Oh, well isn't this clever...
I'm going to miss this window, but pretty soon I'll be close enough to share my food with many of you! I'M EXCITED!
I love good Pad Thai. I love good Pad Thai ingredients. It's pretty much an amalgamation of MANY of my favorite foods in one convenient bowl. This is probably the fourth or fifth time I have made this specific recipe, with only a few minor changes, and I think it has been my best attempt yet. It isn't the most traditional Pad Thai, no tamarind- that may be the secret to that "authentic" taste and sweetness. When I first tasted the noodles without the toppings I was blown away by the spiciness- even though I knew what to expect. Maybe it was because it was hot from the pan. Don't worry if you're not a huge fan of intense Thai spices, after a few minutes of flavor mingling and once the egg had been added it magically cut the spicy-heat somewhat and made the sauce look downright luscious. The garnishes really bring out the flavor and personality of the of the whole dish.
Coated cast iron is amazing, nothing ever comes out wrong in this pot. I have made this dish in both this dutch oven and the nonstick deep dish frying pan you see below. The frying pan is way easier, but I love the dutch oven so much I just thought it was worth mentioning. Someday maybe I'll invest in a Le Creuset or two, but there is NOTHING wrong with this Lodge brand dutch oven. They even have decent colors. It's too big and heavy to store anywhere conveniently, but it's so attractive that I don't mind it living right on the back burners.
I did find that the outcome needed a little salt, so if you're not a huge fan of spiciness but want some additional flavor, why not try cutting down on the sriracha and adding a teaspoon or so more soy sauce? I think that would work if you're using the fish sauce too, even though it is slightly salty itself . I would NOT recommend having a small taste or taking a whiff of the stuff though. Keep in mind it's pressed fish juice. (EW.)
Pad Thai can be a little tricky, and the timing is definitely a balancing act (try doing it with a DSLR in one hand since your tri-pod mysteriously dissapeared... two years ago). I would highly recomend giving it a shot. It's totally BEAUTIFUL on the plate and it's a satisfying and decently healthy meal.
I also got a good review from some of my most honest critics so I feel pretty confident about this one!
Shrimp Pad Thai
a modified Martha Stewart Recipe
8 oz. rice stick noodles*
1/4 cup tomato based chili sauce- I used Sriracha (YUM)
1/4 cup lime juice- fresh is best but I used realime
3 tablespoons Fish Sauce (or 3 tablespoons of soy sauce & 1 tablespoon anchovy paste)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves minced
1 lb peeled and deveined medium shrimp. I used tail-on
3 cups mung bean sprouts plus more for garnish
8 scallions cut in two inch strips and julienned
1 large egg, lightly beaten**
1/3 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts
Pinch of red pepper flakes... if you're brave
Extra bean sprouts
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (DO NOT skimp on this)
lime wedges- if they're not very juicy just heat them up for 10-15 seconds
*I have also used mai fun rice noodles which are very thin- they worked just fine and can sometimes be a little easier to find than flat pad thai noodles. Annie Chun brand makes an 8 oz package and you can find her stuff at most large chains.
**I think this dish would be great with a little more egg- it would have more bits in it like fried rice. If you try that, let me know how it goes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the noodles. Let the noodles soak for about 3 minutes, they should be soft but still under cooked. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water until they are cool.
In a small bowl whisk together the red chili sauce, fish sauce (or soy sauce & anchovy paste), and brown sugar. In a large non-stick skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook until they are fragrant and beginning to turn white- it should take about 30 seconds once the oil is warm enough. Add the shrimp (drain the juices if there are any in the bag) and toss frequently until they are opaque- about 3 minutes. Don't overcook them, they will have a chance to finish at the end, and overcooked shrimp is chewy and flavorless. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
This is where the dance gets tricky & quick:
Return the skillet to medium high heat, add the two remaining tablespoons of oil. Add the noodles and chili sauce mixture and toss to coat thoroughly- about 1 minute. Add the sprouts, green onions, and shrimp. Pour in the egg and toss quickly to coat. Cook through- tossing constantly, about 2 minutes.
Add the garnishes if desired- and trust me, you desire them.