Friday, October 19, 2012

Pad Thai Koong (shrimp)

Here it is…Pad Thai.

I’ve been sitting on the fence thinking whether to post this famous Thai dish “Pad Thai” since the beginning of this blog.  Why?  Because cooking Pad Thai is a lot of works!  And I am little bit of lazy bones lately!    And yet, to make authentic Pad Thai, there are some rules to follow and I’m not so good in following the rules.   But Pad Thai is something that I don’t want to mess with; Pad Thai is a Thai dish that needs some respects!   Nonetheless, here’s I am trying to be a master chef telling you what makes Pad Thai authentic.

And this is my attempt!

Make Pad Thai like Thais do
1. The real Pad Thai has brown color, and not red as for some might try to add ketchup, tomato paste, or chili sauce.  It’s considered a no-no!
2. The real Pad Thai use tamarind pulps and not vinegar in the Pad Thai sauce.  Oh yes, I can tell the different.
3. The real Pad Thai contain these essential ingredients: preserved radishes, dried shrimp, shallots, garlic chives, bean sprouts, tofu, eggs, fish sauce, and palm sugar.
4. The real Pad Thai serves with additional on the side including granulated sugar, dried chili flakes, ground peanut, lime wedge, fresh bean sprouts, and fresh garlic chives……….and a small wedge of fresh cut baby banana blossom!  Well, I was not going to mention it because I don’t like it, and nowadays, they don’t serve baby banana blossom with Pad Thai anymore!  
5. Do not add anything else I did not mention here even though you might think it sounds like “Thai” – such as ginger or Thai Basil.   Noooo….

…You got it?   Awesome!

As for the Pad Thai sauce, I don’t think there is an “exact” recipe for that.  It depends on how “you” like it!    Since the must-have main three ingredients of the sauce include the saltiness from fish sauce, the sweetness from palm sugar, and the sourness from tamarind, the result of the sauce can be prepared as however you preferred.   If you like salty, add more fish sauce; If you like sweet, add more palm sugar; and if you like sour, add more tamarind pulps.  It’s that simple. 
 If you try to find the “balance” of how the sauce should be, I suggest that you use the same equal amount of those three ingredients to make the sauce.  But I doubt that the result would not be as “balance” as you wanted to be since those three have a very unique and distinctive taste of their own.  You just have to play around with it.  I like more tamarind in the sauce.  You know what you like, don’t you?

Now you know why I’m being indecisive to post this since my style of cooking is just to having fun, and not for the exact required rules.  Did I mention that I’m not so good in following the rules?
However, I’m not here trying to tell you episodes of “How-To Pad Thai,” and I wouldn’t want anyone to be intimidated by it.     It might require some simple rules and times to prepare with some of wired ingredients that some of you out there might have never heard of them before, but it worth to try.    Like my dad used to say, “You never know you might like it!”    

Anyway, this is my attempt to tell you about “Pad Thai.”   Now it’s your turn, have fun!

Chive flowers, aren't they cute?
Chive grown in my backyard
Main ingredients for Pad Thai: from the left - beansprouts, preserved radish, dried baby shrimp, cooked shrimp (or your choice of meat),rice noodles, eggs, chives, tofu, shallots, and Pad Thai sauce.

What you need:    for 2-3 servings
6 oz. fresh rice stick noodle (or dried but if you can find it fresh, it’s better)
8 oz. pre-cooked shrimp or chicken, pork, or other seafood
2 large eggs
4 oz. extra firm tofu (I used fried firm tofu), cut into strips 1’ long and not too thin
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots  
2 tbsp small dried shrimp, soaked in water to soften
2 tbsp finely chopped preserved radishes
1/4 cup garlic chives cut into 1 1/2’ long + for serving on the side
1 cup fresh bean sprouts + for serving on the side
1/4 cups Pad Thai sauce (recipe below)
4-5 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

concentrate tamarind paste
I like to grate the palm sugar first so it dissolves easier.

Pad Thai Sauce:
3 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp palm sugar
3 tbsp tamarind pulps concentrate
2 tbsp water
: add all the ingredients into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved and turn a little bit thicken, set aside. Make 1/4 cup.

the finished sauce

As for servings on the side use as little or as much as you like:
Fresh bean sprouts
Garlic chives, washed and cut into 4’ long from the bottom
Granulated sugar
Dried chili pepper flakes
Ground peanuts
Banana blossom (I was not going to mention that!)

How to:

1. Set the large sauté pan or wok or large skillet over the medium-high heat; add 3 tbsp the canola oil
2. When the oil is hot, add shallot, preserved radishes, tofu, and dried shrimp, and quickly toss together to mix well.
3. Immediately add the noodles, followed by the sauce, stir to mix well.  If you feel like the pan become dry and the noodles stick to bottom, you can add 1-2 tbsp water, little by little so the noodles won’t get dry and burn.

 4. Push the noodles to the side of the pan to make room for the eggs.  Add another 2 tbsp of oil and crack the eggs directly to the center of pan and scramble quickly to cook through; add cooked shrimp and stir everything together to mix well.  Again, if you think the pan is too dry, add a little bit of water.  However, be careful about adding water, the noodles should be soft and chewy but not mushy.

5. Turn off the heat and add bean sprouts and chives.  Stir gently to mix well in the noodles.  Done!
Serve immediately with the sides: 1 tsp each sugar, ground peanuts, and chili flakes along with a lime wedge, a handful of fresh bean sprouts and a few chives leaves/stalks.


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