Friday, 11 December 2015

Pad Thai

As has been the case on other occasions, I ordered a dish at a restaurant, and was so horrified by the results that I felt obliged to rush home and make it properly. I've read recipes where people are admonished that there is no ketchup in Pad Thai, and snickered. Who on earth would do that - beyond perhaps a not very noticeably tablespoon or so - I wondered?

I now wonder no more. I would swear that the so-called Pad Thai from the restaurant in question consisted of noodles in a sauce of ketchup, sugar and chile-garlic sauce, a little third-rate chicken, and nothing else. Oh, some oil in the pan, no doubt. An insult in fact, although I haven't yet decided if the insult was more to me the customer, or to the noble dish of Pad Thai. What a nasty, gummy mess.

I'm always a little surprised that a dish from a tropical country like Thailand is so suited to Canadian winter vegetables, but there you are. It is, and so much the better for us. I have on occasion tried to Ontario-ize this a little more by replacing the lime juice with apple cider vinegar, but while the results are reasonably pleasant, the lime juice is definitely better; or lemon juice will do too. Still, something to keep in mind for emergencies, since most of the other ingredients are pantry staples.

If you don't want tofu you could replace it with similar sized bits of chicken or pork, cooked pretty much as described, or with a couple of eggs, in which case scramble them with a couple teaspoons of the oil, remove them from the pan and continue with the onions and carrots going into the now empty pan, and add the eggs back in with bean sprouts at the end. 

2 to 4 servings
1 hour prep time

Pad Thai

Make the Sauce & Cook the Noodles:
225 grams (1/2 pound) broad rice noodles
1/4 cup apple butter
3 tablespoons fish sauce OR light soy sauce
the juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger

Put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles.

Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

When the water boils, boil the noodles according to the package directions - usually 4 to 8 minutes. Drain and rinse briefly in cold water. Drain well again.

Prepare the Vegetables, Etc. & Finish:
2 cups mung bean sprouts
2 cups finely shredded green or Savoy cabbage
1 medium onion, peeled and slivered
1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
2 stalks celery, trimmed and sliced
8 to 12 button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
150 to 200 grams (1/3 pound) firm tofu
3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

Rinse and drain the bean sprouts. Wash, trim out the tough stem ribs, and shred the cabbage. Peel and liver the onion; peel and julienne the carrot. Wash, trim and slice the celery. Clean and quarter the mushrooms. Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Cook the tofu gently for 6 to 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until it is lightly browned all over. Turn up the heat, add the carrots and onions, and cook for another few minutes until they are softened, stirring frequently. Add the mushrooms - ideally the noodles are going into the boiling water to cook right about now too - and cook and stir for another few minutes. Add the cabbage, the drained noodles, and the mung bean sprouts, cooking and stirring for a minute between each addition. Once the sprouts go in, give the sauce a stir to reblend, and dump it in. Mix it in thoroughly. Once the bean sprouts have mostly wilted down but are still reasonably crispy, you are done. Remove the Pad Thai to a serving dish, and serve it. Sprinkled with a few chopped peanuts, if you are so inclined.

Last year at this time I made Cocoa Cream Roll.

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