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Best Recipes, Fish and Shellfish, Mains, Quick and Easy

Rice noodles with Chinese chives, shrimp and pork (banh pho xao he)

Rice noodles with Chinese chives, shrimp and pork (banh pho xao he)
Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

At this time of year, like many cooks, I'm obsessed with fresh herbs. But you can keep your Genovese basil, French tarragon and Italian parsley; for me the magic is in the leafy aromatics of the Vietnamese table -- red ... Read more

Total time: 35 minutes, plus soaking time for the noodles | Serves 2 to 3
  • 1/2 pound medium dried flat rice noodles (banh pho)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into pea-sized pieces
  • 1/3 pound ground pork, coarsely chopped to loosen
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound Chinese chives, bottom 1/2 inch trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 2 or 3 limes, quartered

Step 1Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with hot tap water. Let them soak until they are pliable and opaque, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and use kitchen scissors to cut them into 3- to 4-inch lengths.

Step 2To make the flavoring sauce, in a small bowl combine 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar, the fish sauce and water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

Step 3In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry just until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the shrimp and pork and stir briefly to break up the meat. Sprinkle in the salt and remaining one-fourth teaspoon sugar. Keep stirring until the shrimp and pork have turned opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Chinese chives. Because there is so much food in the pan now, use 2 cooking utensils to stir and toss the ingredients, ensuring even exposure to the heat. (Think of tossing a big salad.)

Step 4When the chives have collapsed by one-third of their original volume, after about 3 minutes, add the noodles and combine well. When all of the ingredients are well combined, give the flavoring sauce a stir and pour over the mixture. Continue stirring and tossing 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until the noodles and chives are soft and cooked.

Step 5Remove from the heat, squeeze 4 lime wedges (1 lime) over the noodles, and mix well to distribute the flavors. Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately with the remaining lime wedges.

Note: Chinese chives are significantly larger than Western chives, and their flat leaves have a delicate garlic, rather than onion, flavor. In Chinese and Southeast Asian markets, they are typically sold in 1-pound bundles. Vietnamese cooks treat them like a green vegetable, often cooking them with noodles.


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