Pad Thai is the perfect epitome of Thai cooking. It is sweet, sour, salty and spicy. It is so delicious and has become ever popular and readily available in most places, even in the ready meals section of the supermarket. Now this is when things go wrong. If food becomes so popular, it becomes commercial and starts to veer away from the essential flavours that it is supposed to have. This is the reason why I'd rather cook pad Thai myself even if I know that I'll never be able to do it as well as the Thais do. At least I know that the end result will be to my liking.
I made pad Thai my way, simplified. Although I do stock up on Asian ingredients, I only buy those that can be used in a lot of dishes to avoid wastage. Preserved turnips and Chinese chives were called for in the original recipe. Since these are ingredients that I never use in my cooking, I decided to do away with it. I used lime juice instead of tamarind concentrate because that is a more accessible ingredient for most people. I didn't use specific recipe but made my own from all the different recipes I've seen and read. I must say that I was pretty satisfied (and full) with the results. It had all the flavours I was looking for and it didn't take long to make. I know I will be making this dish often.
200 gms. of dry flat thin rice sticks
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 (or more if you prefer) of red chilli, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/4 c. demerara sugar
2 1/2 tbsps. of fish sauce
5 tbsps. of cooking oil
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed (1 tbsp.)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 small chicken breast, sliced thinly
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 bunches of spring onions, sliced diagonally, green and white parts separated
1 tsp. light soy sauce
20 medium sized, peeled uncooked prawns
1/2 c. bean sprouts
1/4 c. chopped peanuts
Coriander leaves and lime wedges to serve
Soak the rice sticks in warm water just until softened, but not limp.
Make the pad thai sauce: Saute the chopped onions in 2 tbsps. of cooking oil until it starts to color. Add the chopped garlic and chillies and fry for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the lime juice, sugar and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and cook until syrupy. It must be of pouring consistency.
Heat up a wok until very hot. Add the 3 tbsps. of oil. Add the garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the onions and stir fry for about 3 minutes until translucent.
Put in the chicken and stir fry until it changes colour then add the eggs. Fry while stirring occasionally until the eggs are almost set.
Add the whites of the spring onions and stir before pushing everything to one side of the wok.
Add the noodles to the free side of the wok and pour the sauce and soy sauce over it. Stir the noodles and sauce together.
When it becomes hot and the noodles soften, add the prawns and mix everything, including the chicken mixture, together. Stir fry until the noodles are cooked.
Add the green parts of the spring onions, the bean sprouts and 2 tbsps. of the peanuts. Stir for 2 minutes before turning the heat off.
Transfer to a serving dish before sprinkling with coriander leaves and the rest of the peanuts. Serve with lime wedges and more chilli oil.
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