Pad Thai

I have tried making pad thai a couple of different times now. The first time I followed a recipe by Tyler Florence. Every recipe I have ever tried of his has been to die for delicious, so I had some pretty high expectations–but sadly they weren’t met here. I don’t think it’s anything to do with his recipe, but rather how I “followed” it. I substituted a couple of ingredients, including the Tamarind paste for worcestershire sauce– because I just couldn’t seem to find it anywhere!

So then I started doing a little digging- determined to find the ultimate pad thai recipe that I would want to cook again and again, since it’s a dish me and my hubby love! And I came across an authentic Chiang Mai recipe. For those of you who have been following my posts, I mentioned that I studied abroad in Thailand and lived in Chiang Mai for a few months, so I was really excited to try this authentic recipe. Then I saw that it called for… duh duh duh… TAMARIND PASTE, and I decided since every pad thai recipe I have ever read calls for that stuff, it might actually be an important ingredient that I probably shouldn’t substitute out.

So, I thought i’d just learn how to make it. I found this at the supermarket:
Okay, so I didn’t exactly find it… I had to ask someone to find it for me, since I have never actually seen tamarind before in my life! I thought i’d buy one to make a paste with. Oh I feel SO silly! {don’t worry, after starting this Blog, I am very used to that feeling, so it kind of doesn’t phase me anymore}. Every recipe for tamarind paste called for a LOT of tamarind, not just one tiny little pod of it!

So then my husband brought this home for me after work. He works right next door to a small and really over-priced grocery store that sells a lot of Mexican ingredients and foods, so they had a lot of tamarind. Even tamarind candies. That’s just gross.
So I got to de-shelling them with my husband’s help, and put them in a pan with 1 1/2 cups of cider vinegar, 1/2 cup brown sugar and a few red pepper flakes. Just as I researched online.
Then cooked it on low for 15 minutes, until I had created this:
Disturbing I know. But the look of it doesn’t even come CLOSE to the smell of it. If I was pregnant, I would have barfed about five times by now. I made my amazing hubby strain it for me, since he’s a good sport at doing all the jobs I don’t want to do… [or can't physically bring myself to do!] And now I have tamarind paste that’s good in my fridge for up to three months. I don’t know what i’m going to do with it yet… but April 1st is right around the corner!…

Finally, here is my new favorite pad thai recipe, which I can now make without any substitutions:

Ingredients:
10 oz dried flat Thai rice noodles
8-12 raw tiger prawns – with shells removed, or chicken breast
3 shallots – sliced
2 fresh green or red chillies – minced
2 eggs
1 cup fresh beansprouts
¼ cup ground or chopped peanuts (unsalted)
3 spring onions – finely sliced
1 cup fresh coriander, basil or cilantro – roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons peanut, coconut, or vegetable oil for frying

Sauce:
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon tamarind paste mixed with 3 Tablespoons of water
2 teaspoons chillie sauce

Directions:
Soak the rice noodles in a bowl of cold water for 1 hour. Drain when ready to use.
The noodles should still be firm and very chewy.

Mix all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until sugar dissolves then set aside
[After all the work of making Tamarind paste… this is how much I needed!!!!]

Place remaining oil in wok. Over medium-high heat, stir-fry shallots and chillies until fragrant (approx 1 minute)
 Add prawns and fry until pink (approx 1-2 minutes). Or add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes either side until no longer pink in the center
 Clear a space in the middle of the wok, crack eggs into it and stir-fry (like scrambled eggs) until they’re cooked. The eggs will have made the wok a little dry, add a little more oil and spread it around. Add the noodles, as you stir-fry them, drizzle the sauce over a little at a time (for even distribution of the sauce). Lift and turn the noodles very gently (or they will break up) to combine all the ingredients as you stir-fry (approx 1-2 minutes).

The wok should be fairly dry at this point. If you find your noodles are sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a little more oil. Add bean sprouts, mixing well and stir-frying to combine. The noodles are cooked when they are soft, but still chewy in texture. If your noodles are still a little on the “hard” side, stir-fry a little longer over medium heat.

Taste it: If not salty enough, add 1-2 Tablespoons more fish sauce. If too sour, add a little white sugar, if too salty, add more lime juice.

Remove from heat & serve immediately placing the Pad Thai on the plate, sprinkle with spring onions, ground peanuts & coriander/basil/cilantro!
Finally squeeze fresh lime and eat!
I’m not sure how far my home-made tamarind paste went in making this dish awesome… but this was one of the best pad thai’s i’ve ever had! Having said that… after smelling Tamarind for the first time ever today, would I ever make another paste out of it? NO. I need to find an Asian market if I ever want to make this recipe again! I hope you have one close by so you don’t have to go through these lengths!

Enjoy this recipe and your weekend everyone!

<3 Sarah