Friday, February 24, 2012

Shrimp Pad Thai


A while back, Justin and I took a Thai cooking class. It was astounding how easy it is to make Thai food! You just need to know the ingredients.

Many of the ingredients aren't all that strange, but a few really threw me off.  Pickled radish? Tamarind juice? Where do I find those?

The answer is at an Asian market. Yes, you need to look outside the boring-ness of Safeway to find what you want. I bought 3 Crabs fish sauce, pickled daikon with chili, a tub of Dragonfly cooking tamarind concentrate, rice stick noodles, jasmine rice, all kinds of tea, lemon grass, skinny eggplant, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, boba, agar-agar dessert mix (like Jell-O), saba bananas...seriously any and all exotic ingredients that you might want for Asian food.

For people around Reno, check out 168 Asian Market on the corner of Virginia and Gentry. They are stocked! They have a sister store, Reno Asian Supermarket 803 W. 5th Street, which is just off of Keystone. I go there pretty often.

To make this, I recommend a wok over really high heat. I have tried a regular frying pan and skillet, and it's just not the same. Sure, they will work for the most part, but the wok is better. We bought a Le Creuset stir fry pan and it's perfect. I love it. You should get one.


Ingredients
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil, divided
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon shallots, minced
7 ounces pad Thai rice stick noodles
1 Tablespoon picked white daikon radish with chili, chopped
1 carton extra firm tofu, diced (if you don't like much tofu, use half)
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
1/4 cup tamarind juice (or 3 Tablespoons Tamarind concentrate + 1 Tablespoon water)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 lb. bean sprouts
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 lb small shrimp, peeled and de-veined
3-4 green garlic chives, or scallions (green onions) if you can't find garlic chives, green part only, chopped
small bunched of cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon ground dried chili pepper (optional)
1-2 limes, sliced into wedges

Method
1. Prepare the rice noodles by soaking them in hot water while you chop your other ingredients. Put peanuts in a plastic bag and pound with the back of a wooden spoon to break into small pieces.


2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and boil until tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3. Prepare your sauce by combining the sugar, fish sauce, and tamarind juice. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Set aside. If you want it *spicy*, add the ground dried chili pepper to this.


4. In a wok or similar large frying pan, heat about 2 Tablespoons of the oil.  When hot, add the garlic and shallots.  Stir frequently and cook until translucent and tender, but not very brown. Add the cooked noodles and toss until combined well.  Remove noodles to your serving bowl for now.



5. Add some more oil to the pan, about 2 Tablespoons.  When hot, add the eggs and  tilt and swirl the wok to make an even egg pancake.  Flip and cook until set. Remove from heat and set aside with the noodles.

6. Return wok to the heat. Add the rest of the oil and when hot, add the shrimp.  Stir fry the shrimp until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the tofu, about half of the bean sprouts and the crushed peanuts to the wok.  Stir until the tofu has been warmed, about 2 minutes.



7. Add the noodles back to the wok.  Toss with the reserved sauce from step 3 and the pickled radish.  Return eggs to the wok and toss again. If you like your garlic chives or green onion slightly cooked, add them now. Make sure everything is warm.


8.  Put noodle mixture into your serving dish.  Garnish with the remainder bean sprouts, scallions, and chopped cilantro (if you are using it) and serve with lime wedges for squeezing. Sriracha (rooster) sauce is also excellent if you like it spicy. I like to squirt a little Sriracha and mix it in on the plate with a good squirt of lime juice. I also give mine a small splash of soy sauce for a little more saltiness.