No matter how many noodles you know and love, there’s always more to discover. It’s a distinct joy and benefit to eating out; exploring global flavors without hopping on a plane, using your vacation days, or even coordinating a babysitter to watch the kids. Ordinary days are transformed into unforgettable ones with a single bite. That’s the story of how I first found out about Áp Chảo Chay.
What Is Áp Chảo Chay?
Áp Chảo means both pan-fried and sauteed, so what you get are sheets of fused noodles that are chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. It’s a multidimensional textural experience, and every bite is a bit different. Some pieces have a resounding crunch like a deep-fried wonton, while others have more of an al dente give. It’s unlike any other straight-forward stir fry and something everyone should have in their lives.
Chay, of course, simply means vegetarian, so you get an assortment of tender-crisp fresh veggies and tofu, rounding out the meal.
Where Can You Find Áp Chảo Chay?
This Vietnamese specialty is surprisingly hard to come by in the states, which is why it took me so long to get my first, completely revolutionary taste. It’s not something you can simply order if it’s not on the menu, given the difficulty and time involved, but it’s worth asking around if restaurant owners know another place that could accommodate.
Many versions on the concept exist, of course, the most popular of which being Áp Chảo Bo, with beef. If you happen to find this, you can easily request it without meat; the rest of the dish is usually “accidentally” vegan without eggs or dairy, but you will want to specify in case fish sauce or oyster sauce come into play.
The specific noodles can vary as well. Some use wide, flat rice noodles (as seen here) while others use thinner pho noodles or even vermicelli.
How To Make Áp Chảo Chay
Though simple in concept, success rests solely on technique for this dish. To be honest, I haven’t been able to get it right yet, but there are plenty of people much more experienced in the art that can help guide you.
- Wandering Chopsticks is truly the online authority on Vietnamese cooking, so I’d trust this version of Pho Ap Chao Bo implicitly. To veganize, replace the fish sauce with soy sauce, and use your favorite plant-based protein instead of beef.
- Cooking Off The Cuff takes a more soupy approach, filling a bowl for this Phở Áp Chảo with hot broth to finish. Same notes for veganizing, though you could use vegetarian oyster sauce here if you can find it.
Not everything needs to be spicy, but if you’re a heat-seeker, stock up on hot chili oil to lavish on top. That bright finishing touch makes an already excellent dish utterly unassailable.
Try a new noodle tonight. There’s still so many more out there, waiting to be savored.