Friday, October 19, 2012

Pad Thai

It is a new and different experience cooking something when you don't know the end result.  I'm not talking about "will this recipe be good" results.  I had never tried Pad Thai or any non-curry Thai dish and would not recognize it other than knowing not to eat it (I have allergy issues).  What is it supposed to look like?  What is it supposed to taste like?  The strangest part was that at the end, I didn't know if it had come out well or not.  Most things you know when they are right.  Does it look like a cookie and taste good?  Success!  Does it look like something you've never seen and taste like nothing you have ever tasted?  Yes, but are those good qualities?

Thankfully my husband, whose birthday the Pad Thai was for, declared it great with a few minor recipe tweaks.  I made it without lime juice so that I could eat it too and was pleased to not be allergic to any of the other ingredients.  I've been avoiding limes for so long that I forgot what they smelled like.  Of course that is one of the best parts, so I've read, so I made sure to have a fresh one on hand so my husband could drench his in lime juice and beam with pleasure. I also learned a trick to enjoying it *almost* the way it should be: smell is very closely related to taste, so I can smell the fresh cut lime wedges and take a bite of Pad Thai, which is darn close to drenching it in lime juice and won't kill me.  Hooray!

The original recipe came from

Pad Thai
Makes 6 servings

16 oz rice noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tablespoon crushed red pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces*
1/4 cup safflower oil (or vegetable or sesame)
4 eggs
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
6 tablespoons white sugar
2 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp paprika
1/2 cup grated carrots and/or bean sprouts
1/4 cup crushed peanuts or cashews (for serving)
2 green onions, chopped (for serving)
1 lime (for serving)

NOTE about the chicken: To use frozen chicken, cook it part-way until it's soft enough to cut to bite-size.  Cut up then use in the recipe as called for.

1. Make Noodles: Follow the instructions on the package of noodles for cooking. Finish cooking noodles before starting on the chicken. Rinse noodles well under cold water to prevent sticking together.

2. Make sauce: Mix together in a small bowl: vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, peanut butter, and paprika.
3. Cook chicken: Heat olive oil in a wok or large heavy skillet. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and chicken; saute chicken until browned. Remove from wok and set aside.
4. Heat safflower oil in wok over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into hot oil, stirring to break the yolks and half-scramble, and cook until firm. Stir in chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Add cooked noodles and sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add carrots and mix for 3 minutes until they are warm; do not over-mix or the noodles break into little pieces.
5. Sprinkle crushed nuts and chopped green onions over the top and serve with a lime wedge.

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