Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My my, Pad Thai

L-R: Garlic, Tamarind paste, red cabbage, bean sprouts, green curry paste, rice noodles, extra firm tofu, scallions, stereo, mug of tea
Front row: carrots, peanuts.

This is the cast of characters. The plot goes something like this: Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes to make. Its flavors aren't something I usually dabble with, so when we're eating Pad Thai, it's a welcome departure from what we usually have at home. Also, it's easy, and can provide a welcome vector for the disposal of some vegetable that have been sitting in the fridge for way too long (note the above red cabbage). And even though it's easy, it doesn't sound easy. It sounds exotic and impressive.

It's not, really.

Pad Thai

8 oz. rice noodles

1 tbsp peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp tamarind concentrate*
2 cups plain soy milk
1 tbsp green curry paste*
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp salt
a few shakes of tabasco
1 pkg extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled or cubed
About four cups raw vegetables, which often include: carrots, bean sprouts, cabbage, bell pepper, zucchini, broccoli

For garnish:
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
3 scallions, sliced thinly

First, start bringing 3 quarts of water to a boil. When it's boiling, drop in the noodles, cook for about 3 minutes, drain, and return to its pot. Let it sit, covered, off the heat, until needed.

Take down a big old frying pan. Warm the oil over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the garlic. Saute for about a minute, then add the sugar and tamarind, stirring to dissolve the sugar crystals. Then add the soy milk, curry paste, peanut butter, and salt, tofu, and any vegetables that would benefit from some cooking time. I always save my bean sprouts until the very end. Cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally.

Once your vegetables have reached their desired tenderness (about ten minutes), incorporate the cooked noodles into the pan. I find it's easier to do this forkful by forkful, as opposed to dumping the whole mess in at once. Live and learn. Swish the noodles around so they pick up plenty of sauce and veggies, then serve them in great heaping piles, garnished with scallions and peanuts.

*About ten seconds in the International section of a well-stocked grocery store will turn up the ingredients you need. And once you've got 'em, they'll last you many a Pad Thai.

There. Poof. My cover's blown.

This was the perfect day for such a flavorful, belly-warming meal. As I started the car and turned the heat dial to full, I noticed that the smats of rain hitting the windshield had tiny particles of ice in them. Half snow, half rain. Snain? It's no joke, either. The leaves are barely off the trees, and we're supposed to get three inches tonight.


jenpenpaperhat said...

beat ya, we did have 3 inches of snow on the 28th!

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