A lesser known sidekick to the infamous Pad Thai is an equally delicious and lighter dish called Pad Woonsen. Like Pad Thai, Pad Woonsen is a stir-fry dish of noodles, vegetables and any selection of meats or seafood. The stark contrast between the two lies in the kind of noodles and sauce. Woonsen is cellophane noodles, also known as clear noodles, or mung bean noodles. This is not to be confused with rice stick noodles or vermicelli, which often has deceptively similar packaging in Asian stores and a similar size. Cellophane noodles are clear and translucent when cooked whereas rice stick noodles are white both raw and cooked. In this recipe I’ve created a vegetarian Pad Woonsen which is the basis for any other version. You could add chicken, pork, beef or prawns to the same recipe with just slight adjustments in the seasoning. Light and savory, this is a great alternative to the heavier Pad Thai.
Serves 4 to 6
1 package dry cellophane noodles
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 cloves garlic finely minced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 scallions chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 large celery stalk, chopped into thin diagonal pieces
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
Soak the noodles in warm water for half an hour until soft, then drain and set aside.
In a large wok, heat the oil on high heat. Sauté the garlic for 1 to 2 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.
Crack the eggs into the wok and scramble gently just until they are nearly done. Add the onion, scallions and celery, stir-frying quickly for just about 1/2 a minute.
Lower the heat to medium and add the drained noodles. Stir-fry the noodles by folding gently but quickly. Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce and sugar into the noodles, tossing quickly but making sure everything is mixed thoroughly.
The noodles should be done very quickly. Make sure to mix thoroughly and toss quickly so all the noodles have a chance to feel the heat of the wok and absorb the flavors.