughout Southeast Asia. Useful Hints, regular rice flour cannot be substituted in recipes that call for glutinous or sweet rice flour.

RICE FLOUR [Pang Kow Jao]
Rice flour, sometimes called rice powder, is made from finely milled white raw rice and is used to make fresh rice noodles, pastries and sweets. Rice flour is a staple food item throughout Southeast Asia.

POTATO STARCH [Pang Mun Fa Rang]
Usually used in the making of a batter or dusting food before frying, this starch is less commonly used as a binder. It is more glutinous in texture than corn flour [US cornstarch]. Potato Starch makes for a very crispy batter and holds better than corn flour for deep-frying.

WHEAT STARCH [Pang Sa-ree]
Wheat Starch is the fine, flour-like white powder left after the protein is removed from wheat flour. Although it is sometimes used to thicken sauces, it is more commonly made into a wrapping for dim sum dumpling in China. When steamed, this ingredient lends a soft, translucent, opaque sheen to the delicate pastry wrapping.

Bean Thread Noodles or Mung Bean Vermicelli are not made from a grain flour but from ground mung beans. Once they are soaked they become soft and slippery, springy and translucent. Variously called "silver bean thread noodle" or "Woon Sen", they’re flavorless and take on the taste of their accompanying sauce or broth. They should be soaked in warm water for about 7 minutes before use.

Rice noodles or rice sticks are very popular in Thailand. These noodle come in various shapes and widths , and are widely known as "sen lek", "sen chan or chantaboon", "sen mee"noodles. Sen lek and sen chan are thin, flat (small to medium size) noodles often called "rice sticks". Sen mee or rice vermicelli is very thin and brittle. Sen mee or rice vermicelli should be softened before cooking, or else deep-fried right from the package in which, they will puff up and become delicately and crisp. The crispy rice vermicelli is used in the appetizer "Mee Krob". Useful hints: Dried rice noodles are very easy to use. Just soak them in warm water for 15 minutes, until they are soft. Drain them in a colander or sieve, and they are ready to use, for example, in soups or stir-fries. Dried rice noodle is a perfect ingredient for PAD THAI.


Fresh Rice Noodles or Fat Noodles are white, soft and thick noodles made of rice flour. Mostly, Fat noodles are sold in plastic wet packs, either presliced or in folded sheets that you can cut into wide strips prior to unfolding.

Khanom Chine is a very authentic Thai style noodle. They're made from rice flour and served with a curry sauce, such as "Nam Ya", "Nam Prik" or even green curry, condiments and thinly sliced fresh vegetables. In Thailand, they are made and sold fresh daily. We substitute Japanese Somen noodles or angel hair pasta in America.

ba_mee.gif (4715 bytes)Egg Noodles made from wheat flour and egg, a bit like Italian pasta. Most common type is thin, round strand that is sold both fresh and dry. They tend to be yellowish in color. Egg noodles are used in stir-fried dishes, as well as in soups and available both fresh and dried. For storage, fresh noodles will keep in the bottom part of your refrigerator for at least 2 or 3 days. Dried noodle keep indefinitely.

SESAME OIL [Nam Mun Nga]
Sesame Oil. This dark amber, very aromatic oil is pressed from toasted white sesame seeds and has strong, rich nutty flavor. It is used as a flavoring in many Asian dishes and is not used for frying. Store in cool dark place, but not in the refrigerator where it will turn cloudy.

The tiny, oval, oil-rich seeds of an annual herb, sesame seeds are used throughout Asia for their flavor and their high protein content.

White sesame seeds are the most common. Toasted and crushed, they are an essential ingredient in Asian foods. Whole seeds are used as a garnish for both savory and sweet dishes and breads.

Black Sesame Seeds have a more earthy taste. They are used in sesame and seaweed sprinkle, Japanese condiment and in some Chinese desserts.

Spring roll wrapper. Made from a mixture of rice flour, water, and salt these are rolled out by machine to paper thinness and then dried on bamboo mats in the sun, which gives then their beautiful cross-hatch imprint or pattern. Rice papers are used extensively for wrapping Vietnamese spring rolls of pork and seafood, which are then fried and wrapped with crispy fresh lettuce and herbs and finally dipped in a sweet, sour hot sauce. Useful Hints: Rice paper must be softened before use. Simply immerse them, one or two sheet at a time, in a warm water. Soak them until they are soft, approximately 1 or 2 minutes. Handle them carefully as the sheets are brittle. Drain them on a linen towel before rolling.


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