Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes 1½ cups , enough to dress

    4 to 6

    Salads or Stir-Fries

Appears in

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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Ingredients

  • ½ ounce dry rice sticks
  • 2 to 4 cups corn or peanut oil, for deep-frying

Method

  1. Carefully pull apart the rice sticks so that you have a very thin web. If fried in too thick a layer, the outer sticks will puff while the inner ones stay wire-like.
  2. In a wok or deep, heavy skillet, add oil to a depth of 2 inches. Balance a deep-fry thermometer on the rim of the pan. Bring the oil to 375°F, hot enough to puff a single rice stick on contact. Adjust the heat so the temperature doesn’t climb.
  3. Toss half of the noodles into the oil. They should puff and turn snowy white on contact. Turn the nest over with chopsticks or tongs, wait a second or two for them to puff, then transfer them immediately to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rice sticks.
  4. Just before using, gently press on the nest to break it into bits.
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