Monday, March 3, 2014

Phad Thai, the best recipe for it I know

I am easily satisfied with the very best. – Sir Winston Churchill

Photo: jay galvin, Flickr ccl
This is an old post of mine, stretching back to the early-ish days of 2011. I had only been blogging for a little over two months. It's even before I had a camera to take food shots! But it's so, so very good I had to repost. Because I currently have a craving for it. When you itch, I say scratch. So scratch we shall... with abandon.

Have you ever had a craving at home for Phad Thai, that amazing peanut-y pile of noodles that is such a staple of Thai restaurants? Well look no further for the solution. It’s extremely easy to make, and not too expensive if you have an “international” pantry. Like most Asian cooking, the devil is in the preparation. Prep for what seems like hours, and it’s ready in five minutes.

Tamarind. Photo: BBC World Service
Bangladesh Boat, Flickr ccl
You don’t actually chop for hours, just minutes. Finding the ingredients isn’t that difficult either. So what are you waiting for? I’m posting this recipe as much for me as for you. 

It’s an exceptional recipe for Phad Thai, and I always have trouble locating it because the basis is from a cookbook I don’t often use. In my opinion this recipe outshines most Phad that you get when you dine out, at least in Halifax…

The book in mention is “Hot Foods,” published in 2004 by Select Publications. It doesn’t refer to only spicy food, but any food brought steaming to the table. There’s many good recipes in it. 

I think I might have too many cookbooks. We used to run to Winners on weekends and buy marked-down cookbooks for about the same price as a food magazine. No ads, and far more informative and useful.

I have altered the basic recipe to more closely resemble one in a cookbook that I no longer have. It went away in a break-up, with many other things I valued. But they were only "things," not necessities. Apparently including the person who I told to leave...

My result is quite close to the one in my missing book, using the basics from “Hot Foods.” If you’re familiar with Phad Thai, and you look closely at this recipe you will see there are certain things that make Phad Thai, well, Phad Thai. 

This recipe has the balance “right.” An uncommon ingredient that brings it all together is tamarind. You can find it in blocks, or liquid form, in most grocery stores in the international section. So I tip my hat to the cookbook I do have that was the inspiration for this recipe.

Phad Thai
Prep: 20 min  | Cook: 15 min  | Serves 4
This picture is pretty close. Photo: Manuel W, Flickr ccl
250 g dried flat rice stick noodles
1 tbsp tamarind (either sauce or from a pressed block, finely diced)
1 2" thai red chilli, finely chopped with seeds
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp oil
2 eggs, beaten
150 g (1/3 lb) pork, diced
1/2 lb shrimp
100g (3 1/2 oz) fried tofu puffs, julienned (optional)
1 bunch spring onions, chopped in 1/2” pieces
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup coriander, chopped
lime wedges, to serve

Soak the noodles in warm water for 20 minutes, or until they are al dente. Keep in cool water to avoid sticking.

Combine the tamarind, chilli, garlic, sugar, fish sauce and lime in a bowl. Set aside.

Heat a wok with 1 tbsp of oil and swirl to coat the sides. When hot, add the egg and swirl to coat in a thin layer. Let cook, undisturbed. Roll up in the wok, remove and slice into thin strips.

Hear the remaining oil in the wok. Add the Chilli mixture and fry for 1 minute. Add the pork and fry for 2 minutes. Then add the shrimp and cook until just done. Blend in the peanut butter.

Add in the noodles, egg, tofu, bean sprouts and green onions and toss together until heated through.

Serve immediately with the peanuts, coriander and lime wedges in bowls on the table.


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