July 23, 2011

Pad Thai

Thailand is an amazing country and Thai cuisine is just as amazing and delicious. My first introduction to Thailand was the city of Bangkok, I had been eating Thai food for many years and cooking Thai food, so I was delighted to experience the food in its country of origin. After my first trip to Bangkok, I continued experimenting with Thai cuisine and have learned many things thanks to research and Thai Food by David Thompson, a wonderful book for those interested in Thai cuisine. I especially love the use of fresh ingredients and the particular attention to their intrinsic colors and flavors. I was able to take another trip to Thailand a year ago, and while there my friend and I took a great cooking class in the heart of Bangkok from a lively Thai man who taught us about the use of fresh ingredients, careful preparation and rapid cooking. Pad Thai remains one of my favorite dishes, one I make frequently at home and goes very well with both fresh spring rolls, cucumber watermelon slaw or strawberry mango sticky rice.

Most any style of rice noodle will work. Meat such as shrimp or chicken can easily be used in addition to or instead of tofu.

For Margaret, who arranged the great cooking class for us in Bangkok.

¼ c boiling water

2 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp palm or brown sugar

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp fish sauce or 1 tsp salt

1 tbsp rice vinegar

16 oz rice stick noodles

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 c tofu, cut into ¼-½ inch cubes

1 clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped

1 shallot, finely minced

2 eggs, beaten

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 bunch scallions, cut into 1" pieces

1 c bean sprouts

½ c cilantro, stems removed

½ c ground peanuts

1 lime, cut into wedges

1. In a small bowl combine tamarind paste, tomato paste, sugars, fish sauce and rice vinegar. Whisk in boiling water until sauce is well combined. Set sauce aside.

2. Heat a large pot of water over high heat, bring to a boil and add noodles. Remove from heat and allow noodles to cook off heat until tender, 4-5 minutes. Once noodles are tender, drain and run under cold water to stop cooking process. Set aside and allow noodles to continue draining.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add tofu and fry until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove tofu and set aside.

4. Keeping oil over medium-high heat, add shallot and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add egg, carrot and tofu and stir continuously until egg has cooked, about 30 seconds. Add noodles, gently combine with cooked ingredients and pour sauce over skillet. Gently stir ingredients to heat and combine, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat, add scallions, ¼ c cilantro leaves and bean sprouts and gently toss to combine.

5. Serve immediately. Garnish with ground peanuts, lime wedges and remaining cilantro leaves.

Serves 3-4


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