Hello! In this blog, you will find all things domestic: cooking, baking, sewing, knitting, decorating, etc. I have, of late, found myself participating in all these activities frequently with enjoyment. I feel the urge to share these activities in case there is something I’ve learned from my domestic adventures. Or perhaps this will just be pure entertainment; one never knows!
Jumping right in:
A couple of weeks ago, I felt the urge to challenge myself in a new way and found myself at the nearest Asian market, planning to make Pad Thai for a friend of mine and myself. I made Pad Thai and fresh Spring Rolls for an altogether excellent meal.
Pad Thai is an excellent, classic Thai dish. This recipe I found is actually an easy one (found here), but once it actually gets going it requires constant attention, because things move quickly! Also, be aware that some ingredients (such as tamarind) are difficult to find, and an Asian market of some sort is your best bet.
Spring roll wrappers
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/3 head of green cabbage, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh herbs (use cilantro, basil or mint, your choice)
1/4 cup carrots, grated or julienned
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
Spring Roll Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced and crushed
2 tbsp sugar
Pad Thai (for 2 servings)
Block pliable tamarind
Firm, pressed tofu (or chicken if desired)
1 package rice noodles
1/2 cup ground peanuts
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
Small handful chopped green onion (or garlic chives, if you can find them)
First, find the tamarind. Tamarind paste will work and will actually be much easier than what I had to do, but the local market only had pliable block tamarind, which requires soaking and straining to be used. If you find tamarind paste, skip the next few steps.
First, stare blankly at the block. Then, remove it from the package and put it into a bowl with about 4 cups of hot water.
Let it soak for a couple of minutes. The instructions in the recipe said to “mesh” it with the water, which I think is strange wording. I ended up “massaging” the tamarind block with my hands. You want to mix it with the water until it becomes the consistency of ketchup. The texture and the brown color of the tamarind lead this experience to be actually rather gross, but fun!
Mm. Clumpy brown goop. Once it reaches the desired ketchup-like consistency, you will need to strain it into a new bowl. There are seed pods and twigs in the tamarind block, so this step is VERY important, unless you desire to chomp on a branch during your meal. If you do, well….power to you. I lack a strainer in my recently moved-into kitchen, so I used cheesecloth. A strainer would be easier. Make sure no bits gets into the bowl, and set it aside.
Next, start prepping ingredients for the spring rolls, since they would be the appetizer. I chopped a bowlful of cabbage (you will probably not be able to find anything smaller than a half head of cabbage; in this case, save the rest and use for coleslaw or salad later). I then chopped up a small handful of green onions and grated one carrot (already washed and peeled, of course).
In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, green onions, and carrot with 1/2 cup bean sprouts (easily found at the Asian market), chopped cilantro to desired taste, juice of about half of one lime and 1 tbsp soy sauce. Mix it all together.
Then, get out the spring roll wrappers. I used smaller ones, but any size can be used. First, soften each wrapper for about 10 seconds in a bowl of warm water. Be careful here–too long, and they will be super soft and rip easily, too short, and they won’t easily roll. Pay attention! Take them out of the water, and add a couple of tablespoons (if you’re using the smaller wrappers) of the veggie mix, then carefully pull the ends of the wrappers in and roll. They will stretch a bit, but too much and they will rip. I found a rhythm and it worked well. Also, I’ve included a recipe for sauce for the spring rolls with the spring roll recipe at the end.
Ok, spring rolls are out of the way. Take a bite; munch for energy in making the pad thai. Enjoy!
Start making the Pad Thai sauce. This is important, because it makes it so much easier to mix it at the end of the Pad Thai process. In a small saucepan, mix 1/2 cup each of the tamarind you made earlier, soy sauce or fish sauce, and 1/3 cup of sugar over low heat. Then add chili powder or paprika to taste – be careful, too much is hard to fix, but too little and you can always add more. Let the sauce simmer, and then turn off the heat.
Make sure your other ingredients are ready. If you are using dried rice noodles, make sure to soak them in warm water for about 20-25 minutes beforehand. Don’t oversoak, or it will end up being a goopy mess!
Heat a pan to a high (but not TOO high, or the oil will create a smoky mess and set off the smoke alarm, no that didn’t happen to me…ok, maybe a little) temperature, and then add a few tablespoons of peanut oil. Add a pinch of garlic, and the chicken if you’re making chicken pad thai. I made it with tofu, so I added tofu at this point. Make sure the tofu is firm and has been pressed to remove water, and cut up into small squares.
Cook until tofu is crisp at edges. Add desired amount of noodles for one serving – it’s best to only make one at a time, otherwise, you’re more likely to get a goopy mess. Then add about 1/3 cup of the sauce (just eyeball it) and mix it in. I found tongs worked well for this part. Cook until soft. If the noodles start sticking together, add a little bit of oil, but if you keep them moving, they shouldn’t clump.
Then, add the egg. Just push the noodles aside add the eggs directly into the pan. I liked two eggs per serving, and pre-scrambled them before adding them for simplicity’s sake. Let them sit for half a minute or so (keep watching) and then scramble them till just cooked. Add a sprinkle of ground peanuts, mix, then a handful of chopped green onions and bean sprouts, and turn off the heat and mix them in. Remove to a plate, and garnish with lime wedges and ground peanuts. Wipe down the pan and start on the next serving, making sure to let the oil heat up properly.
And that’s pad thai! YUMMMM. Seriously. A good wine to pair this with would be riesling or gewurztraminer (the sweetness well balances the spice.)