In my favorite food column, Mark Bittman's "The Minimalist," posted every Wednesday in the New York Times, there was a recipe recently for Pad Thai. This is one I've tried numerous recipes for. The premade, boxed Thai dinners with sauce are boring. Other recipes tasted inauthentic. But this one, finally, approximates what it's like to eat pad thai at a Thai restaurant. I altered it to be heavier on the noodles and lighter on the cabbage. I could not find bean sprouts at Whole Foods or Publix, so I skipped those - didn't feel like driving downtown to the Asian market. Could do this with or without shrimp - I used a mix of both shrimp and tofu.
7 ounces rice stick fettucine-width noodles (can find in Asian section of most supermarkets)
2 Tablespoons tamarind paste (this stuff keeps forever, buy it cheap at Asian markets)
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla-- also keeps forever & available at Asian markets)
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded
1 cup bean sprouts (I skipped these
1/2 pound peeled shrimp, pressed tofu or a combination
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, quartered.
In a small saucepan, mix tamarind paste, fish sauce, honey, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Heat on low until it simmers, turn off.
Put noodles in a big bowl and cover with boiling water. Check every five minutes, stirring occasionally, testing after 10 minutes to see if they are soft. Keep checking every five minutes until ready. When done, drain & drizzle with a tablespoon of peanut or canola oil.
While noodles are soaking, in a wok or big saute pan on medium heat, add a generous slug of neutral oil - canola or peanut oil, if you have it. Add scallions and garlic, saute one minute. Add eggs, scrambling, when they begin to set, add shredded cabbage. Stir and fry several minutes until cabbage begins to wilt. Add shrimp and tofu. When shrimp turns pink and tofu begins to brown, add noodles to wok along with the sauce. Top with peanuts & cilantro, squeeze lime over all.