pad thai

not every dish that comes out of our kitchen is a great success.

oh.  no.

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.

for us, it’s been pad thai.

& 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!


serves 4

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
kosher salt
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

This entry was posted in entrees, pasta & grains, seafood and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to pad thai

  1. Tammy says:

    We also love pad thai. Defintely agree about just soaking the noodles & we’ve learned always double the sauce if you really want flavor serve it with a peanut butter sauce for folks who really like it saucy. Yours looks beautiful & delicious.

  2. The Mister says:

    Add some garlic chili sauce for extra sweaty dinner goodness

Comments are closed.