Monday, January 21, 2013

Easy Pad Thai

I made this dish as a thank you for a friend who prepared and interpreted my astrological chart. It was a really cool experience to get such an in-depth reading. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes to think about the metaphysical side of things. I'd recommend this Pad Thai recipe new-agers and skeptics alike! 

Homemade Pad Thai
8 ounces chicken, pork, tofu, or a combination, cut into bite-sized strips 
½ pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and rinsed in cold water
*Keep proteins separate to avoid cross contamination!

2 large eggs, whisked
Pinch of salt

2-3 carrots, julienned
1 cup daikon radish, julienned
1 cup large bean sprouts
1 cup nappa cabbage, thinly sliced or chiffonade

Mild cooking oil

½ pound rice noodles

Marinade/Sauce (make in separate bowl)
½ cup rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar or sugar in the raw (optional)
2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 mild chili, sliced on the horizontal into thin rings (use a spicier chili if you prefer)
1 Tablespoon ginger, minced almost to paste
3 cloves of garlic, minced almost to paste
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
3 green onions, sliced into thin rings on the diagonal

cucumber, thinly sliced (English is preferable)
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds (ideally toasted, black look lovely but regular are fine)
cilantro, mint, Thai/sweet basil 
large bean sprouts
roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
lime wedges
1 green onion, sliced into thin rings on the diagonal

Make the marinade, adding each ingredient to the same bowl.  Taste for seasoning and add more sugar and or hoisin if you want it sweeter and more soy sauce if you want it saltier. Set it aside to meld.

Prepare the protein(s) keeping them separate so you can cook each to the proper temp without over/under cooking anything. Toss each protein with a few tablespoons of marinade, enough to coat each piece liberally, and set each in the fridge so they can soak up the flavors. Be sure to reserve about a half cup of the marinade to season the Pad Thai while you’re stir frying it.

Wash your hands well and prepare the carrots and daikon radish. You can julienne them by hand or use a mandolin slicer with a julienne attachment (yay!). You’ll want about a cup of each, but more or less is fine. Thinly slice about a cup of napa cabbage.

In a large frying pan, heat some mild flavored oil and pour in the whisked eggs so they spread out and create a thin omelet. Flip and move to a dish to cool slightly. Roll the omelet up and cut it into ribbons.  

Pad Thai is best hot out of the wok, so get your garnishes ready and table set before you start cooking. The garnishes listed above are all optional but all recommended! I like to keep Sriracha chili sauce on the table to serve with this as well.

Heat a pot of water until boiling then turn off the heat. Add the noodles to the hot water and let soften for 20 minutes or however long the package says they need to become al dente. After the noodles have been softening for about half the time they need, get started on the meats.

Get your wok nice and hot (a little water should sputter like crazy when dashed on the surface). Drizzle in about a teaspoon of mild cooking oil and then add your chicken or pork along with any of the accumulated juices and cook through until slightly caramelized.  Remove to a separate bowl or plate. Cook the shrimp just until they start to curl and turn pink, set them aside with the other meat. If you use tofu, dry out the wok, add a little more oil and let it get very hot so it will sear the tofu when you add it.

Toss in the veggies (carrots, daikon, napa cabbage, sprouts) and sauté them for a minute or two until they begin to soften and are warmed through. Add the drained noodles to the pan with the remaining marinade and toss while also pressing them into the pan to sear them. Once they are well seared. Add back all the protein and egg and toss the mixture together, further searing and combining everything.  

I like to serve this on a big platter topped with fresh green onion, cilantro, mint, Thai basil, raw bean sprouts, rough chopped roasted peanuts, and lime wedges. SO GOOD!!!