this was not my first pad thai attempt. the first one involved a valiant effort that even included a visit to the thai grocery store. alas, my endeavors were for naught because the result was less than delicious. really, it wasn't even close to good. enough of that. 2 years later, thanks to an awesome thai cooking class, i was ready to try again.
let's talk about the class for a moment. this is the second class i've taken at the natural gourmet institute and i've been quite pleased, so i feel the need to share. the format of both classes i have taken (both in the ethnic & regional food category-obviously) is to be in a large professional kitchen, get a set of recipes, and be set free with a plethora of sharp knifes, prep bowls and culinary students to help at every turn. the teachers are extremely knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. if this doesn't sound awesome enough, there is a small lecture part: some basic understanding of what you're about to do. then the best part is that you just get to cook. and eat everything you make!
i'm not sure if it was the class, the concise recipe in front of me, or a generally more comfortable rapport with cooking that made my pad thai turn out as well as it did. or it could have been the supportive roomies behind me, cheering me on. nothing like some positive energy to help an outcome. the recipe is pretty straightforward and once you've chopped and prepped everything, the cooking time is minimal. even better, you can practically feel good about eating this because it won't give you that greasy local-thai-joint-feeling. don't get too stressed. the cooking process is fast and furious but i was pretty flexible with my ingredients and everything still went great.
fyi, bittman also made this today although his version is slightly different. (it's like he's in my head!!!)
from jay weinstein and the natural gourmet institute
- 1 lb rice noodles, 1/4-inch wide
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons tamarind puree
- 1/2 cup thai palm sugar light brown (i just used some brown sugar)
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 4 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons chopped dried shrimp
- 1/4 cup finely julienned carrots
- 1 1/2 cups pressed bean curd, cut into small strips
- 2 tablespoons shredded salted radish, rinsed briefly
- 2 cups scallion greens, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 cups bean sprouts
- 1 cup chopped, toasted peanuts
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- set up ingredients: soak the noodles in warm water for 30 minutes then drain well. whisk together the red pepper, fish sauce, tamarind and palm sugar (seasoning). get everything else prepped and lined up in the order they are needed, since the stir-fry process happens so quickly.
- stiry-fry the noodles: heat wok (or large pan) over high hear, add oil and heat until it shimmers. add shallots and cook until they begin to brown. add garlic and cook until golden brown. add more oil, if necessary, and add eggs, spreading them flat. stir in dried shrimp, carrots, bean curd, radish and soaked noodles. coat these ingredients with oil and stir-fry 30 seconds.
- add the seasonings: stir-fry until noodles are tender, adding water as needed. fold in the seasoning sauce, scallions, most of the bean sprouts, and most of the peanuts. cook for 10 seconds to soften bean sprouts. taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- remove from heat and garnish with the additional bean sprouts, peanuts and lime.