Southeast Asia—Thai Stir Fried Noodles (Pad Thai)

 

Thai Entreepad thai

Stir-Fried Noodles
Pad Thai
(Serves 4)

One of the most popular dishes in Thailand, Pad Thai's popularity is moving to the US.


8 oz. rice noodles—“rice stick” (see sidebar) *
4 oz. boneless chicken breast
4 oz. firm tofu (1" cubes)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
8 medium shrimp (shelled and deveined)
2 eggs
1 C bean sprouts
6 T peanuts (unsalted, roasted)
2 scallions (green part, chopped)
fresh cilantro (chopped)
2 limes (quartered)
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Tamarind Sauce
4 T warm water
4 T tamarind paste (see sidebar)
4 T palm sugar (or use 2 T brown sugar)
4 T shrimp sauce (see sidebar)
1/2 tsp. chili powder (or more, to taste)

This dish cooks quickly, so make sure everything is prepared ahead of time. You don’t want the Pad Thai to overcook while you make the sauce or chop nuts.

Tamarind sauce: in a saucepan combine tamarind paste with 1/4 C warm water. Add sugar and shrimp paste. Heat to melt and blend the ingredients. Begin adding chili pepper powder. Add 1/2 tsp. chili powder (or more according to your taste). Set the sauce aside.

Prep: soak noodles in warm water 40-60 min. till malleable but not too tender. Drain well.

Slice chicken into 1/4" strips. Slice tofu into 3/4" cubes. Finely chop peanuts with the blade of a knife (or blender), but be careful not to make too a fine powder or a paste.

Stir-Fry: Heat oil in wok or large skillet till almost smoking. Add chicken and stir-fry quickly for 1 minute. Add tofu and garlic, stirring for 2 more minutes. Add tamarind sauce, bit at a time, stirring and blending ingredients.

Next add shrimp, stirring 1 minute. Keep adding sauce. Move everything over to side and add eggs, letting them cook for 30 seconds; then toss eggs together with mixture.

Add drained noodles to skillet or wok. Add more sauce, stirring to blend. Add sprouts, 1/2 the peanuts, stirring all the time. If it’s too dry, add more sauce, oil, or even a bit of water. Cook till noodles are slightly al dente.

Serve: turn Pad Thai into a serving dish, top with remaining peanuts, scallions, cilantro, and lime quarters. Serve immediately.

* Thin rice noodles make it difficult to cook this in large batches. So for more than four people, don't double the recipe—instead, cook two separate batches.

| See more SE Asian recipes |

 

Tips & Glossary

Southeast Asian cuisine seeks a balance of hot, sour, sweet, and salty—all in a single dish. Adjust to suit your taste perferences.

Many of the ingredients below are unfamiliar to Westerners, but you can find most in any local Asian market.

Fish Sauce: a liquid made of fermented anchovies and bottled (like soy sauce).

Galanga: a root related to ginger though with deeper tones of citrus and pine. Tough to slice...use a sharp knife. (If galanga is not to be found, use ginger root.)

Lemon Grass: tall, stalky, critus-flavored grass. Prior to cooking, pound or crush gently to release flavor.

Rice Sticks: aka rice noodles or vermicelli; thin dried noodles from rice flour. Soak before using, about 1 hour, or less, (depending on how soft or chewy you like your noodles.)

Shrimp Paste: fermented, ground shrimp. It carries a pungent aroma but is essential in cooking.

Taffir Lime: a lime bush native to the region. The leaves and pebbly rind (as zest) are used for flavoring, but not the juice. The leaves can be bought dried.

Tamarind: tropical tree grown in Africa and Asia; its fruit pulp is used as souring agent. It’s also found in Worcestershire sauce and some ketchup.

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