I adore Thai food, don’t you? When we lived in Los Angeles, my husband and I ate practically weekly at a funky little hole in the wall Thai place called Torung Thai. We were introduced to it by some native Angelenos, and we probably managed to take every single person we knew there at least once, if not multiple times. Then we moved to a new apartment, and there was a Thai place on the end of our street. So between those two restaurants we bounced back and forth, depending on what we were in the mood for, since we had our favorites at each spot! Well… it’s not so easy to just pop out to multiple Thai restaurants these days, living a small village in Switzerland… One sometimes has to take matters into their own hands. So when I need my Pad Thai, I gotta get out my wok!
I did a bit of researching and I came across an article suggesting that the tamarind paste, although common, could be replaced. This was excellent news, as I did not happen to have any tamarind paste at the moment, and was mildly fretting over it. If you have tamarind paste handy, go ahead and use that instead of the rice vinegar and lime juice.
Give it a try, and feel free to experiment as well. I always make things a bit different each time, tasting and adding as I please. A recipe is just a suggestion! Always taste, taste, taste!
Quick and Easy Pad Thai
based on a recipe at Thaifood.about.com
250 grams Rice Noodles
Chicken, Tofu or Shrimp
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
4 green onions, sliced
2-3 cups bean sprouts
1/3 cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 fresh lime, sliced into wedges
2 TBSP vegetable oil
PAD THAI SAUCE:
1/3 cup good quality chicken stock (sub veg if vegan)
3 TBSP rice vinegar + 1 TBSP lime juice (or 3/4 TBSP Tamarind paste)
3-4 TBSP brown sugar (see my post on making brown sugar)
2 TBSP fish sauce (vegans: sub recipe from Cook’s Illustrated)
1 TBSP soy sauce (sub Tamari if gluten free)
1/8 TSP white pepper
Pinch of chili powder
First prepare the sauce. Place all sauce ingredients in a small pot over low heat. Stir until sugar is melted. Taste the sauce – you should first get a salty flavor, followed by a mild sourness, then just a gentle sweetness and some heat from the chili. You can always make it more spicy at the table. Adjust as necessary.
Then prepare your noodles. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add rice noodles and switch off heat. Allow noodles to soak approximately 6 minutes, or until soft enough to bend easily, but still firm and ‘al dente.’ They will finish cooking later. Drain and rinse noodles briefly with cold water to keep from sticking. Set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high. Add the oil and swirl around, then add the garlic, galangal/ginger, and half of the green onion. Stir-fry 1 minute to release the fragrance.
Add chicken or tofu or shrimp and stir-fry 3-4 minutes, or until cooked. If pan becomes dry, add 1-2 Tbsp. of the pad Thai sauce.
Push those ingredients aside and crack egg into the center of the pan. Stir quickly to scramble, then combine with other ingredients.
Add the rice noodles plus 3-4 tablespoons of the Pad Thai sauce. Using two utensils, lift and turn noodles to stir-fry and combine with other ingredients.
Continue stir-frying, adding more of the sauce every minute or two, until all sauce has been added and the noodles are chewy and a little bit sticky (8-10 minutes). When sauce has been absorbed and noodles are cooked, add in the bean sprouts (you want them to be raw and crispy).
Remove from heat and taste, adding more fish sauce if needed, until desired saltiness. Serve each portion with a wedge of lime, and top with remaining green onion and a generous sprinkling of chopped nuts. If you like it spicy, serve with some Thai chili sauce.