Monday, April 16, 2012

Pad Thai Noodles

Believe it or not, one of my favorite Pad Thai Noodles can be found in none other than the San Diego Zoo. Yes, you read that right. I did indeed say the San Diego Zoo. By no means was it authentic Thai noodles, but it had just the right amount of peanut-y taste that I knew I could replicate at home without presuming to be a world-class Thai chef. And might I add, it turned out all right. This recipe is simple and flavorful. What more could you ask for?

Pad Thai Noodles
Serves 4

8 ounces dried rice noodles
4 cloves garlic, optional
2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) fish sauce
2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) tamarind concentrate
1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground chili pepper
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, crushed or finely chopped
4 ounces palm sugar
8 ounces meat (shrimp or chicken)
8 ounces firm tofu
8 ounces bean sprouts
2 bunches scallions

Prepare all your ingredients ahead of time. Soak noodles in warm water for 30 mins. Rinse bean sprouts and scallions. Drain and cut 8 oz. of tofu and about 8 stalks of scallions (use green parts) into 1-inch long sticks. Dice garlic and cut lime into quarters. Crush or chop peanuts. Take out 4 eggs.

For the sauce, heat a small pot on medium. Mix tamarind, palm sugar, fish sauce, 1/4 cup of water and chili pepper, to taste depending on spice tolerance. Stir and crush sugar until fully dissolved and turn off heat.

When noodles are soft enough (but still slightly harder than al dente pasta), rinse them in cold water and drain. Make sure all of your ingredients are set up and divided into equal portions. Note: You’re cooking one portion at a time. Add 2 tbsp. oil to a wok or large non-stick pan. Heat on medium-high, until very hot. Add chicken (if using) and cook for 1 min, then add tofu and garlic. Cook for about 45 secs, stirring frequently. Garlic should now be brown. Stir in noodles, then add 3 tbsp. of sauce mixture. Coat noodles and meat well and stir vigorously to keep noodles from sticking. After about 2 mins, taste noodles to check if they’re soft enough. If not, add 2-3 tbsp. of water and continue to cook for a little longer.

Add shrimp (if using) and combine with noodles. Push everything aside creating an empty space in the middle. Crack an egg, wait 15 secs to set, then mix into the noodles. Sprinkle some white pepper, add bean sprouts and up to 1 tbsp. more sauce. Stir everything for 1 min, then add scallions. Turn off heat and toss. To serve, top with crushed peanuts, dried onions and a generous squeeze of lime juice.

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