When I saw rice noodles in the bulk bin section of Central Market, I got some.
Don’t ask me why. Because I’m not exactly sure.
Except that, I’d never actually cooked with rice noodles at home.
It took me a couple of weeks to work up the courage to do something with them. Then it took me another week or so to work up the courage to buy something even scarier: fish sauce.
My fear of fish sauce is stemmed directly from Shelby. Okay, maybe not 100% but her story of the scary fish sauce with floaties made me very nervous so I opted for the most normal and commercial looking fish sauce I could get my hands on. And really, the ingredients aren’t that scary at all, especially since I’ve conquered my fear of anchovies with my husbands amazing caesar dressing.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand: pad thai.
Now, my history with pad thai is a very brief one. I honestly haven’t had it that much. But lately, my obsession with Thai, and specifically the Banana Leaf in Port Townsend (where we go every. single. time. we are in town now so I can get my pumpkin curry fix) has started (obviously) to get a little out of hand. I seriously crave Thai at least once a week now and since we only go to PT usually once a month and I was sorely disappointed with the Thai restaurant we have in town, I have taken matters in to my own hands.
But, since I’ve only had pad thai a handful of times and namely from the Banana Leaf, I really have no idea what was “authentic” while I perused recipes on line. I was looking for something that seemed simple enough for me to make without having to buy too many crazy ingredients but not have heaps of sugar and peanut butter and ketchup which just seem like they don’t really belong in a traditional pad thai.
(God, I’m rambling. But making pad thai is kind of a big deal for me.)
In the end, I decided on this recipe as the best compromise and I liked that it had a lot of optional things that I generally opted out of but still felt like I was making something relatively authentic. But I have no idea why I thought this as I am obviously no expert but just go with me here.
- 1/2 lime
4 teaspoons fish sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground dried chili pepper
1 cup onion, minced
2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 package Thai rice noodles
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/2 cup green onion tops
2 tablespoons peanuts
1-1/3 cup bean sprouts
Soak the dry noodles in lukewarm water while preparing the other ingredients, for 5-10 minutes. Cut up green onion tops into 1 inch long pieces. Set aside a few for a garnish. Rinse the bean sprouts and save half for serving fresh. Mince onion and garlic together.
Use a wok. If you do not have a wok, any big pot will do. Heat it up on high heat and pour oil in the wok. Fry the peanuts until toasted and remove them from the wok. Add shallot, garlic and tofu and stir them until they start to brown. The noodles should be flexible but not expanded at this point. Drain the noodles and add to the wok. Stir quickly to keep things from sticking. Add vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, chili pepper. Stir. The heat should remain high. If your wok is not hot enough, you will see a lot of juice in the wok at this point. Turn up the heat, if it is the case. Make room for the egg by pushing all noodles to the side of the wok. Crack the egg onto the wok and scramble it until it is almost all cooked. Fold the egg into the noodles. Add bean sprouts, green onion. Stir a few more times. The noodles should be soft and very tangled.
Pour onto the serving plate and sprinkle with extra peanuts and chili flakes. Serve hot with raw green onion and raw bean sprouts on top.
Doesn’t seem too bad, right? Well, it was a bit stressful because it is all pretty much active time but with husband’s help, I made it work!
The main issue that I had with this recipe is that since I purchased my noodles from the bulk bin, I didn’t have a package size to go by so I estimated and just did 8 ounces of noodles. I think that it threw the noodle to sauce ratio off a bit so in the future, I would double the sauce ingredients. And I wouldn’t mind tracking down some tamarind to use instead of the rice vinegar, I just couldn’t find any and didn’t want to make the trip up to Central Market that day.
I also didn’t soak the noodles quite long enough. I only did 8 minutes because I was so paranoid from reading the notes of the recipe about over-soaking them!
After a lot of stirring, the noodles were a hot tangly mess but it totally hit the spot and I can’t wait to try making pad thai again.
Though, I’m not sure why mine aren’t the neon orange like they are at Banana Leaf? But the flavor seemed spot on. Does tamarind make it orange? Or does that mean that BL uses ketchup? I have no idea.
I’m happy to report that I am no longer afraid of rice noodles or fish sauce. But I am officially scared of this guy:
(Thanks to Sabrina for sending that link to me!)