This is a dish of contrasting flavors,
textures and colors, and in Vietnam it is cooked with skill and dexterity.
While one hand gently turns the noodles in the pan, the other takes chunks
of fresh crab meat and drops them into the steaming wok to seal. When you
watch the expert cooks who specialize in this dish, mien xao cua, they
make it look like an art form. Here the crab meat is cooked separately to
make it easier for the uninitiated.
Dried cloud ear (wood ear) mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
Dried bean thread (cellophane) noodles, soaked in warm water for 20
Vegetable or sesame oil
Shallots, halved and thinly sliced
Green or red Thai chilies, seeded and sliced
Carrot, peeled and cut into thin diagonal rounds
Water or chicken stock
Fresh, raw crab meat, cut into bite-size chunks
Ground black pepper
Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, for garnishing
Remove the centres form the soaked wood
ear mushrooms and cut the mushrooms in half.
Drain the soaked noodles and cut them into
30 cm pieces.
Heat a wok or heavy pan and add 15 ml oil.
Stir in the shallots, garlic and chilies, and cook until fragrant. Add
the carrot rounds and cook for 1 minute, then add the mushrooms.
Stir in the sugar with the oyster and soy
sauces, followed by the bean thread noodles.
Pour in the water or stock, cover the wok
or pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the noodles are soft and
have absorbed most of the sauce.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a
heavy pan. Add the crab meat and cook until it is nicely pink and
tender. Season well with black pepper.
Arrange the noodles and crab meat on a