Monday, June 29, 2009

Pad Thai

So this blog has gone slightly by the wayside, BUT I have something to add. After three years of trying to make pad thai at home taste like pad thai in a restaurant, I finally found a combination that works.

“This actually tastes like Pad Thai!” Pad Thai:

The Noodles:

16 oz. Rice Sticks (I used King Brand, but any Thai rice stick (it looks like rice fettucini) should work)

Submerge in cold water until the noodles are pliable but not soft. Drain.

The Sauce:

½ cup tamarind pulp (without seeds) It should be the consistency of room temperature ketchup.
½ cup fish sauce (if you want to veganize this thing, it recommends light Thai soy sauce, but I don't know if that will work the same way)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon sambal (or 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper) This is scant, but you can spice it more once it's cooked, don't overdo it.

Whisk together. It should taste tangy and salty. It'll be about 1 ½ cups of sauce. You'll use most of it.


Choose one:
- Shrimp (1 lb raw shrimp, deshelled and deveined) and Tofu (1/2 lb extra firm tofu, water drained, cut into matchsticks) This is the traditional combination.
- Tofu (1 lb extra firm tofu, water drained, cut into matchsticks)
- Chicken (1 lb, cut into bite-sized pieces) (If you cook with chicken, you may want to add two cloves crushed garlic when cooking it.)

The Other Stuff:

2 carrots, julienne
½ cup fined sliced cabbage
1 stalk finely sliced celery
12 green onions, cut into 1” pieces
3 cups bean sprouts
4 eggs

½ cup water

The Garnishes:

½ cup chopped roasted peanuts
1 lime, wedged
More crushed red pepper

Secret One: Have everything ready before you even think about starting cooking. Everything should be in its own separate bowl at a hands reach away.

Secret Two: Make it in batches, two servings at a time. This will assure that the noodles don't stick and everything is covered in sauce and everything is cooked. Sooooo... decide how many batches you will cook and divide ingredients accordingly when cooking. The following process you will follow twice for the amount of ingredients above, so use half the ingredients each time.

Heat oil (Secret Three: don't skimp. 3-4 tablespoons at least) in a wok on high heat. Swirl around until the oil coats all of the pan. If you are cooking with tofu, add the tofu and cook until slightly crispy and browned, a few minutes. If you are cooking with chicken, add crushed garlic and chicken pieces and cook until the outsides are no longer pink. (I used tongs for this, it's easy to toss the ingredients this way.)

Add carrots, cabbage, celery and noodles and toss to combine. Add a half cup of the sauce and toss together. When the noodles will start to look like they are floppy and cooked, add the shrimp, and then push noodle mixture to the side to make space for the eggs. Break two eggs into the cleared space and break the yolks. Grind a small amount of fresh pepper and mix the eggs briefly. Wait until the bottoms of the eggs set, and mix again. Once the bottoms set one more time, mix the eggs into the noodle mixture. Stir until the eggs are cooked. If the noodles look pale, add more sauce, but don't make it soupy. Add green onions and bean sprouts and ¼ cup water and cover for a minute (this will finish cooking the noodles). Uncover and mix, taste and make sure the noodles are cooked. Remove from pan and garnish with peanuts, fresh lime and crushed red pepper.

When making the second batch, make sure the pan is scraped clean and add another 3-4 tablespoons oil. Repeat the process again and again and again and again.

It got thumbs up from my dad and my brother, the two pad thai connoisseurs in the family. Delightful!