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Pad Thai

Pad Thai recipe at bottom of page...

I love Pad Thai. Well actually, I love noodles of any description and luckily many cultures have them in their food offerings for me to eat. I can't imagine life without noodles whether they be wheat, rice, potato or bean starch or other type of flour like buckwheat. The downer about noodles is they are carb-bombs and can pack a ton of calories in a small little package. Oh well, I eat them anyway, fat ass be damned.

I love Italian noodles, Japanese noodles, Chinese noodles, German noodles, Korean noodles and most of all I love Vietnamese and Thai noodles, rice noodles to be specific, wide or thin matters not, they're all great. Of all the noodles dishes from Asia that I love to eat be they restaurant prepared or made by moi, it is the Pad Thai, Pad Sew from Thailand, Pho soup from Vietnam and Chow Fun or Chow Mein from China that I adore.  All of 'em. Of course, like children, I like some more than others, but being a fair and reasonable diner, like a father, I try to not show any favouritism, I apportion my affection equally, well perhaps I do lean towards one or the other more often, but they are my children and diet after all.

Of the noodles I prefer the most it is Pad Thai and Chow Fun I love the mostest. For the longest time I suffered with soggy noddle syndrome when making them at home because my stove lacked the power necessary to heat and maintain the heat in a wok. I think I may have mentioned in posts previously that I had a ceramic stove top and hated it with a capital HATE.

Surfing for food porn one night I happened on the most sinful web site I had ever come across. Evil and sensual at the same time for a food addict such as me. It showed pictures of wok burners, naked and wanting a good slow hand to get them hot and caress some favour from them. I was smitten. I grabbed my wallet and placed an order and waited. When it arrived it was love at first wok.

I have mentioned the website before and I will again, it's http://www.outdoorstirfry.com The wok I purchased is a 160,000 Btu jobby and while one does not need that kind of heat to stirfry, like boobs, bank accounts and peckers, bigger is many times better, and when it comes to Btu's that is certainly the case. Mind you just because you have a bigger whatsit does not mean great results automatically, you need technique and practice, and unlike somethings, those can't be faked. Well, okay, you can fake them, I've been doing it for years...



On a normal gas stove (residential) the maximum Btu you can get is around 20,000 Btu's. If you go for a Garland, Wolf or other high end residential stove you can push the Btu's to 25,000 to 30,000 on a wok burner arrangement.  In a commercial kitchen using woks the Btu's can run from 60,000 to 200,000.  Now that's some Btu power.

So back to my wok burner, I like it not only because of its massive Btu's capability but also because of it's portability. It has removable legs for transporting or working on a table top and has a big MF'ng burner sitting below a 13" wok base that can handle my 22" wok with ease (see bigger is better) and gives me great results. The wok I got from Cabellas and is made by Eastman Outdoors and since I purchased it a few months back it has been used many, many times. What a pair. The dream team I say.

 
I am hopeful that by the end of this winter I may have been able to buy a friend who will invite me to their house and if that happens I will bring my big-ass wok burner, big-ass wok and even the food to go with them to cement the friendship. But alas, I am hopeful but doubtful at the same time - kind of like standing at the doorway of a whorehouse and not having any cash... Will you be my friend?

Now where was I? Oh! Waxing on about wokking.

If you want to go and buy a wok burner of your very own go to the website I mention above. I have blazed the trail for you and they are straight-up guys to deal with and the price is fair, and no, I don't have any affiliation with them, they just offer great product and are good to deal with and I like to tell people about good businesses to deal with.

Now about that Pad Thai.  To make it properly you will need some supplies that you can find at an Asian market, Superstore has a great selection of Asian foods to look through, at least in the Prince George store;  however I shop at the Chinese Store in downtown Prince George for most of what I need in condiments and frozen offerings. In any event whether at a local store or buying some goods online there are a number of ways to secure the staples necessary to prepare great Pad Thai and you too can be a wokking superstar with a modicum of effort to locate quality ingredients.

Prince George's - The Chinese Store

Rice noodles, or rice sticks.  If you can't get fresh rice noodles in your area you can use dried ones.  Just soak the rice stick noodles (not rice vermicelli)  in hot water until they are pliable but not fully soft, al dente actually, semi-hard even.  If you soak them, when they become pliable remove them and drain well, they will continue to soften as they sit and then fully soften once you cook them.



