Mmmm...who doesn't like Pad Thai ?
There are as many recipes for pad Thai as there are cooks in Thailand. I was surprised to learn that it is not the heralded exotic dish that we Americans think it is (..."signature dish of Thailand"), but more likely something you'll find at a casual meal or off a noodle cart. lol It's easy, it's nutritious and it looks real pretty on a plate. It's also easy for me to make with items that I keep in my pantry.
You can get really strict about the ingredients (tamarind sauce, fish sauce...) or you can play it by ear. Lite Soy sauce or tamari in place of fish sauce. Rice vinegar and brown sugar in place of tamarind sauce. I always keep bean sprouts in my cupboard for making egg foo young when my chickens are laying lots of eggs. I almost always have rice noodles in there too...just because I do.
Here's how I made the pad Thai tonight :
Bring a pan of water to almost boiling and put the dried rice noodles in and turn off the heat. Set aside and allow the noodles to soften. When they are soft, drain and rinse in cold water.
I like to make my own ginger peanut sauce for this dish. It's really easy--all natural peanut butter (yes, the kind you have to stir), brown sugar, powdered ginger, garlic powder and a little hot pepper. I add a little soy sauce too and put it all in a pan over low heat. You'll want to add water and stir until it's a medium consistency. Play with this recipe and find a way to make it your own. I usually add crushed peanuts to it. Sometimes I throw in a splash of rice vinegar. Stir and taste. Stir and taste. It will look something like this:
You can use a variety of vegetables in this dish. Put some sesame oil (or any oil) in the bottom of your wok (or big skillet) and stir fry :
Thinly sliced onions
Thinly sliced cabbage
red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
leftover chicken, shredded
tofu, pressed and cut into 1/4 inch slices
a little cilantro, if you like it (I do!)
canned or fresh bean sprouts (I put about 2/3 of the can in the pad Thai and save the rest to put in the spring rolls)
When these vegetables are crisp tender, add the noodles and a dollop or two of that peanut sauce you made. Also add some unsalted peanuts to the mix, just for fun. Push the vegetables to the side and break in 2 or 3 eggs in the space by themselves. Scramble them up and once they're set , mix them into the noodles. Taste it. If it needs more, put another dollop of the peanut sauce in there. Garnish it with cilantro (if you're so inclined) or chopped peanuts. It's beautiful.
Tonight I was feeling really ambitious, so I also made spring rolls. Spring rolls are just egg rolls with no meat in them, basically. You can buy egg roll wrappers at almost any grocery store these days. They do take a bit of time, and you want to cook them last because they are best hot. That said, I usually chop the veggies and get that cooked, seasonings and all and then set it aside. Then I start the pad Thai and while the veggies and stuff are cooking, I start putting together the rolls. I make all the rolls and put them on a piece of waxed paper dusted with corn starch (so they don't stick and tear to pieces when I'm trying to put them in the oil.) Don't forget about the pad Thai-- (I know, I know--we're juggling a little here). Finish it up per the above directions and put a lid on it and move it aside.
Basic ingredients for the rolls are thinly sliced onion, thinly sliced cabbage, finely shredded carrots and the rest of those bean sprouts and some chopped red pepper. I put this in a skillet with some sesame oil ( as little oil as you can) and garlic powder, black pepper, soy sauce and powdered ginger (or fresh if you have it--I was out). Cook over medium high heat until the cabbage is slightly tender.
I added a little cilantro too. Why not ? lol
Then roll about a tablespoon or 2 of filling up in an egg roll wrapper. Don't overfill. Roll it up like a burrito, tucking in the sides and edges.
I make a small cup of a slurry of cornstarch and water to use to "glue" the sides and tip of the wrapper after I've rolled it up. You don't want it exploding open in the hot oil. lol
Once you've got them all done, heat a pan of oil (I used canola) deep enough to submerge the spring rolls and let them cook until golden brown. Take them out with tongs and cool on a wire rack over paper towels. The first batch will barely brown, but the batches after that will brown quickly, so keep an eye out.
This picture is a little dark, but you get the idea. Dip them in some of that peanut sauce and voila !! YumYum.
Bon Apetit !