I was always a little scared of making Pad Thai – never thought I could duplicate that kind of sweet kind of tart sauce especially with the absence of tamarind paste here on the Island (heck I had a bit of a struggle finding thick rice noodles – I mean come on local grocery store peeps! I can overlook tamarind paste but thick rice noodles? Thank you Fresh Market for coming through on that front).
Really, when it comes down to it, Pad Thai is just a stir fry with rice noodles, eggs, fish sauce, tamarind paste, red pepper flakes, bean sprouts, cabbage, shredded carrots -always something crunchy, also a combo of shrimp and or chicken, or tofu, then garnished with chopped peanuts, coriander and lime. Easy right? Well yes it is. Especially when you watch the calming influence of Mark Bittman in his Minimalist webcast. He whips this up in less than five minutes, with the most difficult thing being the shopping.
But what about the sauce? Well come to find out if you mix lime juice with a little brown sugar you get something pretty similar to tamarind-ish so my fears have been put to bed. I’ve made this two nights in a row! The first time with just chicken (Soph, my daughter, doesn’t like tofu). Then the next time with chicken, shrimp and tofu (Soph had gone back to University - big sd face but still thriled for her).
So here you have it…Pad Thai. One tip from Mark – don’t replace the fish sauce with soy if you do you’ll change a Southeast Asian dish to a Chinese stir fry. Also, Mark’s so right – this is much better and fresher tasting than anything a take out will get you!
1/4-cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 tablespoons lime juice
1-tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 bunch cup chopped green onions, white and light green parts
1 garlic clove, minced
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ large head of Napa cabbage, shredded
5oz fresh mung bean sprouts
1 cup shredded carrots
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, slicked thinly into 1 inch strips
8oz Pad Thai rice stick noodles (the thicker ones)
Peanut oil for frying
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime cut into wedges
Whisk honey, vinegar, red pepper flakes, limejuice and sugar together in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 5 minutes until tender not mushy. Drain and toss with a few tablespoons of peanut oil to prevent from sticking.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium- high heat. Add garlic and green onions. Cook for a minute, add eggs and scramble them until slightly under done. Add cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts continue cooking until cabbage starts to wilt, then add chicken.
When chicken turns opaque add drained noodles and sauce. Toss to coat, continue cooking until chicken is done and noodles are warmed through. Squeeze a little limejuice over Pad Thai, then garnish with peanuts and cilantro. Serve at once.
Adapted from: The Minimalist – Pad Thai, an Easy Stir-Fry by Mark Bittman