Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pad Thai by a White Guy

Didn't know the Thai word for Gaijin. This is my first attempt at a traditional Thai street food. I am fairly familiar with all of the ingredients, so this becomes more of an exploration of technique. I have some work to do. Maybe a new wok to buy as well.

Lots of recipe sites can be found when you Google this dish. I think after a short search that this is the best one I found. Check it out. It is basically the recipe that I follow here.

Chez Pim, Pad Thai for beginners

I started the process by soaking the tamarind paste in hot water.

Now let this soak until it is cool enough to handle with your paws. Start breaking up the paste. I then started using a whisk to smash and mix the concoction.

When you get the consistency of ketchup, strain out any rind or seeds.

Now for the rest of your sauce. Add 1/2 cup of the tamarind sauce, 1/2 cup of fish sauce.

Add 1/4-1/3 cup of sugar. The authentic calls for 1/2 cup of palm sugar but I didn't have any on hand. Finally toss in some chile sauce. I like spicy so I went for about 1/4 cup of this.

Bring this to a low simmer just until everything is mixed and the sugar dissolves.

This is not the best smelling concoction. It is very strong, the tamarind is extremely tart like vinegar. But not to worry. So now start prepping the rest of your ingredients. Cut up the firm tofu into matchstick size pieces.

I wasn't happy with the peanuts at the bulk bins so I went for unsalted cashews. Break these up with the back of your knife.

Begin soaking your rice noodles in warm water. I like the thinner rice noodles. Many people like to use the wider flat noodles. Soak these until they just become pliable. You don't want them to overcook later on in the wok. When ready, toss them into a collander to drain.

How lucky am I to have such a great Asian market? New Sagaya even had the Chinese chives. I think that they are just a version of garlic chives and you can easily substitute green onions here.

So here is my work so far. Usually in wok cooking the bulk of the time is during prep.

So I don't have the right tools to do this correctly from here on out. But I make do. My wok is a cheap nonstick hand me down and I am using a flat top electric stove. Not the best combo but I seem to make it work. Turn the eye on high and wait till the wok is HOT. Then add some oil and it should start smoking almost right away.

Toss in the tofu and let it get some color. Then just a bit of the sauce.

Now the garlic and then the noodles. I suggest making small 1-2 portions per round. If you add too much food to the wok it will lose heat and you end up with boiled noodles. So keep it just a couple portions at a time. And always keep the food in the wok moving. Now about a 1/4 cup of your sauce.

If the sauce cooks out too fast you can always add a bit of water. Now make a well in the bottom.

Side note. I should have put the shrimp in that well but I was following the order that the linked recipe suggested. In the future I will follow my own instincts.

In the well crack an egg and allow to just set up.

Now stir the egg in. Here is where I added the shrimp and had to struggle to get them fully cooked. Now finish with the nuts, bean sprouts, and chives.

I also squeezed in a bit of lime. Serve IMMEDIATELY. Dress with condiments such as bean sprouts, nuts, chives, lime wedges, and chile sauce.

Definitely check out the Chez Pim link. It is a big help to anyone trying this dish. I don't recommend trying to photo blog this your first time out ( like I did ). Things need to move fast and I was barely able to keep up the pace while trying to shoot pictures.

This was a late night munchy meal for me. Talk about hitting the spot. Much cleaner and less oily than Pad Thai from many restaurants. Hell, now I am hungry.

Cheers friends. Be sure to leave your thoughts and if you haven't already dones so, go ahead and subscribe to the blog.


HoneyB said...

Wow, if this is what a late night munchy meal is in Alaska, then I'm heading on up! You had me at tofu...I know, weird, but I love tofu!

TaGa_Luto said...

This is one of my favorite unfortunately haven't cooked this lately. My recipe was given to me by my classmate back then, who's from Thailand. It's actually her Mom's recipe.

Thanks for reminding me of this delicious dish, i should be making this again soon.

tjdabney said...

Hi Robert!

Looks amazing as usual. I got into cooking pad thai for the first time this winter. Don't know about you, but we just don't have thai places around here, and well.. not much of anything. So, if I want something, I have to cook it myself. No delivery either!

I was amazed (besides the prep) how easy it was to make pad thai. I had great results too.

It's just so yummy. I wanted to blog it, but I'm just not dedicated to that craft like you are.

tjdabney said...

oh.. my user name does it make it obvious... but this is Tamara from Vermont...