So you think that Pad Thai has nothing to do with New England, right? What if I told you that my favorite little hole-in-the-wall Thai place to get take out from was located around the corner from my house, which is clearly located within the borders of New England?
A bit of a stretch, you say?
Pfft! Stop being so closed minded, I say!
Now that that is out of the way – a little background. I attempted to make Pad Thai once, a number of years ago. It was terrible. It tasted like a strange fishy sour mess. Really, it was gross. It didn’t have a single redeeming quality. Since that time, I’ve shied away from even attempting it. Call it lazyness. Call it fear. Call it what you will.
Last night, in a spur of the moment decision, that all changed.
I needed a Pad Thai fix & I felt like spending the time in the kitchen. The result, a dish that was actually pretty close to my favorite take out place. The next time I make it, I’ll make a few small changes. More on that later.
After work, I was off to store to get a few of the ingredients that I didn’t already have at the house – namely the fish sauce, tamarind paste & noodles.
- 2 eggs
- 8 teaspoons fish sauce
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 1.5 teaspoon chili powder
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
- bean sprouts
- 1 lime
- 1 minced shallot
- 4 tablespoon sugar*
- 4 tablespoon tamarind paste*
- 1 package Thai rice noodles
- 1 – 1.5 lbs. of Chicken Breast – cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1-1/2 cup green onions
- Roasted peanuts – crushed
Prepare your rice noodles according to the ‘stir fry’ instructions on the package. Typically, it requires little more than soaking them in hot tap water for about 10 minutes.
In a medium sized bowl combine your fish sauce, chili powder, lime juice, sugar & tamarind paste. Mix thoroughly, until most all of the sugar has dissolved. Taste, and make any necessary adjustments. If the fish sauce is a bit over powering, try adding a some more lime and a small amount of tamarind paste to balance it out.
*Note: I went to two different grocery stores and couldn’t find Tamarind paste at either of them. You should have no problem finding it at any Asian or Indian market but I was being lazy and, instead, settled for a can of Tamarind Nectar. If you do this, I’d recommend cutting back on the amount of sugar that you use in the recipe. I didn’t & I think it’s what caused my dish to be a little stickier than some others that I’ve had.
Preheat your wok (or large skillet) on high heat. Get it good and hot before you add the oil. Once it’s hot add your oil and heat it until it’s just about at its smoking point. Add your shallots and sauté them for a minute or two, just to remove some of the rawness. Add the garlic and wait about 30 – 45 seconds before tossing in your chicken. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to the pan. Stir fry these ingredients together until the chicken is almost done.
Push the contents of the wok to the edges and crack your eggs into the center. Once the eggs start to set, begin the scramble them. Once the eggs are just about cooked, give the pan a good toss to mix everything together.
Add a handful of bean sprouts to your wok, followed by your hydrated noodles. It probably goes without saying but make sure that you drain the noodles first!
Add in the sauce and give everything another few tosses to ensure that it’s all mixed well. Let everything cook down until most of the sauce has been absorbed.
Top with crushed peanuts, green onions & garnish with a couple of lime wedges. As you can see from the photo, I totally forgot about the scallions….