1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar (white granulated)
1 cup vinegar (white)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 lb dried shrimp (kung haeng)
8 each serrano chilies
1 bunch green onions (whites only)
8 oz tofu, firm or extra firm
3 each eggs
2 cup vegetable oil (approx. amnt)
1/4 lb rice noodles (very thin)
1. Combine the water, sugar, vinegar, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and cook about ten minutes, until it forms a thin syrup. Set aside.
2. Put the dried shrimp in a sieve and rinse them thoroughly under running water. Set them aside in the sieve to drain. Remove the stems, but not the seeds, from the chilies. Slice the green onions and chilies lengthwise into thin strips and set them aside together.
3. Slice the tofu into 1/4-inch cubes and set aside. Beat the eggs lightly, until they are well mixed but not frothy. Strain through a fine sieve and set aside.
4. Pour about three inches of oil in a wok and heat it to 400 degrees F. Dry the tofu with paper towels and deep fry it until the cubes are firm and light golden, but not dry and hard. Remove them from the oil and set aside to drain on paper towels.
5. Using the same oil, deep fry the noodles a handful at a time. The noodles will puff up immediately and begin to turn brown in about ten seconds. (Note: these are the same type of noodles that are used to make chinese chicken salad.) Be careful not to let them burn. They should be light golden and very puffy. If they do not expand immediately upon touching the oil, the oil is not hot enough. If they turn dark immediately, the oil is too hot. Scoop the noodles out to drain on paper towels. Remove about half the oil from the wok and save it for another use.
6. Dribble the beaten, sieved eggs over the surface of the hot oil in the wok, to form narrow strands: holding the bowl of eggs in one hand, dip the other into the eggs, stretch it out about 12 inches over the oil, and let the egg run in a thin, steady stream from your fingertips while moving your hand in a circular motion so the surface of the oil is covered wit a thin net of egg. You will need to repeat this procedure about four times. The intent is to create a thin net of egg strands that will cook quickly without massing together. When the strands are set completely and light golden on the bottom, flip them over carefully and brown the other side. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
7. Dry the shrimp thoroughly with paper towels. Using the same oil, deep fry the shrimp until they are just crisp and light golden, about three minutes. Be prepared for the very strong smell they produce as they fry, but don't be concerned, since the shrimp will taste nothing like they smell. (You may wish to do this well in advance of the time your guests will arrive and set the shrimp aside to drain on paper towels.) They will form a great deal of foam while they are frying, and it will be necessary to use a strainer to lift them up occasionally to see how well they are cooking. Do not over cook them or let them get dry or hard! Remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels. Discard the remaining oil.
8. Clean the wok thoroughly and place half the sugar syrup from step 1 in it. Heat the syrup almost to boiling, but do not let it boil. Add half the noodles, half the egg nets (see the variation below), half the tofu, and half the shrimp. Mix gently until the syrup is absorbed, being careful to break the noodles as little as possible. Remove the mixture from the wok and place it on a serving platter. Repeat this step with the rest of the syrup, noodles, eggs, and shrimp.
9. Garnish the Mee Krob with the green onion whites and chilies. Serve immediately or hold it at room temperature for up to two hours.
VARIATION: If the eggs have formed attractive nets (you should be so lucky!), you may drape them over the Mee Krob as a garnish rather than adding them in step 8.
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