Shrimp Pad Thai
I really should be taking advantage of the fact my one year old is sleeping and do something more productive, like clean my floors, but what fun is that? I would rather make pad thai and blog about it! Have you tried pad thai? Ever tried making it yourself from home? I have, and every single time it turned out horribly! I tried the pre-made sauces that you buy at the store. Tried googling recipes and tried every one I found on Pinterest to no avail. I had decided, short of attending a thai cooking class, I was not ever going to master it. Then one afternoon when talking with a friend about said failed attempts, our conversation sparked an idea. The key to properly prepared pad thai is tamarind, and I knew this, but had no idea how to extract its flavor for the dish. There had to be a way to prepare tamarind for use in pad thai.
Here is what we found….You can buy tamarind paste on amazon, which is quite costly and you have to wait two days for it to come in the mail, or you can go to your local mexican, asian or indian market and buy tamarind pods. They look like dried over sized pea pods. They are also rather inexpensive. The large bag I picked up at the local mexican food market cost me $2.50!
To prepare your tamarind, bring two cups of water to a boil. While waiting for the pot to boil, remove the outer shell of the tamarind pod and any stringy roots that wrap around it. Once shelled, add the tamarind to the pot of boiling water and remove it from the heat source. let sit for about 45 minutes to an hour. Once softened, pour the contents of the pan over a fine mesh strainer. Mash the tamarind with a fork as you strain. Once fully strained, all that should remain in the strainer are the seeds and large chunks of pulp that would not dissolve. Depending on how concentrated you want your tamarind paste, add extra water as needed. I added 1/4 cup water over the remaining scraps in my strainer prior to tossing them out. I store my tamarind paste in clear commercial sauce bottles, labeled with a sharpie. If find it easy to store and dispense when needed without the use of utensils and keeps the sauce safe from contamination. Once prepared, store in the fridge, so it will last longer.
Here is what you will need for the pad thai noodles:
4 oz pad thai rice noodles
1 lime wedge per serving
Bean sprouts optional
Chopped peanuts for garnish
1 Tablespoon oil of choice.
3 Large cooked prawns per serving or several small-medium.
For the sauce:
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1-2 Tablespoons chili garlic paste (by Huy Fong foods)
2 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce (add more instead of garlic paste if you cannot handle spice)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon chunky peanutbutter
1/4 Cup water
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and add your rice noodles. Let sit for 5 minutes to soften. While the noodles rest, prep your sauce by mixing all the ingredients together. Dice your green onions, cilantro and nuts to the desired size, and set aside. Once your noodles are ready, strain off excess water. Now you are ready to heat a wok (a pan with high edges). Once hot, break your eggs over the pan and scramble them. You want to cook them until they are slightly browned on the outside and remove them from the pan. Clean all excess egg and return it to the burner. Add oil and coat the pan to prevent the noodles from sticking. Next add half your pad thai sauce and simmer for a few seconds to combine all the ingredients before adding the noodles. Try not to stir your noodles, and instead flip them like you would a pancake in the wok. This will prevent the noodles from breaking while they cook. You are looking for the sauce to caramelize slightly on the outside of the noodles. Once carmelization begins, add the second half of your sauce and heat until combined. Just before you remove the noodles from the pan, add your cooked eggs and green onions, tossing them around a few times before serving. This will allow the sauce to coat the eggs a bit as well.
Serve up your portion and garnish with cilantro, lime and peanuts. I prefer not to use bean sprouts, but my husband loves them. I simply have to be in the mood. The bean sprouts are also added to the dish post cooking to retain their fresh, crisp taste.
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