Pad Thai is a hugely popular Thai noodle dish. It's a dish that comes together fast. There isn't even much knife work involved, like for many stir fry dishes. The rice noodles cook in no time. You boil some water then let the noodles steep in the hot water for about 5 minutes.
This recipe is spicy, not sweet. Many restaurants make Pad Thai fairly sweet. This is not that kind of Pad Thai. There is a little bit of sugar for balance but it's not the dominant flavor. This sauce is about fish sauce, chile, lime, and soy. Fish sauce smells quite intimidating - very fishy, as you might imagine, given that it is a fermented fish product. But, that very fishy odor cooks off, leaving just a mild fish flavor that gives so many South East Asian dishes that special something. Don't leave it out. Fish sauce will keep for generations in your fridge so don't worry about buying a bottle. It will be waiting for you the next time you get an urge for Pad Thai.
(serves 4; total cost is $8.90)
7 oz. dried rice noodles, linguine or fettucine width
2 + 1 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
8-10 medium shrimp (about ¼ pound), peeled and deveined
½ pound boneless chicken or pork, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
¼ cup water, to prevent noodles from sticking
3 green onions, coarsely chopped, about ⅓ cup
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
¼ cup coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, about 1 lime
2-4 lime wedges
Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil, add the rice noodles, and remove from heat. Let the noodles steep 5-7 minutes, until al dente, and then drain and rinse well in cold water.
In a large, deep skillet or wock, heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil over medium heat until a bit of garlic sizzles at once. Add the garlic, stir well, and then add the shrimp and chicken. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring now and then, until the shrimp and meat are cooked through.
Add the remaining Tablespoon of oil. Add the egg, and once it is almost set, scramble it and push it aside. Add the noodles fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and chili flakes and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring now and then. Add the water to prevent the noodles from sticking to the pan. Add the green onions and 1 cup of the bean sprouts and cook about 1 minute, stirring once or twice, until the sprouts are shiny and beginning to wilt. Sprinkle the peanuts and lime juice over the noodles and toss to mix everything well. To serve, mound the noodles on a plate, top with the remaining bean sprouts and place the lime wedges to one side.
Adapted from: Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes by Nancie McDermott and Alison Miksch