|"No-Tamarind Paste" Pad Thai|
Pad Thai is without a doubt my favorite when it comes to Thai Cuisine. Always on the table when I am in a Thai restaurant, I can not recall a time when I haven't ordered it. I suppose it was only a matter of time that I would want to eat Pad Thai even at home, so it was such a treat when I found ready-made Pad Thai sauce in my favorite supermarket.
Yes, a Pad Thai sauce mix. So I may be cheating a bit. What stopped me from making the sauce from scratch was tamarind paste. I am from an Asian country, and we do have tamarind trees here. But apart from Sinigang, I do not know any other Filipino dish that uses tamarind, let alone tamarind paste. This explains the utter lack of tamarind paste in our local grocery.
Unfortunately, all of the recipes of authentic Pad Thai online has tamarind paste on its ingredients list. That is, until recently, I discovered a recipe that did not require it. Interestingly, the author of the recipe explains that traditional Pad Thai did not have tamarind at all. Skeptical at first, I decided to give it a go. And I am so glad I did. My Pad Thai tasted a whole lot better than what I used to make using the pre-made mix. Now I can say I can cook real homemade Pad Thai without feeling a wee bit guilty for using a mix.
Easy Pad Thai Noodles Recipe
9 oz./250 g. pad Thai rice noodles
10-12 medium raw shrimp, shells removed
1 boneless chicken breast or 1-2 thighs, chopped up into small pieces
1.5 Tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 fresh red or green chilies (to taste), finely sliced
1 tsp. grated galangal OR ginger
4 green onions, sliced (keep white separate from green)
2-3 cups bean sprouts
1/3 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
2-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil for stir-frying
lime wedges for serving
PAD THAI SAUCE:
1/3 cup good-tasting chicken stock
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar OR white vinegar
1 Tbsp. lime juice
3-4 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. white pepper
Place chopped chicken in a bowl and toss with soy sauce (1.5 Tbsp). Set aside. Combine 'Pad Thai Sauce' ingredients together in a cup, stirring to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dunk in rice noodles and switch off heat. Allow noodles to soak approximately 6 minutes, OR until soft enough to bend easily, but still firm and 'undercooked' by regular standards. Drain and rinse noodles briefly with cold water to keep from sticking. Set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the oil and swirl around, then add the garlic, chili, galangal/ginger, and the white parts of the green onion (reserve green tops for later). Stir-fry 1 minute.
Add marinated chicken and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, continuing to stir-fry until they turn pink and chicken is opaque (2-3 minutes). When pan becomes dry, add 1-2 Tbsp. of the pad Thai sauce - just enough to keep ingredients frying nicely.
Using your spatula or cooking utensil, push ingredients to the side of the pan (if pan is dry, drizzle in a little oil). Crack egg into center and stir-fry quickly to scramble. Then add noodles plus 3-4 Tbsp. of the pad Thai sauce. Using two utensils, lift and turn noodles with other ingredients. Continue in this way, adding more sauce every minute or two, until all has been added and the noodles are chewy-delicious and a little bit sticky (8-10 minutes).
Fold in bean sprouts. Remove from heat and taste-test, adding more fish sauce until desired taste is achieved (I usually end up adding 1 Tbsp). Portion out onto individual plates and add a lime wedge on the side. Top with remaining green onion and a small heap of chopped/ground nuts.