Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pad Thai

Pat's Pad Thai
(reprinted with her permission)

10 oz. narrow rice noodles
5 shelled prawns
3 eggs
2 tablespoons **white radish pickle, minced
3 bunches chinese leeks or scallions, cut into 1 inch sprigs
1 teaspoon ground, dried chillies
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons **fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon tamarind Juice (tamarind paste, thinned with water)

*White radish pickle is available in most Asian stores. It is commonly a Japanese or Chinese brand that is available. There are two types; sweet and salty. Use the sweet variety for Pad Thai, although if salt is all that is available, soak and rinse them first.

**Fish sauce should be purchased in small bottles so that it is used before it spoils. Good quality fish sauce should be the color of brandy and have a pleasant salty taste, not fishy or bitter. If fish sauce is too dark or black it will be bitter and should not be used.

Pat shows me how to make an excellent Pad Thai, without it being soupy or too sweet. She uses pickled white radish (available at most Asian stores), tamarind juice, fish sauce and sugar to create the contrasting flavors. Also, she says most people are cheap and use too much noodle.

We started out with a hot wok, adding a bit of oil and some garlic and shallots and sweating them just until they began to color. Then, we added thin rice noodles and just enough water to soften them, then fry them, turning constantly to prevent sticking. We removed the noodles from the pan and set them aside. Next, into the hot wok we added diced tofu and allowed it to cook until a crust began to form on it (otherwise it will fall apart). Moving the tofu to the side of the wok, we added the prawns to the center of the wok and allowed them to cook. When barely cooked, we added the pickled white radish, ground, dried chilies, sugar, fish sauce and tamarind juice and allowed that to simmer until the prawns were cooked through, then we added the noodles back in and pushed them to the side. Next, we added the eggs (lightly scrambled) spreading them into a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. When set, we mixed everything together with a scraping motion using the corner of the spatula. At this point you can taste it and add either more fish sauce (for salt) or sugar to your liking. At the very end, we added chopped Chinese leek greens (scallions will do) and garnished the dish with fresh bean sprouts.

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