Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is my most favorite dish. I can eat it everyday.
I would rather go to my favorite Thai restaurant and order, but for years I have this desire of really learning how to make it.
The recipe is intimidating, it looks like a lot of work.
But hey, why not try!

Going through different Pad Thai recipes I have read that a common mistake in a Pad Thai recipe is to season while cooking in the wok, since you will be cooking in a super heated wok.
If you follow those recipes that have you measure a tablespoon of fish sauce and one of tamarind and yet another of palm sugar into the hot wok during the cooking, you are doomed to failure.
That only works for professional chefs or for cooks who have been cooking dishes from a wok.
By the time you’re done adding all ingredients, your noodle turns gooey, your protein will be rubbery, and your perfectly innocent Pad Thai becomes a sticky mushy mess!!! 
Something you would not want to eat.
So prepare the sauce, noodles and protein beforehand.

4 ounces dried rice stick noodles
6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 shallot, minced
6 cloves of garlic, minced, divided
1 ½ cups thinly sliced chicken, shrimp
1/2 cup Extra firm Tofu
1 egg
1 cup carrots, match sticks
1 cup Chinese Chives or green onion cut diagonal in ½ inch segments
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup cilantro
2 tbsp toasted peanuts chopped (optional, some have peanut allergies)
Lime wedge
Pad Thai Sauce:
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup palm sugar
1/2 cup tamarind juice concentrate
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground dried Thai chili pepper

Prepare all the other ingredients and have them ready for easy cooking.
For the Noodles - Bring a large pot of water to a boil and remove from heat. Dunk in your rice noodles. Allow noodles to soak while you prepare the other ingredients, about 4-5 minutes. You will be frying the noodles later, so you don't want to over-soften them now. Noodles are ready to be drained when they are soft enough to be eaten, but are still firm and a little "crunchy". NOTE: It is VERY IMPORTANT that you Drain and rinse with cold water, to keep noodles from sticking together. Set aside.
For the Sauce - Heat a small pan on medium low and add fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind concentrate, and garlic. Add 1/2 tsp ground chili pepper. 
Cook sauce until palm sugar has completely dissolve. At this point, you will want to taste the sauce and adjust the flavor balance until it suits you (be careful, the sauce will be hot). Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before storing it in a jar or plastic container.
For the chicken/shrimp - Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or frying pan on high. Add minced garlic and cook raw chicken, tofu or shrimp for 3-4 minutes. Remove chicken/tofu/seafood into a small bowl.
Now you're ready to put everything together!
  • Make sure you have a very hot wok. Add the remaining oil and then add garlic and minced shallots to the hot pan and stir fry for 1 minute stirring the garlic mixture so it will not burn. Add noodles and stir for 1 minute.
  • Add 3-4 tablespoons Pad Thai sauce continually stirring noodle mixture until well coated with sauce.
  • Add cooked chicken/tofu/seafood back and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Move the noodle and meat mixture to one side of the pan and crack an egg on the other side. Scramble the egg with a wooden spoon and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add carrots, green onions, and sprouts and cook for one more minute frying everything together.
  • Test the firmness of the noodle. If the noodle is too firm, fry for an additional minute. If your noodles need more flavor, add another tablespoon of sauce and fry another half minute. 
  • Remove from heat and serve.
  • Garnish with remaining sprouts, carrots, cilantro, a wedge of lime and peanuts (omit if you have peanut allergies).

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