One of the great thrills of Chinese cooking is to toss a handful of dry rice noodles into hot oil and watch them puff up in a nest. It’s a swift bit of kitchen magic: The opaque, wire-like strands loop and bloom within seconds into a snowy tangle. One can get easily carried away, producing buckets of the stuff.
A small wad of noodles and a modest amount of oil will yield enough noodles to enliven a stir-fry or salad dramatically. Try it when your spirits are low and/or your lettuce leaves need a lift.
Rice sticks are best used within a day of frying, while they’re crisp and fresh. The frying oil is easily strained and recycled for another use.
Use only fresh, pristine oil for frying rice sticks. If the oil has been filtered from other frying, the sticks won’t fry properly and will be gray instead of snowy.
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