Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Noodle--Phad Thai and Other Favorites

I know that my Thai food is not 100% authentic. I've read about such Phad Thai on the SheSimmers blog (http://www.shesimmers.com/), which is really a fantastic source for all things Thai. It's even indexed. That said, real true street Phad Thai involves fairly complex orchestration, which is something that is a bit beyond me. This recipe will be fairly satisfactory if your experience, like mine, is derived from good Thai restaurants in North America rather than the genuine article found on the streets of Bangkok. If you find yourself in the latter camp, well, go to SheSimmers and figure out the orchestration. I'm sure it will be fabulous.

The measurements for fish sauce, sugar, lime (real Thai cooks use tamarind--perhaps I will too someday when I am no longer the mother of three small ones--I have recently acquired a refined tamarind concentrate but have yet to try it--more on this later), and spice should be tweeked to suit your liking. I like a fairly strong fish sauce presence. Reduce the amount slightly if you dislike fish. But do use fish sauce. It is critical to obtaining that Thai flavor you want.

Phad Thai
3 limes, juiced
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
½-2 tsp curry paste (I like red or massaman curry pastes for Phad Thai)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8-10 oz thin rice stick noodles (flat, not thread noodles)
1 pound prawns OR beef sirloin OR chicken OR 8 oz extra firm tofu, sliced thin
1 Tbsp white sugar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 eggs, beaten lightly with a bit of salt
1 medium shallot or onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, pressed
2 Tbsp dried shrimp, minced (worth visiting your favorite Asian grocery to find, these are also sometimes available in the Mexican spice section of the grocery store)

Garnish options:
1 handful dry-roasted peanuts, chopped coarse
1 cucumber, peeled and julienned OR 1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped coarse
Lime wedges

Cover the noodles with lukewarm water and set aside for 20-30 minutes or until pliable. Combine lime juice, fish sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, curry paste, and 1 Tbsp oil and set aside.  Combine beef or chicken, soy sauce, and sugar and marinate at least 10 minutes. Drain noodles and set aside.

Heat wok or large frying pan over high heat and add 1 Tbsp oil to pan. Add steak, chicken, or tempeh in batches so that the pieces do not touch one another.  Cook without stirring for approximately one minute.  Turn the protein and cook other side for around 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Turn down heat to medium-low. Remove pan from heat and add another Tbsp of oil and the shallots and garlic. Stir fry until shallots become translucent and very fragrant but do not allow the garlic to burn. Add eggs to pan and stir fry until the eggs are barely set. Remove the eggs to the plate with the protein.

Increase the temperature to medium-high. Add the noodles, the lime sauce, and the dried shrimp, and toss to coat evenly. Kitchen tongs are a really helpful tool for tossing noodles. Spread the noodles evenly across the pan to allow them to absorb the lime sauce, tossing frequently, until the noodles are soft. Return the meat and eggs to the pan and toss to combine. Top with garnishes and serve immediately with a wedge of lime.

VEGAN AND GLUTEN-FREE: This is a great option for individuals who are following a vegan or gluten-free diet. Simply omit the dried shrimp, substitute vegetarian fish sauce (available in Asian markets or on the internet) for the regular fish sauce, and use tofu for the protein.

Cucumber Pickle
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2-3 Tbsp finely chopped onion or shallot
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large OR 2 medium cucumbers, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick

Combine the water, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring these to a simmer. Simmer for three minutes to allow the mixture to thicken slightly. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour the sugar syrup over all. Cool and serve with Phad Thai. This is probably not an authentic pairing, but it is very tasty.

Sticky Rice
2-3 cups (I always make extra) Thai glutinous (long grain sticky) rice

Cover the rice with water in a bowl and allow it to sit overnight or at least 8 hours. Place water in the bottom of your multi pot and place the steamer insert over this. Line the steamer with a flour sack or muslin dish cloth. Drain the rice and pour the rice into the steaming basket. Cover with the lid and the cloth (make sure the cloth is well away from the burner). Bring to simmer and steam the rice for 1/2-hour or until tender. Serve with peanut sauce. The cool thing about this rice is that you can actually form it into little balls with your fingers.

Thai Peanut Sauce

3/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons fish sauce 

Place coconut milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat.  Whisk in curry paste and cook until red oil separates and rises.  Add lime juice, sugar, peanut butter, and fish sauce and stir until smooth.

Oranges in Rosewater
1 organic orange/person, membrane removed and sectioned
1/2 tsp orange zest/person
1/4 tsp rosewater/person
1 tsp sugar/person

Combine all ingredients and allow to mascerate prior to serving with shortbread cookies.

I am still working on my shortbread and curry recipes.

© Katherine C. Otterstrom, July 2012

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