Clay and I got hooked on Thai restaurants when we lived in Portland. It seemed like they were on every street corner, and we often indulged after spending an afternoon hiking or playing at one of the various city parks. There was nothing like a Thai ice tea on the hot summer afternoons, or delicious spicy food on those (more common) rainy, cool days.
Now that we have a house (and more kids) to buy things for we try not to eat out as much. Not to mention the fact that there is really only one or two Thai restaurants in Springfield. Time to face the facts and start learning how to cook.
After a trip to the Seoul Oriental Market in town I finally felt brave enough to make a pioneering effort. The result was that I shocked myself by making some surprisingly appetizing Pad Thai. And so I will share my grand success with all of you. Just in case you have been desperately wanting to try some Thai in your kitchen too.
Without further ado, here is the list of ingredients (that I used):
16 oz. Thai rice noodles, or rice sticks
About 2 cups raw chicken breast, thinly sliced
Some shrimp, if you're into that sort of thing
Marinade for the meat: 2 tsp corn starch dissolved in 6 T. soy sauce
1-2 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 fresh chili peppers *Optional. I put in 4 small peppers since I had roughly doubled everything else in the recipe(s) I was using. It was delicious and great for Clay and I, but too much for the kids. Next time I'll tone it down quite a bit.*
Up to 1/4 cup chicken broth
Pad Thai sauce: 1 1/2 T. tamarind paste dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
*All I could find at the market was a mix for tamarind soup. Don't know how much this differed, maybe next time I'll be able to find the real stuff, but it seemed to work okay - to my untrained taste buds.*
1 tsp cayenne pepper, roughly 6 T. brown sugar * I added a bit more to balance the bitterness of the tamarind* 4 T. fish sauce (or more) *I overlooked this on my shopping list and it is, apparently, the key ingredient for all Thai cooking. Live and learn. I thought it still tasted great without it*
Toppings: sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, peanuts (lightly fried in oil and I will probably crush them next time), and wedges of lime
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Remove from heat. Add noodles and let them soak while you prepare the other ingredients. Mix the pad thai sauce ingredients in a cup. Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour it over the chicken slices (and shrimp) in a bowl. Heat 1-2 T. of oil in a wok (or large frying pan) and saute chili peppers and garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the meat to the pan and keep stirring it until it is cooked through. Add some of the chicken broth as needed, 1 T. at a time, to keep the chicken frying nicely and not sticking to the pan.
Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Add them to the pan and use two wooden spatulas to gently toss everything together, like a salad. Stir fry for one minute then add the bean sprouts and toss and fry for one more minute. You can add a little more oil to the pan if it gets too dry.
Serve in the wok or transfer to nice serving plates. Garnish generously with the cilantro, green onions, peanuts and lime.
Make some Thai ice tea to go with it - tea leaves (or tea mix) are sold at the oriental market. Lots and lots of evaporated milk poured on top is the key. I have never heard that Thai ice tea is healthy - just very, very good. We tried to keep the layers from mixing - like how they serve it in the restaurant - by pouring the milk over the back of a spoon held directly above the ice cubes. But it didn't work very well. Maybe the tea was still too hot and it would work better if I cooled it in the refrigerator first. I'll work on that.
Here is the finished product:
The kids were starving so I didn't get the chance for a nice photo of the original finished product. This is after we all heaped our plates very full and chowed down. Still looks good though, eh?