Monday, March 15, 2010

Pad Thai

This is not a specific recipe I found, but just random tips I researched.

- 8-10 oz. (SERVES 3-4), OR 6-7 oz. (SERVES 2) Pad Thai rice noodles
- 1-2 eggs
- 1 cup bean sprouts (optional)
- 2-3 "heads" of baby bok choy chopped into bite-size pieces (optional)
- 2-3 scallions, sliced
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup ground peanuts
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- vegetable/peanut oil
- optional meats/veggies (i.e. sauteed mushrooms, shrimp, chicken, pork, firm tofu, etc). Season Any veggies/meats with soy sauce.

For Pad Thai Sauce:
- 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1-2 ts. chili sauce (or more if you want it spicier)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar

* I buy all of my pad thai ingredients from the Asian supermarket. It's cheaper and much easier to find.

*Note that you will want all of your ingredients cut, measured, ready to go, and very accessible when you start making the pad thai. The key is to work fast so, everything you need should be an arm's length away.

- Soak the noodles in hot water (but not boiling) for 10-15 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. The noodles are ready to stir-fry when they are soft enough to eat, but still firm and a little bit "crunchy". The noodles will finish cooking when they are fried, so don't over-soften them now, or you will end up with soggy Pad Thai.
- While the noodles are soaking, prepare the sauce.
- Mix all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and stir well. Place over medium heat and stir until fully dissolved and the sauce thickens. Take off the heat and taste-test. The sauce should have a balance of spicy, sweet, and sour, but definitely more toward sweet/spicy. If too sour, add a little more sugar. The taste test of the sauce is very important. Set sauce aside once happy with the taste.
- Beat the eggs. Heat a small skillet with oil, and quickly scramble the eggs, and set aside. Note, this step can also be done in your wok before frying the noodles but you might have some egg sticking, so I prefer to do it separately.

- Place your wok over medium-high heat. Add 2-3 tablespoons oil plus the garlic, baby bok choy, some of the scallions, and tofu (if using).
- Stir fry until the bok choy has turned bright green and the garlic and scallions are fragrant. Note that medium-firm tofu may fall apart, so it's a good idea to use extra firm tofu.
- Add more oil to the wok. At this point you can stir fry any meats you might be using. Season them as needed with soy sauce.
- Working quickly, add the drained noodles. Add about 1/3 of the sauce over the noodles and then stir fry everything together for 1 minute. It's important to work quickly. Note, to stir fry noodles without breaking them, use two large wooden spoons (or spatulas) to lift and turn the noodles as you fry them. Rice noodles do tend to stick to the bottom of most woks/pans. Some sticking is fine. Add more oil as needed.
- Add a little more sauce and continue stir frying in the same way for couple more minutes, or until the noodles begin to soften and become sticky. You may want to turn down the heat of the wok to avoid burning the noodles.
- Depending on how many noodles you're using, you may need to add all the remaining sauce, or just a little more to your desired flavor. You'll need to taste-test as you go, adding more sauce as required.
- Add the bean sprouts and egg (if using). Stir-fry to incorporate everything together for 1 more minute.
- Taste to make sure the noodles are done. Noodles are cooked to perfection when they are soft but still chewy. They shouldn't be too soft, but should still have texture to them (like al dente in Italian cooking, except more chewy).
- Remove from heat. Taste for for salt, adding fish sauce or soy sauce if not salty enough. If you happen to over-salt your noodles, you can fix the problem with some lime juice.
- Pad thai should be served immediately. To serve, sprinkle with scallions, cilantro, and ground nuts. Serve immediately with more Thai chili sauce on the side.