Monday, November 5, 2012

Food Court Recipe: Thai Pad Sew with Tofu

What one man can invent, another can discover. – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

I think one of the reasons I love cooking in a wok is because
it's almost one-pot cooking... almost.

My spouse only has Thursdays and Fridays off and works at 6am on Saturday morning. So every Thursday is the evening that we spend together to enjoy each other's company. We usually go out shopping, or window shopping to be closer to the truth.

This last Thursday we went to the Halifax Shopping Centre. I am proud to say I escaped without spending a cent – except for dinner. Our big “night out.” I really do enjoy them.

We bought donairs at Venus Pizza but as we were eating them in the food court we noticed a new (to me, anyway) vendor. It was a Thai place. It looked pretty good. We should have tried it, but too late…

They had all the usual fare complete with pictures, including Pad Thai. There was one photo and name I had never heard before. It was “Pad Sew.” It made me wonder what the difference was. It was obvious from the picture it has broad rice noodles like Pad Thai.

This is firm tofu. It keeps its shape when cut and cooked.
Photo: AsianLifestyleDesign, Flickr ccl
Since I couldn’t try Pad Sew that night I decided to give it a test drive at home. I found a few recipes on the inter-web and cobbled together a recipe. The result is the subject of this post.

Pad Sew goes by many different names. You might know it as Phat Si Io, or Pad See Ew or Pad Si Ew. It’s a popular dish in Lao and Thai restaurants world wide. (The dish has Chinese influences as well.)

The name comes from the word for soy sauce (si-io). Translated it means the dish is “fried in soy sauce.” Chinese broccoli, egg and meat (it can be beef, pork, chicken or shrimp) are cooked together with noodles in a heavily soy-based sauce. 

Tofu is also an option. Since tofu is a cheap protein (1 lb for $2.99) I try to use it once a week or so. I fried my tofu cubes ahead of cooking to to give them a bit of a crust. Doing so gives them a little more substance in vegetarian stir-fry dishes.

When the soy/sugar sauce is added the noodles absorb most of the liquid, giving them a nice beige colour. The whole effect of the sauce is sort of a salty sweet. Very Thai, and very tasty.

This was a nice new recipe to add to my Thai food repertoire. Not too bad from my inspiration being a photo in a mall food court.

Very tasty, with a salty sweet taste – one of the
signature flavours of Thai cuisine.
Pad Sew with Tofu
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 15-20 min  |  Serves 4
8 oz broad rice noodles, cooked
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 lb extra firm tofu, or firm
1/4 cup cornstarch, mixed with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
2 eggs
2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
6 garlic cloves, about 2 tbsp
1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
3-4 cups broccoli florets, cut fairly small
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar + 1 tbsp
2 tbsp fish sauce
1-2 cups bean sprouts
1 bunch of green onions

Prepare the rice noodles by soaking in hot water, or boiling according to the package directions. Keep slightly warm while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Cube the tofu. Place it in a bag with the cornstarch/salt/pepper mixture. Shake well to coat.

Add the 1/4 cup vegetable oil to a wok. When it is hot enough that drops of water dance on the surface add 1/3 of the tofu. Stir fry until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining tofu. 

Mix together the soy, water, brown sugar and fish sauce i a small bowl.

There should still be a little oil left in the wok. If not, add a little more. Whisk the two eggs in a small bowl and pour into the hot wok. Swirl them around to make a sort of pancake. Let the eggs cook until set; then curl up like an omelet and remove. Slice into pieces.

Add the chopped ginger, garlic and chilli flakes to the wok and fry until fragrant. Then add the broccoli and fry until it starts to soften a little. To speed this along you can throw 1/4 cup water into the wok. As it boils away it will help steam the broccoli.

Add the noodles to the pan, along with the fried tofu and egg. Toss well to combine and then add the sauce. 

Let the mixture cook until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed. 

Finally add the bean sprouts and green onions. Toss together until heated through and serve.


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