not every dish that comes out of our kitchen is a great success.
sometimes there are things that are just meh. those don’t make the blog. sometimes there are epic fails. those do, if they’re funny. sometimes there’s a technique, or a type of food that we just can’t seem to get quite right.
& it’s been awful, because we love it.
slightly sweet, spicy & sour all at the same time & all together in a pasta dish…good pad thai is perfection. but time after time, we’ve been left with a big bowl of hot, wet, flavorless noodles.
there’s nothing terribly difficult about the technique, but i think our first problem was trying to cook the rice noodles like a traditional dried pasta, in a pot of boiling water. not necessary. rice noodles are much more delicate than semolina pasta & all they require is a soak in hot tap water. thanks for the lesson, bobby flay, texture problem solved.
next up? flavor.
we seemed to have the heat & that was about it. up until this recipe, we’ve tried to use tamarind paste substitutes of lime juice & brown sugar, but finally, FINALLY, made a trip to the asian grocery store to get the real thing & that’s when ::ding:: ::ding:: ::ding:: the flavors really came together.
moral of the story? 1) just soak your noodles. 2) buy real tamarind paste, it’s totally worth it.
& i’ll add one more for good measure…prep & chop all the following ingredients before cooking. it comes together quickly!
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
3/4 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
8 oz dried, thin rice noodles
2 large eggs
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled & deveined (it would be really, really good with tofu too)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
6 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped
3 cups, about 6 oz, mung bean sprouts
5 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed
lime wedges, for serving
soak the tamarind in the boiling water for 10 minutes, then push through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of the seeds & rough fibers. it’s a pain in the ass, but well worth it. (or buy this, found at whole foods. soooooo much easier!) add the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne & 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. stir to combine & set aside.
add the rice noodles to a large bowl & cover with hot tap water. soak until soft & pliable, but NOT limp & fluffy, about 20 minutes.
beat the eggs & a pinch of salt together in a small bowl & set aside.
heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining sesame oil in a wok, or large nonstick skillet, over high heat, until smoking. add the shrimp & sprinkle with the remaining salt. toss & stir occasionally, until opaque & slightly browned. transfer to a plate.
remove the pan from the heat, turn the heat down to medium, add the remaining tablespoon of oil & add the garlic & shallot. put back over the heat & cook until lightly browned, stirring constantly. pour in the beaten eggs & stir vigorously, scrambling until barely moist, about 30 seconds. add the rice noodles & toss around with 2 wooden spoons to combine. pour the fish sauce mixture over the noodles.
increase the heat to high & toss noodles until thoroughly coated. toss in the cooked shrimp, peanuts, bean sprouts & green onions. continue to cook & toss until the noodles are tender, about 2-3 minutes more. if the noodles aren’t tender, add water, 2 tablespoons at a time, tossing until they soften up.
transfer to a serving platter, top with cilantro & serve with lime wedges.
adapted from pink parsley