Sunday, January 10, 2010
I used to eat Pad Thai so often.
A girlfriend of mine and I had a 'date' every Monday night, we called in our order to Lotus Royal Thai, week after week, exactly the same: Deux pad thai au poulet, merci!
One brought it home as the other prepared the plates, and we ate until we burst.
Little rituals like this bring you closer (actually, a few people at school thought we were a couple... Two single girls who did not need boys, what else could it be?) and it also creates great food memories.
As I prepared the sauce for the noodles tonight, I tasted obsessively. It was not the same. Then, you put all the pieces together and it is perfect harmony.
There is one foolproof recipe for pad thai and it seems that all follow it. I have not seen many variations - and if you have had authentic pad thai, following these steps will make it taste exactly the same.
Before sharing the recipe, another little story...
I was speaking with a friend who has tried out a French language, open to public cooking school in Gatineau, she had kind words for it. She told me she took a Thai class with this French chef. I was intrigued... They even made Pad Thai she said! What were the ingredients I asked.
Ketchup. Apparently the chef swore that 'The Real Ones' use ketchup too. Oh my.
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup tamarind pulp
1/2 palm sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili flakes
Siracha or sambal to taste (I add about 2 Tbsp, I like it spicy!)
If you bought a bloc of tamarind, you will need to mix it in with hot water - cover the bloc and work it with your fingers. About half the package should give you 1/2 cup pulp once you pass it through a sieve. I don't know about 'ready made" tamarind pulp, I have never tried it in my food - I have tasted it once mixed in with an hors-d'oeuvre for a cocktail and it was NOT good.
Combine all the above ingredients in a saucepan, add enough water so that it is just slightly thick. Set aside.
1/2 package rice noodles
Shrimp, deveined ( I put in 4 per person)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 green onions, cut on the bias
2 cubes fried tofu (you can use regular firm tofu, I am a sucker for this one), cubed
2 large handfulls of bean sprouts
Chopped roasted peanuts
Lime cut in wedges
Extra siracha or sambal
Soak the noodles until almost soft. Have all other ingredients close by and ready to go, you need to act quickly!
Heat a very large pan (mine is soooo big it does not fit in out sink, it is a pain to wash) or wok. Add 3-4 Tbsp vegetable oil. When hot, add the shrimp, sauté for one minute, add tofu, flip a few times until it starts to get crispy. Add garlic, cook for a minute. Add noodles, then sauce. Push to the sides: break the eggs and let cook in the middle for about 20 seconds until they start to change color. Give them a little stir, let it cook a bit more. Add half the peanuts, the bean sprouts, green onion and saute well to mix.
If you are doing this with a large pan, your wrists will hurt from turning and turning it but it is so worth it... By doing this and not stirring, you will get nicely mixed noodles, not a goopy mess of broken strands.
Serve with extra peanuts, squeeze some lime on top to fight the heat!