When you have had a rough day and nothing seems to have gone your way, there is something about a bowl of noodles that sets the world right. It could be spaghetti with Bolognese sauce or soul-satisfying chicken noodle soup or cold sesame noodles that does the trick--perhaps it is just the act of slurping that takes the edge off.
One of my favorite noodle dishes is pad Thai. True, it is easier to order it than to make it, but if you had a basic recipe to follow, perhaps the "easier" pendulum might swing your way...
Well, looky here! A basic recipe for pad Thai from Gourmet magazine. Feel free to add shrimp, chicken or beef to this vegetarian recipe.
- 12 ounces dried flat
- rice noodles (1/4 inch wide; also called pad Thai or banh pho)
- 3 tablespoons tamarind paste
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha
- 1 bunch scallions
- 4 large shallots
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) package firm tofu
- 1 1/2 cups peanut or vegetable oil
- 6 large eggs
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- (1/4 pound) 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Soak noodles in a large bowl of warm water until softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain well in a colander and cover with a dampened paper towel.
Meanwhile, make sauce by soaking tamarind paste in boiling water in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Force mixture through a sieve into a bowl, discarding seeds and fibers. Add soy sauce, brown sugar and Sriracha, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
Cut scallions into 2-inch pieces. Halve pale green and white parts lengthwise. Cut shallots crosswise into very thin slices. Rinse tofu, then cut into 1-inch cubes and pat dry.
Heat oil in wok over medium heat until hot, then fry half the shallots over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Carefully strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl. Reserve shallot oil and spread fried shallots on paper towels. (Shallots will crisp as they cool.) Wipe wok clean.
Reheat shallot oil in wok over high heat until hot. Fry tofu in one layer, gently turning occasionally, until golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer tofu to paper towels using a slotted spoon. Pour off frying oil and reserve.
Lightly beat eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat 2 tablespoons shallot oil in wok over high heat until it shimmers. Add eggs and swirl to coat side of wok, then cook, stirring gently with a spatula, until cooked through. Break into chunks with spatula and transfer to a plate.
Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly. Pour in 6 tablespoons shallot oil, then swirl to coat side of wok. Stir-fry scallions, garlic and remaining uncooked shallots until softened, about 1 minute.
Add noodles and stir-fry over medium heat (use two spatulas if necessary) 3 minutes. Add tofu, bean sprouts and 1 1/2 cups sauce and simmer, turning noodles to absorb sauce evenly, until noodles are tender, about 2 minutes.
Stir in additional sauce if desired, then stir in eggs and transfer to a large shallow serving dish. Sprinkle pad Thai with peanuts and fried shallots and serve with lime wedges, cilantro sprigs and Sriracha.
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
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Kysha Harris is the owner of SCHOP! which is available for weekly service or home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Email kysha@iSCHOP.com.