The hard to find item is the tamarind paste.  You may find it in an Asian market and it comes in a block.  If so, you need to soak some of the tamarind in hot water then squeeze it through a cheesecloth to get a useable paste.  Too much work for a lazy bastard like me.  I look for the tamarind paste concentrate that I can use straight form the jar and it is terrific. Worth looking for and you can't make great Pad Thai without it, so you must search, or email me, I'll sell you some, for a small mark-up.



The palm sugar is not as hard to find as the tamarind paste and it is normally available in the Asian markets as well.  It will come pressed in a small puck shape, and you can also find coconut palm sugar in the organic section of the supermarket and that is what I have used lately, although it is more expensive than the palm sugar pucks. Do you have to use palm sugar? No, you can use brown sugar in lieu, but there is a subtle taste difference, but not a meal killer.


The rest of the ingredients are available in most supermarkets now, so with a little effort you can do this too. Yes you can! Trust me! Would I lie to you? Go ahead! Try!!! Awwww. Come on! Don't be a quitter before you even start...

So without anymore bombastic bullshit from me, here are the steps and in living colour too... Okay maybe a little bit more bombast.

In cooking the French have a term - "mise en place" which, loosely translated means everything in place. In Asian cooking all ingredients are ready and at your fingertips when the wok fires up, because with that kind of heat, shit happens fast and you don't want to burn the food by having to go search for some necessary ingredient for the dish you are cooking.  As well, everything is cut into bite size pieces to make eating it with chopsticks easier. So when using a wok, or any other cooking implement, have everything cut, mixed and ready to toss in the pan when needed.  It is the single biggest technique that will help you reach wokking stardom...
The table is old and battered and yes, during our snowy winters I cook in the garage with this big MF'ng wok...
Pad Thai

8 ounces pork, chicken, or beef, sliced thin across the grain

2 Tbsp light soy sauce

2 Tbsp sake or rice wine

1 Tbsp tapioca or corn starch

1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp baking soda
Place all above ingredients in a glass bowl and mix together well until all meat pieces are well coated (if you are using chicken you don't need to use baking soda, it is tender anyways), cover and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.

8 ounces fresh raw shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 Tbsp tamarind paste
2 Tbsp fish sauce

2 Tbsp palm sugar
1 Tbsp sake or rice wine
4 ounces dried rice stick noodles or 10 ounces fresh noodles
4 Tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
3 Tbsp minced green onions
1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced or pressed
2 whole eggs, beaten
8 ounces bean sprouts, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup water
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped, divided


Place the fish sauce, palm sugar, sake and tamarind paste in a small sauce pan, heat and stir until the sugar dissolves then remove from heat, set aside.

If using dried rice sticks place the rice stick noodles in a large bowl and fill with boiling water to cover all the noodles Let sit in water for about 5 minutes or so, testing for al dente, then drain and then rinse under cold running water to stop the process and ensure the noodles don't become stuck together, set aside.

Place wok over high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil. Heat until it the oil just begins to smoke.

Place meat in wok and stir fry until medium rare, about 2 minutes, remove from wok and set aside.




Add another tablespoon of oil and add the eggs and stir fry until just barely cooked, remove from wok and set aside.

Return wok to heat and add the shrimp and cook until the meat has turned colour then remove from heat and set aside.


You may have gathered by this time that I like to precook the long cooking-time ingredients first.  Once you get ready to make the Pad Thai they all come together and heat up nicely and nothing is burnt or over/under cooked.

With the wok over high heat add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat to smoking, add garlic and fry until lightly brown. Add noodles and toss in the oil and keep tossing to prevent sticking and burning.  If it looks like they are heating too fast add a little water to slow it down.
I had some flowering chives so I minced them up and added them with the garlic. Yummy...




Once water has evaporated if using, add half the sauce and continue to toss the noodles.  Add the meat, shrimp, eggs, bean sprouts and 2/3rds of the peanuts. Toss well to mix the ingredients well.







At this point add the rest of the sauce to full coat all the ingredients, continue to toss the ingredients until heated fully and the bean sprouts are hot.

Place Pad Thai on serving platter and sprinkle the rest of the peanuts and the green onions on top, unless you like them cooked like I do, then add them just before you finish cooking it.

Serve hot to adoring fans...


Snowy Palms Resort

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