The oodles of takes on noodles

The comfort food can be served in soup or dry in several styles

Photos: Suthon Sukphisit

In their most popular forms kuay tio -- rice noodles -- are prepared in two ways. As kuay tio nam they are served in broth, and there are countless variants on this basic noodle soup. The other approach is to stir-fry the noodles in a wok to make phat kuay tio, and here again there is a long list of different fried noodles no less irresistible to noodle lovers as the repertoire of kuay tio nam.

Some of the wok-fried fried noodle dishes that are especially familiar are kuay tio raad naa (topped with meat in gravy), phat see iew (stir-fried with soy sauce Taechew style), fried crisp and topped with bamboo shoots in gravy (koy sim mee), Cantonese broad rice noodles fried and topped with beef, broad noodles stir-fried with chicken to make kuay tio khua kai or topped with minced beef fried with curry powder to make kuay tio nuea sap, and, finally, the internationally popular phat Thai.

These dishes are made with different kinds of noodles depending on their appropriateness to the recipe and the preferences of the people who will be eating them. For example raad naa and Taechew-style phat see iew can be made with either sen yai (broad noodles) or the extremely fine-gauge, angel hair like noodles called sen mee. Crisp-fried koy sim mee is only made with the wheat noodles called ba-mee. Kuay tio khua kai and kuay tio nuea sap with curry powder can only be made with the broad noodles, while phat Thai demands the small-gauge sen lek.

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