Pad Woon Sen. Thai Glass Noodle Stir Fry.
Pad Woon Sen is the lesser known cousin of Pad Thai, although it is just as delicious. It is glass noodles (mung bean noodles) stir fried with a protein of your choice, egg, and vegetables; usually cabbage, long green beans, tomatoes, and carrots with soy sauce and white pepper seasonings.
I haven’t made pad woon sen for awhile now, so lately I’ve been craving it. Usually my mom would make it all the time so I would get a lot of leftovers from her, but since I’m not able to see her for who knows how long (she’s stuck in Cambodia at the moment), I really miss it.
So I checked my fridge to see if I have all the ingredients for it and luckily I do. I started cutting up all the vegetables, then the chicken, and then I started looking for the noodle. I have a lot of different types of noodles I stocked up so I assumed I had some glass noodles somewhere in my pantry. And of course, just my luck, I did not. I had almost every type of thin noodle but glass noodle. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
Anyways, this recipe usually calls for thin glass noodle, Woonsen (sometimes also referred to as cellophane noodles, mung bean noodle or fensi noodle), but since I didn’t have it on hand, I replaced it with thin rice vermicelli noodle. Since this widespread chaos happened, I grocery shop once every two week so If I don’t have ingredient for a specific meal I’m craving, I just experiment and make do with what I have. I realize I don’t have the patience to wait 30 minutes in line outside the store to purchase only 5 – 10 items. I miss the good ol days.
Any-who, replacing Woonsen with Rice Vermicelli tastes just as good, but I think I prefer it with glass noodle just because I prefer my rice noodle in Pad Mee Korat or Yum Sen Mee.
What Are Glass Noodles (Woonsen)?
Woonsen, or glass noodles are noodles made from mung bean, sweet potato, potato or tapioca starch. Commonly used in Asian cuisine, they are sold in their dry form in packaged bundles; separated into 1 serving bundles for convenience. These glass noodles may appear in opaque shades of white, grey or pale brown, however, once soaked in water, they turn translucent and glass-like. They can be confused with rice vermicelli, so always check the ingredient section before purchasing.
Taste wise glass noodles is similar to wheat noodles, however, there texture are slightly heavier and softer. I find that glass noodles are easier for the beginner cook since the noodles easily absorb liquid, so you can be liberal with sauce when stir-frying, unlike rice vermicelli noodle. You can usually find them at most Asian supermarket, they’re quite popular in all Asia region. If you do not have an Asian market near you, you can find the noodles easily online.
Ingredients for Pad Woon Sen
Preparing the glass noodle —soak the glass noodles in room temperature water for about 10 – 15 minutes. Usually, it’s better to do this before you start preparing the rest of the ingredients. Don’t do what I did, and looking for it after preparing everything. You can drain them after 10 minutes using a colander or strainer. Touch the noodles and make sure all area are soaked through and a bit flexible. Using a food scissor, cut them into 6 inch threads (they stir fry and mix more easily).
Prepping the vegetables —Pad Woon Sen recipes usually calls for long green beans, cabbages, Chinese broccoli, bean sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, onion, shallots and garlic. You don’t have to use all the vegetables I’ve mention, just use ones you prefer that suits your palate (except garlic and shallots, they’re mandatory in most Asian recipes). Julienne the cabbage, carrots and Chineses broccoli. For green bean, I usually chop them at an angle into tiny 1 cm pieces. Their texture is crunchy when cooked so when you cut them into large pieces, they don’t taste as good, and they tend to overpower other ingredients.
What meat to use for pad woon sen —you can use any protein of your choice. For any stir fry recipe, if you’re using chicken, dark meat is better than the breast.
Pad Woon Sen Recipe
Pad Woon Sen Recipe
- 4 small bundles of glass noodles 160 grams
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
Ingredients for Sauce
- 1½ tbsp soy sauce
- 1½ tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp black vinegar or lime
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 red bird's eye chili peppers thinly sliced at an angle
- 3/4 cup chicken thighs cut into small pieces
- 1 cup long green beans sliced at an angle, 1 cm pieces
- 2 cups korean cabbage core removed, cut into thin shreds
- 1 cup carrots julienne
- 1/2 cup tomatoes sliced into bite size pieces
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Soak the noodles in warm water until it is bendable and slightly soft, about 10 - 15 minutes. Rinse and cut the glass noodles with cooking scissors into 6″ long threads.
- In a large non-stick frying pan, over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the garlic and shallot. Stir until golden brown and fragrant.
- Add the chicken and stir fry until it is cooked half-way, or no longer pink (about a minute). Add the carrots and long green beans. Stir for another minute.
- Add the noodles and the sauce. Stir until completely mixed. Add the Korean cabbages.
- Stir fry to mix all the ingredients completely. Check the noodles to see if it is al-dente. If the mixture is a bit dry, add some more chicken stock or water.
- Add the tomatoes and stir just to mix up the ingredients and heat up the tomatoes a bit; don't cook them.
- Taste and adjust to your liking using salt and pepper.
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