I still have Thai food on my mind! And what better way to practice my um…skills…picked up at the cooking school by cooking the dishes at home. This time, it was pad thai, a dish that Blai had been pestering me to make ever since I returned from Chiang Mai. The cooking of it is fast and easy but there’s quite a lot of prep work if you’re going to be cooking pad thai for a few people. Make sure you get everything ready beforehand though as you can’t take your eyes off your wok as it cooks.
My first attempt looked a little pale and not flavourful enough but by my third try, I’d found my preferred balance between tamarind water (lots!), sugar and fish sauce. You’ll need to find your own perfect mixture – the amounts I give below are a start. Paleness was cured by the addition of some chili powder! While not exactly restaurant standard (I really need a proper wok to get the smokiness), it did taste like it should! Hooray, another street food conquered!
adapted from the Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School Recipe Book
a small portion of firm tofu (or chicken or pork), chopped into small pieces
2 tbsps preserved radish, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
a handful of dried flat rice noodles, about 80g
1 cup of bean sprouts
1/3 cup tamarind water
1-1/2 tsp sugar, or more to taste
1 tsp Thai fish sauce, or more to taste
small handful of Chinese chives or spring onions, in 1 inch segments
Thai chili powder, to taste
1 tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped
vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
Soak the rice noodles in warm water until they’ve softened slightly but are still relatively hard. In a small bowl, mix together the tamarind water, sugar and fish sauce. Taste this liquid and adjust to taste – I prefer it to be sour first.
Things are now going to move fast so make sure that everything is chopped up and ready to go. In a wok or a pot (I used a pot that gave me lots of space to toss things around), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the tofu (or chicken or pork) and fry until tofu is brown (or meat is cooked) and then push it to one side. Crack in the egg and break the yolk – let the egg set a bit before scrambling it. Push it to the side with the tofu/meat when cooked. Add in the preserved radish and the garlic. Fry until the garlic is fragrant and mix together with the egg and tofu/meat. Push all to the side. Toss in the noodles and all the tamarind water mixture. The tamarind water will start to bubble almost immediately – stir the noodles within the liquid until the noodles are soft and cooked and almost all the liquid has been soaked up. Mix together with the egg and tofu/meat. Thorw in the bean sprouts and the chives/spring onion and toss again, just until the chives have started to wilt. I like the bean sprouts to have some crunch to them. Add the chopped peanuts and Thai chili powder to taste (it adds both heat and some colour) and mix one more time before plating.
Serve with a little wedge of lime and some extra Thai chili powder on the side.