From The Elements of Life: A Contemporary Guide to Thai Recipes and Traditions for Healthier Living by Su-Mei Yu (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009). Copyright © 2009 by Su-Mei Yu. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon rice bran, safflower, sunflower, or soybean oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 4 thin slices fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2/3 cup thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons white wine
1 cup bean threads, softened in cool water, dried, and cut into manageable lengths
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and wait for another minute. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until the garlic is golden. Add the chicken and stir-fry until it is partially cooked. Add the onion and cabbage, stir to mix, then add the soy sauce and wine.
Continue to stir-fry until the chicken is fully cooked, the cabbage softened but slightly firm, and onion translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the bean threads and stir until they are soft and translucent. Add the cilantro and toss to mix. Transfer to a platter and serve with hot white, brown, or red rice.

Bean thread noodles are also called mung bean noodles and cellophane noodles; once rehydrated (they're already cooked), they are as clear as cellophane, light and low in starch. Asian sections of supermarkets often stock them and, of course, Asian markets, too.

Keep bean threads and their cousins, rice noodles, on hand not only for stir fries, but for fast Asian salads that use up odds and ends that usually wilt away in the vegetable drawer. For instance, shreds of cabbage, thinly sliced broccoli stems, scallions, tart apple cut into sticks (a stand-in for the tart green mango or papaya), maybe chile and fresh coriander, all mixed with the soaked noodles. A dressing could be lime, sugar, a little fish sauce, and garlic to taste.

Try serving red rice with this recipe as Su-Mei Yu suggests. Because it is only partially hulled there's still the red husk and germ, giving it a nutty, earthy flavor and, according to Su-Mei Yu, more nutrients than white rice. The only caveat with red rice is that it must be soaked in water for at least two hours, and overnight is preferable. And more water is needed when cooking it. Su-Mei Yu says she uses 2-1/3 cups of water per 1 cup of rice instead of the usual 2 cups of water to 1 cup rice. Look for red rice in Asian or Indian markets, where it might be labeled Bhutanese red rice. Online sources include, and

Su-Mei also shares one of the classic recipes you'll find all over Asia: ginger tea. She says it's believed that the tea "warms the respiratory system." Perhaps it's true. What I know for a fact is how warming it is as a welcome home for the evening. You can brew it in minutes. For summer, ice it and squeeze some lime into the glass.