Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pad Thai at Home


Wow this really flexed my food brain. My husband has been saying for years that I could make Pad Thai at home, and I've never really wanted to give it a try. I thought it would be too hard or have weird ingredients, plus I enjoy having a few foods in my life that are sovereign, where I don't try to dilute their magnificence by my horrible at-home attempts. Some of the foods on that list include: sushi, ribs, and fried calamri. Chicken wings used to be on that list, as did Cuban sandwiches, but once I gave them a try they weren't so scary.

While I can say that this Pad That does have different ingredients than what I normally stock in my kitchen, it was actually very easy to whip up. It included a stop at a local Chinese grocery store. I bought a huge bottle of fish sauce, tamarind pulp, rice noodles, and a bag of jasmine brown rice. The brown rice was a great surprise, as I love jasmine rice, and even better if it comes in a healthy brown rice form! That's for another night!

All of these ingredients were significantly cheaper than buying them at the "regular" grocery store, and I actually had a great selection of fish sauces to choose from, and a wall of rice noodles thicknesses and shapes to parouse.

It would have been a great trip, if I wasn't constantly "reminding" my two-year old not to climb into the bins of rice or pull huge bottles of soy sauce onto himself. I actually let the scary older Chinese cashier (who turned out to be very friendly and helpful) chastise my child in Chinese because I thought maybe it would sink in after reminding him every other minute to keep his hands to himself...it straightened him right up. I might ask her to make house calls.

Then at home, I started following Chez Pim's recipe for Pad Thai. She has a great set of instructions with all the variations, tips, and authentic secrets in there. My version is not truly authentic, (i.e. no wok) nor did I have all of the ingredients she mentioned, but this was an Americanized version that was similar to a lot of Pad Thai's I've eaten out, including one of favorites at Pei Wei

Pad Thai
makes approx 2 servings


Sauce:
1/2 cup tamarind pulp, reconstiuted *
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup white sugar
Cayene powder or Sirarcha sauce
* If you buy a block of tamarind, like I had to, soak it in 4 cups of hot water, break it up, then run it through a fine mesh strainer. Store the sauce in your frig. This is a lot of work, but you only have to do it once to get approx 3 cups of tamarind sauce.


8 oz dried rice noodles, soaked according to package instructions (I used half of my 8.00mm width package)
3-4 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
2 eggs
1 cup broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup carrots, cut into long thin pieces
chopped peanuts for garnish
cilantro for garnish
lime slices for topping at the table

Sauce:
To make about two cups of sauce, you should begin with about 1/2 cup of Tamarind,1/2 cup Fish Sauce, and 1/3 cup white sugar. Melt all these together in a small pot over a low flame. Taste and adjust the flavor balance until it suits you. (I added a little more sugar) Then add the cayenne powder, or siraracha sauce, a little bit at a time, until the heat level is where you want it. Don't overlook this (as I did) as you really need even a little bit to round out the flavor. Once the sauce has simmered for a little bit, turn off the heat and let it rest while you prepare the rest of the dish.

1. Get your pan with the oil in it really hot.
2. Add harder veggies(broccoli and carrots), cook for 1 or 2 minutes, add chicken pieces and cook until chicken is halfway done.
3. Add noodles, and about 1/4 cup of warm pad thai sauce from the pot on your stove. Stir it up.
4. Add beaten egg, let sit for a little bit to set the eggs, then stir in your softer veggies (bean sprouts, if using)
5. Add more pad thai sauce if it looks pale.
6. Remove from heat, spilt up into plates, then top with chopped peanuts and cilantro.

The verdict?
My husband said "Wow" about six times. It really stroked my Cooking Ego, since it was a lot of work to get these new ingredients and figure out a seemingly complicated recipe, but I was honestly surprised at how great it was. I realized at the table the importance of the sirarcha sauce to flavor of the sauce. I thought if I left the heat out, my son would eat it. I was wrong, but my husband and I gobbled it all up. I will probably give this another go round this week, it was that good!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

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