I read somewhere, either in a magazine, or a book, or maybe even a blog, of a person who judged Thai restaurants by their Pad Thai. Whenever they went to a Thai restaurant they always ordered the Pad Thai and then based on that, decided if it was a good Thai restaurant or not. I am so easily moved by the written word, really, write it down, and I will do it. So, I also began ordering Pad Thai at Thai restaurants. I do not exactly live in the restaurant mecca of the United States, so I’ve only actually done this 3 times. But all 3 times, I did not like the Pad Thai. The delima is that I don’t know if I just don’t like Pad Thai, or if it was not prepared well in these restaurants. Every order of Pad Thai came in a sweetened clump. Really, I could stick a fork in it and pick up the whole congealed mass off of the plate. When I ordered it with shrimp, the shrimp was placed on top, almost like an after thought. In one restaurant the shrimp had obviously been cooked, cooked again, and probably cooked a third time, before being artfully arranged on the sweetened mass of noodles.
While looking through Everyday Food: Great Food Fast, I stopped at the Shrimp Pad Thai recipe. It sounded fresh and clean.
Shrimp Pad Thai
adapted from Great Food Fast
8 ounces rice-stick noodles
1/4 cup tomato-based chile sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (I used juice from 2 limes)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cups bean sprouts (plus more for garnish)
8 scallions, halved lengthwise and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Cook noodles per package directions, drain and rinse under cool water.
In a small bowl, whisk together the chile sauce, lime juice, fish sauce, and brown sugar. In a nonstick skillet or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until just opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok, along with the noodles and chile sauce mixture. Cook, stir frying until combined about a minute or two. Add the bean sprouts, scallions and the shrimp. Pour in the egg; toss until the noodles are coated and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Serve topped with garnishes.
This was really good. The flavors were fresh. I wasn’t to sure about the raw egg going in over all the all ready cooked noodles, so I cooked it a few extra minutes. Next time, I might cook the egg as a separate step, more like you would do for fried rice. The other thing I was not sure about was the tomato-based chile sauce. I had 2 kinds of chile sauce in my fridge, the hot and spicy chile garlic paste and this sweet kind shown below. I used the sweetened kind, which even though it says it’s for chicken, seemed to work really well.
I don’t know how authentic this recipe is. I searched on the net and found some that seem a whole lot more interesting, like this one from Wolfgang Puck and this one from Thai Table. I’ll probably try some of these more complicated recipes, but for an easy weeknight dinner, you can’t beat the one posted above!
This will be my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by The Expatriate’s Kitchen. And, I know, I am showing no creativity when it comes to my herbs, it’s either cilantro or basil, but school is wearing me out, and I’m afraid there is going to be no creativity here until summer vacation!