My 2014 posts on Guilin rice noodles (Guilin mifen 桂林米粉 master stock and noodle staging) are two of the most viewed posts on this blog. Google is the primary referrer, and I attribute these search engine queries to: 1. people learning to love the popular and ubiquitous noodle dish in any one of China’s many large cities and then returning home to find no such comparable offerings, and 2. curious people finding this dish for the first time in places like Flushing, NY (see here for Guilin Mifen’s Yelp page).
The process that I introduced in my previous posts requires many ingredients and several hours of boiling or braising meats and boiling down the master stock. That said, once that is done, the master stock can be frozen and thawed repeatedly for semi-instant results later on down the road. Last night I had some meat that I needed to deal with somehow, and I decided to braise it in some frozen stock. This morning that became a simple and delicious Guilin rice noodle breakfast.
Just to review, mifen 米粉 are noodles made from rice flour and water, they are often fermented, and then extruded into foot-long segments.
This style of noodle is most common in the South/Southwest regions of China, from Guizhou south through Yunnan and Guangxi, and further south to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.
Between countries and regions, the names of these noodles can vary. In China they are often called “Guilin mifen” (as the package to the left is labeled), but Jiangxi rice noodles are virtually identical. In Vietnam, the thinner variety of rice noodles can be called bún and the thicker kind are known as bánh (and in my prior post on Guilin rice noodles I used a giant bánh). In Thailand they are called khanom jiin ขนมจีน (see here for a past post that discussed how these are used in Thailand).
In Philadelphia we can only find these noodles (to my knowledge anyway) dried. That said, they are available in a wide variety of thicknesses in the bulk noodle section of Asian markets.
Recipe: Simplified Guilin rice noodles
This is less a step-by-step recipe than a set of very basic guidelines. I should say that I am missing a standard ingredient this morning, the crunchy bean/nut topping (usually soy nuts)–see my prior post on this dish to learn about the more common pickles and crunchy toppings. Even without the soy nuts the noodles were still delicious and satisfying.
1. Prepare braising liquid (aka master stock). Thaw it from the freezer, or make it new. I boiled some chunks of pork butt for about an hour last night in the stock.
2. Boil rice noodles. I use a very wide pot for that. In China, noodles are usually about the size of spaghetti, so choose the large size (L), or (XL)–see package above. Rice noodles need more time than pasta and/or egg noodles. The ones I boiled today were cooked with a little bit of a bite at about 15 minutes. You can then drain and rinse the noodles to stop the cooking process, but if you are eating them right away you can just take out the hot noodles into a bowl. If you rinse them, you might like to pass them through boiling water again, just to heat them up–otherwise cold noodles and hot stock would be room temperature very quickly.
3. Depending on how strong your stock is (i.e. how concentrated), you might want to mix in some boiling water (or noodle-boiling water) to the stock that you ladle over the noodles. My stock was not super concentrated, and was very good just on its own. Give it a taste and decide for yourself. After adding the stock and/or boiling water, top off with meat, cilantro, and pickled vegetables. We had some pickled mustard kicking around in the fridge, so that was today’s pickle. Pickled mustard should be rinsed and squeezed dry before chopping.