May Oo Tha
Making "kyar san kyaw" Stir-fried Vermicelli
Vermicelli is a thin form of rice noodles that is extremely popular in South East Asian cuisine as well as Chinese cuisine. But don’t mistake it for egg or wheat noodles that are normally used in ramen or chow mein. There are different kinds of vermicelli dishes that each Asian country adapted, such as bún in Vietnam used in various dishes including Phở, bee hoon used for Singapore fried rice noodles (it’s also called this in Malaysia), bihon in the Phillippines to make pancit and kyar san in Myanmar used in various dishes. Mohinga, the most well-known Burmese dish also contains a certain type of kyar zan as the main carb.
South East Asia cuisine is completely unique in that each country has their own individual regional dishes while some dishes are inspired by one another. In addition, there is some influence of Chinese ingredients from the north east and Indian influences from the west. We are a melting pot of sorts, marinating in a blend of different flavors.
I’m making a dish called kyar san kyaw which can translate to Stir-fried Vermicelli and I’m going to make it vegetarian and loading it up with lots of veggies. From what I’ve had so far, it is a bit similar to pancit and Singapore fried Rice noodles.
Kyar san kyaw is a quick, one pot dish with a healthy balance of carbs, fat and protein. My mom would make it when we'd get tired of eating Burmese curries with rice – it’s something that is quick and convenient for families. This stir-fried vermicelli version is inspired by Chinese-Burmese flavors that I grew up eating in Myanmar -- a country tucked between the biggest Asian countries, India and China. I grew up eating dumplings, noodle soups, Chinese pork bbq (the whole body), fried noodles among many other dishes and influences, so this recipe is one of the dishes that was readily adapted in Burmese households.
Standout ingredients: soy sauce, oyster sauce and five spice powder (optional!)
152 g or 5.4 oz rice vermicelli
3 eggs + 1/4 tbsp soy sauce to make an omelet
1 cup green beans, cut in half
3/4 cup carrots, chopped
2.5 cups cabbage, shredded
1.5 tbsp oil of vegetable or canola oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 stems scallions, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 1/4 tbsp soy sauce, or to taste
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp chili flakes, or to taste
a pinch of five spice powder (optional)
Boil the rice noodles as per package instructions. Meanwhile, whisk the 3 eggs with ¼ tbsp of soy sauce and on a separate pan, add a little bit of oil and make an omelet. Cut them into pieces.
Put oil in the wok and put on medium high heat. Once hot, put in the chopped green onions and garlic. After 2 or 3 mins or until browned, add green beans, carrots and cabbage, putting the latter two after 3 minutes. Add ½ tbsp oyster sauce and ½ tbsp soy sauce. Sauté the veggies until almost cooked especially the green beans.
Add the boiled vermicelli. Add 1 tbsp of oyster sauce, ½ tbsp of soy sauce and ¼ tsp of salt (or to taste). Mix until the vermicelli is fully coated with the sauce or until the bottom is slightly charred. Turn off the heat, add a pinch of five spice powder (optional), chili flakes, mix it up a little bit and add the cut omelet pieces into the noodle mixture. Scoop it up in a bowl and enjoy!
P.S: Add more protein like chicken, pork or shrimp if you wish! Use sliced chicken or pork and cook it in the wok before the veggies go in.