Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pad Thai

I ran across this recipe ages ago, but I couldn't locate tamarind, so I mentally filed it away for future use. Last summer, I ran across tamarind while browsing through Folie en Vrac on Mont Royal (a wonderful little grocery store!). For some reason, which I will regret, I didn't immediately make this recipe and instead I sat on it for months until a craving for pad thai hit. I didn't measure much at all while making this recipe, so I'm going to give you the proportions Use Real Butter shared. I made this only with shrimp, but you could do chicken or tofu instead ... or all three!

For the chili powder, you can use paprika or Thai chili powder. I used cayenne chili powder.

Pad Thai
(Chez Pim's recipe with a little help from Use Real Butter)
The recipe below makes 6 - 8 servings. I cut down on the main ingredients to only make 2 servings.

vegetable oil (for frying)
4 cloves minced garlic (about 1/2+ clove per serving)
sauce (see below) (about 1/4 cup per serving)
500g rice noodles
6 eggs (1 egg per serving)
450g shrimp, peeled and deveined (4-6 shrimp per serving)
1 cup ground peanuts (1-2 tbsps per serving)
3-4 cups bean sprouts (1/2 cup per serving)
1 cup garlic chives or green onions, chopped (2 tbsps per serving)
more sprouts (garnish)
fresh limes (garnish)

1/2 cup tamarind paste
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp chili powder (to taste)

1. Make the tamarind paste: If you have block tamarind, soak the block in 4 cups of hot water in a large bowl. Mesh the tamarind and water together and let sit until the water cool down enough not to burn your hands. Stick your hands into the bowl and work the tamarind and water together until the consistency is a bit looser than room-temperature ketchup. Add more warm water if needed. Then, strain the mixture to remove the pits and tough membranes from the tamarind pulp. Any extra can be kept in a glass jar in the fridge for quite some time.
2. Soak the noodles: Chez Pim's instructions for soaking the noodles are as follows: "Don’t soak until the noodle is soft enough to eat, or it will turn into mush in the wok. Just do it until it’s pliable and almost edible, like very al dente pasta, then drain well." I found lots of different advice online with some people saying always soak in cold water for an hour or so to others suggesting hot tap water. The box I had suggested 20 minutes with hot tap water. I ended up going with about 10 minutes of soaking in hot tap water based on taste.
3. Make sauce: Over a low flame, heat the tamarind, fish sauce, and brown sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the chili powder a teaspoon at a time to desired spiciness. Adjust levels of tamarind, fish sauce, and sugar to taste. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Turn off the heat (keep sauce warm).
4. Cook the pad thai 1-2 servings at a time. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in wok or large frying pan over high heat.
5. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sauce, and a pinch of garlic.
6. Stir around and add about 2 cups of loosely packed of rice noodles plus 1/4 cup of sauce to the pan and stir vigorously until the noodles soften. If it dries out, you can add some water.
7. Push the noodles to the side and crack an egg into the pan. Let the egg cook for 10 seconds and then toss the noodles and egg together in the pan.
8. Drop 4-6 shrimp, a couple of tablespoons of ground peanuts, a heaping tablespoon of turnip, and 1/2 cup of sprouts into the pan. Stir fry until the shrimp are just cooked (very fast – about a minute).
9. Toss in the green onions or garlic chives and remove from heat.
10. Serve hot with more sprouts, ground peanuts, and lime wedges for garnish.

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