Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pad Thai: Valentine's Day Supper

Looking for a special dish to prepare for your Valentine? Pad Thai is a very popular in its' native Thailand, and here in North America. It can be heavenly or it can be awful depending on where you go. I have experienced the incredibly greasy over sauced version on too many occasions. But good Thai does abound in Montreal and can be found at the most humble of Thai restaurants. I do believe that making it yourself is your best bet. It is not a complicated dish, and doesn't require much more than a bit of timing, but once you start cooking you are committed. It is also a great dish for the whole family, because it is that rare Thai dish that is not spicy. For those who need the heat that is where a side of hot chilli sauce comes in.

The following recipe is originally from The Young Thailand Cookbook by Wandee Young and Byron Ayanoglu. The cookbook in question is without photos and is simply presented, but is packed full of great Thai recipes that I have been making for years. This cookbook includes a delicious Thai fried rice recipe. For the Pad Thai in this post I have made numerous adjustments, and although it is hard to skimp on the oil in a Thai recipe, Pad Thai is a little more flexible. I just cannot handle the original 125 ml of vegetable oil, and have brought it down to about 50 ml. It works fine. And since I have proclaimed this the year of the vegetable I have inserted some bok choy into the recipe, and it works well if I do say so myself.

Pad Thai

  • 250 g / 8 oz Thai rice noodle
  • 50 ml / 1/4 cup tamarind paste
  • 50 ml / 1/4 cup warm water
  • 125 g / 4 oz firm tofu, large dice
  • Sufficient quantity vegetable oil (for frying tofu)
  • 5 ml / 1 t garlic, chopped
  • 50 ml / 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 small skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 8 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 45 ml / 3 T fish sauce
  • 30 ml / 2 T sugar
  • 30 ml / 2 T lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 eggs
  • 375 ml / 1 1/2 cups bok choy, sliced fine
  • 2 green onions, chopped fine
  • 125 ml / 1/2 cup fresh mung bean sprouts or regular bean sprouts
  • handful of peanuts, chopped fine
To garnish:
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • Handful or coriander, rinsed
  • 1 lime, sliced in wedges
  • Sufficient quantity hot chilli sauce

In a large bowl cover rice noodles with cold water for a minimum of 1 hour. Combine tamarind paste and warm water in a small bowl, and let soak for 15 minutes.

Sauté the tofu in a little vegetable oil until all sides are crispy and golden. Remove and strain on a paper towel.

Mash the tamarind paste into the water, and strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve by firmly pushing the pulp through with the back of a small spoon. Set the tamarind juice aside, and add the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice.

Heat the 50 ml of vegetable oil in a large wok. When the oil is quite hot add the garlic and sauté until it starts to turn golden (30 seconds or so), then quickly add the chicken and cook for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and tofu and cook for 1 minute more. Create a well in the center of your wok and add the 2 eggs to the well. Let the eggs cook for about a minute without stirring, and then add the drained noodles. Stir fry for 1 minute. Add the tamarind juice mixture and the bok choy, and continue stir frying for another minute or two.

Add the green onions, bean sprouts and peanuts. Blend and then remove from the heat.

Serve with red pepper slices, fresh coriander, wedges of lime and hot chilli sauce.

Other food news:

  • Recently I tried Organic soft ripened goat cheese made by Damafro, and I have to say that it is the best goat cheese I have ever tasted. It had an after taste that I can only describe as distinctly "lamby". I am pretty sure lamby is not a word, but there you have it. I imagine this cheese is not for those who do not enjoy lamb...those few strange individuals.
  • Apparently Canada No. 1 medium grade maple syrup has more of the good stuff like: vitiman B2, calcium, iron and magnesium than the more expensive Canada No. 1 light-grade maple syrup. Also maple syrup substitues may be lower in sugar, but they are higher in sodium and don't compete with the nutrition content of real maple syrup. Yeah! source: Canadian Living Magazine March 2011.

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