Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pad Thai

Sweet and sour, spicy and fresh, few dishes pack a flavor punch like pad thai! The garnishes alone are a symphony of textures and flavor; fresh cilantro and green onion, salty peanuts and crispy bean sprouts, all accented with a squeeze of bright lime; it is easy to see how pad thai is right at the top of my favorites list.  Make no mistake, this is a time consuming recipe to prep, but it comes together in only a few minutes of actual cook time. While traditional pad thai would have the addition of egg and use fish sauce instead of oyster like our version, we have made slight modifications due to dietary restrictions. The dish suffers very little because of these substitutions and has become a huge favorite of ours. The recipe as written here makes 8-10 large servings.


5 Tablespoons tamarind paste
2 ¼ cups water
½ cup oyster sauce
2 ½ Tablespoons rice vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper*
3 Tablespoons sesame/vegetable oil

Re-hydrate tamarind paste by bringing water and tamarind to a boil in a small sauce pan.  Allow to boil for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and steep at least 10 minutes.  Push the pulp and water through a mesh strainer until only the tamarind seeds remain, discard seeds.  In a small mixing bowl combine strained tamarind with all the remaining sauce ingredients, set aside. *Taste the sauce to test for heat, add more cayenne pepper if more spice is desired, hold back on the cayenne if heat-sensitive.


20 oz dried rice noodles (width of linguine)
32 oz medium/large shrimp , cleaned, peeled, deveined
2 Tablespoons sesame/vegetable oil
2 ½ Tablespoons garlic, minced
½ cup shallot (may substitute yellow onion), chopped fine
1 cup peanuts, chopped
6 cups bean sprouts
12 green onions, white and top greens, sliced thin
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, chopped
Lime wedges for serving

  1. Soak noodles in warm tap water, until pliable and limp about 20 minutes. Drain noodles and set aside.
  2. In large skillet heat oil over high, add shrimp and cook just until opaque. Transfer to plate and set aside.
  3. In remaining shrimp liquid/oil in hot skillet, sauté garlic and shallot/onions until cooked through. Add noodles and toss to coat.
  4. Pour sauce mixture over noodles, increase heat to high and toss constantly until noodles are evenly coated and cooked through, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add shrimp to heat through, remove from heat and add green onion and bean sprouts.  Garnish with cilantro and peanuts at table and pass lime wedges.
  6. Serve immediately and invite enough friends to consume the entire batch, pad thai does not reheat well.  

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