Pad ThaiPosted: August 9, 2012
As you can tell, I stuck to using up my fruit by baking them into sweet things. I’m not saying I wouldn’t try fruit in a savory dish (I once made a pear & cheese quesadilla) but there were just so many tasties calling out to me. Maybe next year I’ll branch out a little bit more.
For now, let’s take a quick break and talk about noodles. Yes, I know I could fill a book talking about my love of noodles. So let’s narrow it down a bit, shall we?
Pad thai. That quintessential dish with its lightly sweetened sauce, soft rice noodles, crunchy bean sprouts and chopped peanuts. There is a wonderful Thai restaurant in my hometown whose pad thai I have unequivocally endorsed as the best pad thai ever. And I order pad thai every time I go to a place where it’s on the menu. None have been better. Not even my own rendition sadly. But! This is the closest I’ve come to recreating it, and believe me, there have been multiple attempts.
The key to pad thai’s sweetness lies in using tamarind paste, as well as sugar. I would never trust any pad thai recipe that includes ketchup. Pad thai is not red. There is definitely no ketchup in a thai kitchen. If you can’t find tamarind paste at your local Asian grocer, try Amazon. It is truly a key ingredient in getting your pad thai to taste like it came from a restaurant. I didn’t have bean sprouts on hand, so I only used scallions for garnish. I wasn’t going to drive for 30 mins just to get bean sprouts.
Even without their iconic crunch, I loved every bite of this pad thai. I can’t wait to make it again.
Adapted from Cook Like a Champion
Makes 4 servings
2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
2/3 cup hot water
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
¾ tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
8 ounces dried rice noodles about 1/8-inch wide
2 large eggs
¼ tsp salt
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
6 Tbsp chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
3 cups fresh bean sprouts
5 green onions, green parts only, sliced thinly
In a small bowl, dissolve tamarind concentrate in hot water. Stir in fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne and 2 Tbsp of oil and set aside. Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Soak until softened and pliable but not completely tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. Whisk together eggs and 1/8 tsp of salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over high heat for about 2 minutes, or until it’s just beginning to smoke. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes or until cooked through and pink. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Off heat, add the remaining Tbsp of oil to skillet and swirl to coat. Add garlic and shallot and return pan to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes or until light golden brown. Add eggs and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula until scrambled, about 20 seconds. Add noodles and toss to combine. Pour the tamarind mixture over the noodles and increase heat to high. Cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce. Add 1/4 cup of peanuts, bean sprouts, shrimp and all but ¼ cup of the green onions to the noodles. Continue tossing until well combined and noodles are tender, 2-3 minutes. If noodles are not yet tender, add 2 Tbsp of water to skillet and continue cooking.
Transfer to serving dishes and sprinkle with remaining green onions and peanuts.