Pad Thai

21 May

We live in a small, rural town. By “small” I mean ghost town when university students leave for the summer, and by “rural” I mean I can see llamas in a field from my kitchen window.

Needless to say, there’s not a large selection of ethnic restaurants to choose from.

There is a grand total of two Thai restaurants in this little town. You might be thinking, Hey for a small town, that’s pretty good! Well, it would be good if the food tasted good. (Yes, that is meant to sound snarky and critical.)

We went to one of these Thai restaurants a few months ago and ordered Pad Thai. Everything was fine and dandy except it simply did not taste like Pad Thai. The other, stranger part was that my Pad Thai tasted very different from my husband’s Pad Thai. Mine reminded me of grape jelly. (For those of you not familiar with Pad Thai, it should not taste like grape jelly.)

This recipe will not remind you of any flavor in the jelly family.

Once again, this originates from my brother-in-law. The recipe itself is not too difficult, but everything happens fast and furiously once you start cooking. If you’re fortunate enough to have a helper in the kitchen, now is a nice time to put them to use. One person can stir while the other one pours food. I like this recipe because even though you might not already have all of the ingredients on hand, it doesn’t call for anything too wild like fish sauce or tamarind paste like most other recipes, and yet it still tastes like Pad Thai.

Hint: Prepare and chop all of your ingredients, and put them within arms’ reach of your wok.

Makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients

1/2 package Thai rice sticks (straight noodles 1/2 to 1 cm in width)
2 T. oil
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot
1 lb. chicken tenderloins, uncooked
4 T. rice vinegar
3 T. soy sauce
3 T. sugar
1/2 to 1 T. crushed red pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 egg
1/2 cup fresh chives
1 cup bean sprouts
3 limes, room temperature
1/2 cup cocktail peanuts

Directions

Soak rice sticks in hot water according to package directions. Mince garlic and shallot. Cut raw chicken into thin, bite-sized pieces. In a small bowl, mix together rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and crushed red pepper. In another bowl, beat the egg. Finely chop fresh chives. Rinse and dry the bean sprouts. In another bowl, juice the three limes. Finely chop the peanuts with a food chopper or food processor until well chopped but before pieces start sticking together.

Drain water from rice sticks. Ensure all ingredients are within arms reach. Once the cooking begins, everything happens very quickly. Add oil to a wok or large, deep skillet. Turn the heat up to high. (On my electric wok, I set the temperature to 350 degrees F.) Add the garlic and shallot and stir constantly to avoid burning for about 1 minute. Add chicken to wok and continue stirring quickly and cooking until the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Add drained noodles and vinegar mixture, stirring quickly to incorporate all ingredients. Add beaten egg and continue stirring quickly for about 1 minute until everything is consistent. Add chives and bean sprouts, and continue stirring quickly for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour into a serving dish. Toss with lime juice and stir. Top with chopped peanuts and serve hot.

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3 Responses to “Pad Thai”

  1. Amy May 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Yes! Just the recipe I needed! Can’t wait to try it!
    I love the comment, “This recipe will not remind you of any flavor in the jelly family.” So funny!!

  2. Justin June 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    We like to chop the chives coarsely – into 2-3 inch pieces – to give it a fun ‘restaurant’ look. Throwing in a handful of shredded carrot can also help.

    Another tweak I’ve made recently is to beat and cook the egg in a little oil ahead of time. Then you just dice and throw it in as things are cooking (avoids burning the garlic and shallot). This also makes for a slightly less gooey end result.

    • Adrianne June 21, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

      All good ideas, Justin (and I expect no less). You’ve always been great at the presentation part.

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