I'm really excited about this recipe and the results it produced after only one attempt. Over the years I've tried making a number of my favorite restaurant dishes and have had mixed success. This particular recipe however, produced restaurant-quality results. It's exciting to think that the next time I crave Pad Thai, I will have to debate whether to eat it at a nearby Thai restaurant or make it myself.
Asian noodle dishes, particularly Vietnamese and Thai, have been this mythical creature I can sort of mimic, but can't quite figure out. While the recipes are straight forward, it's the rice noodles that trip me up the most. I've had really poor luck getting noodles to the consistency I've had in restaurants. I think I treat them much like I would egg noodles, which just doesn't work for the rice variety. This recipe I used gives some basic tips for getting your noodles right and I managed to nail it the first time. From start to finish, it took me 40 minutes to prepare. It's a pretty straight forward one pot dish and all things considered, inexpensive to make. While you can swap out tamarind paste for vinegar, if you have access to an Asian market, I'd make the effort to get the paste. The original recipe calls for a banana flower and preserved turnip. I actually did go looking for these items but not surprisingly, couldn't find them in Edmonton, Alberta. I omitted them from my own version of this recipe as a result.
Adapted from: http://www.thaitable.com/
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup peanuts or cashews
- 2 shallots, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 red chilis, minced
- 1 package extra firm tofu, patted dry
- 1 package (454g) Thai rice noodles
- 12 t fish sauce
- 4 T sugar
- 6 T tamarind paste
- 3 cups bean sprouts
- 1 cup chives
- 1 package frozen shrimp, thawed (454g)
- 2 eggs
- 2 limes
To start, soak the noodles in a pot of lukewarm water while you prepare the other ingredients. Make sure the noodles are completely submerged in water. Mince the garlic, chilis and shallots together and set aside. Cut the tofu and chives into matchstick-size pieces and set aside in separate bowls. Mix the sugar, fish sauce and tamarind past in a bowl and set aside. Rinse the bean sprouts and shell the shrimp for later use.
Heat the oil on medium in a wok or large saucepan (I don't have a wok, so I used a large pot). Add the nuts, tossing well to coat with the oil. Once slightly browned, add the shallots, chilis and garlic, sautéing for about 3 minutes. Brown the tofu pieces over the course of 5-10 minutes. Drain and add the noodles tossing well to blend well with all the other ingredients. Test the noodles to ensure they are a soft, but firm consistency. If you prefer them softer at this point, add a little water to the pot. Add the sauce and again, toss well to coat with all the ingredients. Push the noodles to one side of the pot and crack the eggs into the remaining space. Let the eggs fry for about 1 minute and then blend them in with the noodle mixture. Add the shrimp and continue to toss the noodles until the shrimp have lost their translucency. Add two thirds of the sprouts and chives, combining them well with the noodles and set aside for 2 minutes. Serve the dish with lime wedges and top each serving with the remaining fresh chives and sprouts.