The day after our visit to the Wat Thai Temple's food court, the Missus asked me to make Pad Thai. The request filled me with a bit of apprehension. You see, first of all, I hadn't made Pad Thai in about 6 years, and have never used the Big Kahuna to make any type of noodles. Also, I must admit, I really don't deal with last minute cooking requests real well.
First of all, I had to find "My" recipe. We used to cook alot more when we lived in Los Angeles, and became obsessed with Pad Thai. Not cooked using any particular recipe, but made to our taste. We must have made at least a dozen versions of these noodles before coming up with something that we enjoyed. Now after all these years, I dug up the crumpled sheet of yellow legal pad paper I wrote the recipe on. What follows, is that recipe, though this version was a bit different, which I'll get into later. And of course a quick trip to 99 Ranch Market was in order.
This time, the Missus wanted Shrimp as the meat for her Pad Thai, so we replaced the Chicken and Dried Shrimp with fresh shrimp. The other item I really feel strange using in Pad Thai is Ketchup, yes, I use Ketchup. I never said it's authentic, it's just the way we like it. Also, we tried to cut out the amount of oil when we originally made Pad Thai, and ended up using low-sodium chicken broth to keep the noodles from sticking to the wok. High heat has made the chicken broth a relic. Amazing what 50,000 BTU's can do! In this case shell and devein 1/3lb shrimp; season with salt and pepper(I added 1 Tb Xiao Sing), and stir fry over high heat:
Also as with any stir-fry, have everything prepped. It's especially important if using high-heat!
Here's my original "crumpled" recipe:
1/2 lb dried rice noodles - soaked in warm water about 20-30 minutes, drained, cut in half.
1/3 cup chicken broth
2-3 TB oil - most Pad Thai recipes use 1/4-1/2 cup of oil - we get away by using chicken broth to avoid sticking
3 cloves garlic minced
1/4 lb chicken sliced thin and seasoned with S&P and marinated in 1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp water for 15 minutes
1/4 lb baked or fried tofu sliced
2 eggs beaten - can use 2whites/1yolk season with S&P
1/4 cups chopped roasted peanuts
1/2 lb bean sprouts
2-3 stalks green onions - green portions cut chinese style, parts of the whites finely sliced
Pad Thai Sauce:
3-4TB Brown sugar or Palm sugar
3TB Tamarind Paste - we use dried tamarind and reconstitute it in boiling water into a paste and strain
3 t finely chopped dried shrimp.
2TB Ketchup – Yes, ketchup
5-6TB Fish Sauce - We use Tiparos - you can adjust. Pad Thai tastes best with Tiparos which has almost a caramel fragrance when used.
1t(or more) Red Pepper - optional
Head oil and saute garlic and white part of green onion until garlic is light brown.
Add some chicken broth to make sure that bottom of wok is covered.
Add chicken and tofu, then add egg, let set about 5 seconds and then stir fry until chicken is cooked
Add juice from 1/2 of the lime
Use broth to keep from sticking as necessary
When chicken is cooked add 1/2 of the bean sprouts, green parts of green onions, and rice noodles and mix
Add sauce and cook for a few minutes until cooked and well mixed - use chicken broth to keep from burning/sticking
Plate Pad Thai, add the rest of bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, place sliced lime wedges around plate. You may also want to garnish with chinese parsley.
The verdict? Well, we've never achieved that bright orange-red color of some of the Pad Thai we've eaten, but it tasted pretty good. In my rush I bought some pretty lousy noodles, but that'll be rectified in future versions.
Whew, I survived Pad Thai! We included some of the Papaya Salad we bought at Wat Thai.