Monday, February 25, 2008

Pad Thai

The kids loved dinner tonight!

I have a weakness for anything spicy, salty, sour, and sweet. And what better dish to capture all 4 of my favorite flavors than Pad Thai? I've been on a Thai food kick lately. I went to Thai Chili Garden for lunch 2 weeks ago, went to Thai Ruby last week, made Green Curry with Thai sticky rice (in the hat shaped bamboo steamer even) for dinner Sunday, and today made Pad Thai. Oh, what glorious noodles! I used the recipe from and found a favorite! It's in my book entitled The Best 30-Minute Recipe, one of my favorite cookbooks. Ok, any cookbook by CooksIllustrated/ America's Test Kitchen is a favorite.

My substitutions: I did substitue soy sauce for the fish sauce because I didn't have any. Honestly, I love dishes with fish sauce in a restaurants, but at home it just doesn't work for me. I'm sure I just bought a bad brand. After all, who doesn't love fermented fish in a salty solution? I hate shrimp, so I used shredded chicken. And I doubled this for a main meal for our family of 5. I also used lemon juice for the 1/3 cup lime juice, but I did have lime wedges to squeeze at the dinner table--that's the kids favorite part, squeezing the limes.

A wok might be the implement of choice in restaurants and the old country, but a large 12-inch skillet (nonstick makes cleanup easy) is more practical for home cooks. Although pad thai cooks very quickly, the ingredient list is long, and everything must be prepared and within easy reach at the stovetop when you begin cooking. For maximum efficiency, use the time during which the noodles soak to prepare the other ingredients. Tofu is a good and common addition to pad thai. If you like, add 4 ounces of extra-firm tofu or pressed tofu (available in Asian markets) cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 cup) to the noodles along with the bean sprouts.

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup lime juice, fresh
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional if cooking for kids)
4 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
8 ounces dried rice stick noodles , about 1/8 inch wide (the width of linguine)
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon table salt
12 ounces medium shrimp (31/35 count), peeled and deveined, if desired
3 cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced (1 tablespoon)
6 tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
3 cups bean sprouts (6 ounces)
5 medium scallions , sliced thin on sharp bias
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
lime wedges

1. Cover rice sticks with hot tap water in large bowl; soak until softened, pliable, and limp but not fully tender, about 20 minutes. Drain noodles and set aside. Beat eggs and 1/8 teaspoon salt in small bowl; set aside.

2. Make sauce by combining lime juice, water, fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and 2 tablespoons oil set aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet (preferably nonstick) over high heat until just beginning to smoke, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and sprinkle with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt; cook, tossing occasionally, until shrimp are opaque and browned about the edges, about 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp to plate and set aside.

4. Off heat, add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and swirl to coat; add garlic, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds; add eggs to skillet and stir vigorously with wooden spoon until scrambled and barely moist, about 20 seconds. Add noodles, to eggs; toss with 2 wooden spoons to combine. Pour fish sauce mixture over noodles, increase heat to high, and cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are evenly coated. Scatter 1/4 cup peanuts, bean sprouts, all but 1/4 cup scallions, and cooked shrimp over noodles; continue to cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are tender, about 2 1/2 minutes (if not yet tender add 2 tablespoons water to skillet and continue to cook until tender).

5. Transfer noodles to serving platter, sprinkle with remaining scallions, 2 tablespoons peanuts, and cilantro; serve immediately, passing lime wedges separately.


Ilene said...

I can NOT stand fish sauce so I'm glad you have switched that out. Last year I was eating at our Vietnamese neighbor's house and she made us this yummy noodle dish and I, in an effort to copy her, unknowingly poured fish sauce all over my noodles. UGH. For whatever reason fish flavors literally make me gag. I think the only reason I can eat tuna fish is because it is all shredded and smothered in mayonaisse.

I really wished I liked seafood... but every time I revisit it, I regret it.

nicole said...

Mmmm Thai food! Its a shame you don't like shrimp though. I think I will try this recipe. Hope for me that I can make it work-I've never actually made Thai food-it always seemed a little daunting but this gives me something to try.

Ilene-I think its down right sad you don't like fish. I think I have converted John a little. Tonight we had Ahi Tuna. He likes salmon,shrimp, scallops, crab and some other stuff too- but he is still not converted to all of it(i.e. catfish and a lot of other whitefish- but he did like the Mahi Mahi last week)

colleeeen said...

mmmm, fish sauce. we buy it in huge bottles - it never goes bad. whenever we go out for vietnamese (LOTS of viet restaurants here in south OC), Paul starts jumping up and down and saying "rice with fish sauce! rice with fish sauce!" ahh, he's a good kid.

congrats on tackling pad thai. it's a dish i'll never ever bother cooking at home again. and i made pho last week, with from-scratch beef broth. talk about overrated! another thing i will GLADLY pay $6 to have made for me.

Anonymous said...

MMMM. Someone asked me the other day if I think we'll have food in heaven. I sure hope so. Liz


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