Pad Thai

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Not an easy start to Thai cuisine, must admit the first attempt produced a mushy, yet delicious and flavorful noodle-stew. Ha.. ha.. Admittedly, the recipe that was printed on the packaged spice mix was totally unreliable and misleading.

A little searching led me to a very helpful site, chez pim, whereupon I learnt to make the spice paste from scratch and more importantly, it had great tips to ensure a perfect outcome. So in essence, here it is:

First the noodles:
Fettucini sized rice noodles should be totally soaked in warm water for about 4-6 hours, I usually cover the bowl with a plate so it steams a bit and stays kinda warm. A 1 kg /32 oz dry pack will do my family of 7 as a main course. The noodles should be al dente, not mushy and 'done'. 

Next comes the spice paste:
Essentially only 4 ingredients:
1-1/2 cup Tamarind for the sour
1-1/2 Palm or brown sugar for the sweet
1/4 cup Red pepper powder or flakes for the spicy and
3/4 cups Fish sauce for the umami / salty
Surely I won't be able to let it go without my go-to guys: onion and garlic, so I add
1/2 cup minced shallots or red onions
1/4 cup minced garlic

1. Sweat the onions and garlic in some oil,
2. Then add the fab 4, and adjust to taste.
3. Simmer on the stove top with low heat for up to an hour. 
The paste should be thick and the flavors should be strong as the noodles will dilute the taste quite a bit.

Usually chicken cuts, shrimp, or tofu for a vegetarian option, about 1 cup per person.
Bean sprouts for some crunch, handful per person
Chinese chives, washed and cut into 5cm lengths
Eggs, 1 per person portion

1. Just cut breast meat in slivers
2. Saute them in a garlic and onion mix, or like me, make a bit more spice paste and cook them in this.
3. When using cooked shrimp, add them later when making the pad thai, when using raw, cook them until just done. 
Some may cook this in the end as well, but I do not prefer juices of seafood on the noodles. Besides, I want to keep it quick when everyone's queueing.
3. Tofu should also be cut length wise and sauteed until firm so it doesn't disintegrate when tossed with the noodles.
4. Bean sprouts should be washed and trimmed (of the dark tails) and kept aside.
5. Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to blend.

Chinese chives, 7-8 cm cuts for garnish
Ground peanuts, to sprinkle on top
Red chili flakes, on the side
Lime slivers, on the side

Mise en place:
Pad thai cooks quickly and needs a constant hand on the stove, so make sure to keep all ingredients within arm's length, keep plates ready as portions come out rather quickly (to the delight of the bystanders who've been kept waiting and salivating!)

1. Wok, or saute pan on stove top, canola oil on the side
and all this around it within easy reach:
2. Pan with spice paste
3. Bowl of noodles, drained
4. Bowl of cooked chicken and/or tofu
5. Bowl with eggs
6. Bowl with bean sprouts and chives

7, 8, 9 & 10. Accompaniments in small bowls in the plating area

Now we are ready to start:
1. Warm the wok or pan, add a drizzle of oil
2. When hot, add a ladle of the sauce, then follow with a handful of noodles. Swirl to coat for about a minute then push aside to the side of the pan
3. Pour in 2-3 tbsp of egg mixture into the middle, wait a bit till set on the bottom, then toss with noodles to coat. A minute here more or less.
4. Now add your chicken/ shrimp, tofu and a bit more sauce to coat that, keep everything moving so as not to overcook the noodles. Another minute here.
5. Then add the bean sprouts and chives, give a final good stirring, 30 seconds and done! We don't want the bean sprouts cooked, just mixed in.
6. With tongs, heap on a plate, 
a. squeeze a bit of lime on top (or a tablespoon of lime juice)
b. sprinkle with peanuts and/or chili flakes
c. place chives on the side with a wedge of lemon.


You Might Also Like