Monday, March 10, 2014

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is one of those meals that seems harder than it really is. You'll have to do a bit of culinary juggling, but it isn't bad if you've planned ahead. I think it is one of the most easily accessible foreign dishes, both in terms of flavor and preparation.
The following recipe may not be the most authentic preparation ever, but it's the way I like to make it. This is an easy recipe to adapt to your own taste, so vary the amounts as you please.

What You'll Need:

1 Tbsp Tamarind Paste*
1 1/2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1/4 Cup Peanuts - Ground
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 - 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 Small Onion - Diced
1 Tbsp Hot Pepper - Diced (I don't use a specific type, just whatever I happen to have on hand)
1 Box Rice Noodles
2 Large Eggs - Beaten
Sprouts (Mung Bean are best, but I'll substitute with other types when I can't find good ones at the store)
Lime Wedges

* The tamarind I use is the type that comes as a compressed brick of pulpy paste. You'll need to rehydrate it and strain out the seeds before you use it. If you don't have access to tamarind, then you can use lime juice diluted in a little water. You are looking for enough acidity to balance the sugar and enhance the salty savoriness of the fish sauce.

How to Put it Together:

First start a pot of water boiling for the noodles.

For the sauce you'll need to let your tamarind soak in about 1/2 a cup of water for 5-10 minutes, then strain into a small sauce pot. Add the fish sauce to the tamarind and bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and stir in the sugar. Mix in about 1/2 the ground peanuts. You can skip this step, but I think it gives the sauce a stronger peanut flavor and makes it easier to incorporate the nuts later. Let the sauce simmer gently while you prepare the rest, but remember to stir occasionally.

Next heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a large frying pan or wok. Add the onion and pepper and fry for several minutes until they start to turn clear.

This is the juggling portion of the act. Your water should be boiling as your onions get to the translucent state. Add you rice noodles to the water and boil for 4-5 minutes. Let the onions and peppers brown, but not burn, while the noodles cook.

Once cooked, strain your noodles dump the into the pan. Turn the heat off. Quickly pour in your egg and toss it with the noodles and onions. Now add a handful of sprouts, pour your sauce over the whole lot and toss some more.

Now you can make it pretty. Garnish with more spouts, the remaining peanuts and a lime wedge.

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