It’s been awhile, but I’ve been so busy with work and home and life and traveling that cooking has been a bit of an afterthought (it happens to the best of us). Fava to the rescue and with her help, I’m sharing with you some easy and tasty Thai favorites before I hunker down with Mexico.
You may recall that I did spend some time cooking the foods of Singapore and Thailand, but since this was already months into my culinary tour of Asia, I was kind of over the Asian food by then. As such, my lone Thai dish was a dessert, those fake fried bananas. AND I didn’t even use homemade wrappers for them. For shame. Fava fell in love with Thailand last year upon visiting and was shocked and appalled by the lack of attention paid to her new love and vowed to right my wrongs. She did so by cooking a Thai feast for me and Legume and this week, I’ll be sharing her recipes.
First, Pad Thai (stir-fried noodles, Thai-style). While pad Thai is thought to be the national dish of Thailand, it may not even have Thai origins! According to Gastronomica, it is likely that some early version of the dish came to Thailand with settlers crossing from southern China, who brought their own recipe for fried rice noodles as well as the very Chinese method of cooking— stir-frying. Whatever its origins, pad Thai has evolved over time to include ingredients that are quintessentially Thai. Perfected by street vendors, this is the original Thai fast food.
What makes pad Thai so unique and, frankly, wonderful, is that it is really comprises the entire spectrum of flavors and textures: Salty, sweet, sour, spicy, crunchy, chewy and soft. Doesn’t get more balanced than that.
- 4 ounces dried rice sticks, 3 mm wide
- 3 TB dark brown sugar
- 2 TB tamarind pulp
- 2 TB fish sauce
- 4 TB vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 1" long matchsticks
- 8 ounces large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 eggs
- 6 green onions, cut into 1" long strips
- 4 ounces mung bean sprouts
- granulated sugar
- fish sauce
- crushed peanuts
- red chili powder
- Immerse the noodles in room-temp water to cover, 30-40 minutes until soft enough to wind around your finger without breaking. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, tamarind and fish sauce. Set aside.
- Heat 2 TB oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the drained noodles and stir until coated in oil and they become more pliable, but not yet cooked through. Add the prepared sauce and stir-fry one minute to coat.
- Push the noodles to one side of the pan and to the other, add the remaining oil. Add the garlic and tofu, and stir fry 1 minute. Add the shrimp to the garlic side and stir until they're half cooked, about 1 minute.
- Stir the noodle side with the shrimp side and make a well in the center of the pan. Crack the two eggs into the well, and scramble and shred them with the tip of the spatula until the egg bits are cooked through, about 1 minute. By this time, all the moisture should have evaporated and everything else should be completely cooked. If all the moisture has evaporated and the noodles are still under cooked, add a bit more water as needed.
- Once everything is ready, remove pan from the heat. Fold in the chives and half of the bean sprouts and let the residual heat wilt them.
- Serve with remaining bean sprouts and the table condiments. Season as desired.