I love Pad Thai. And I've only been eating it for about a year. Ive tried it in years past but could never see what the fuss was about. I finally tried it at The Thai Hut on King Street in Saint John, a lunch counter positioned in the back of the quirky Quality Convenience. I still love their Pad Thai, but it's nothing like the other versions I've had at home, or other restuarants. Theirs has a creamy yellow sauce which I am always puzzling over. Rumour has it there is ketchup in it, but I can't quite figure out what else might be part of the unique flavour.
I liked it so much that I've been working on my own Pad Thai for the past year and am finally at a spot that makes both me and Tony happy. It's in the style of the other Pad Thais I've tasted, but of course, mine is tastier. This one takes the Joy of Cooking recipe as a foundation with a few amendments.
One of the points of contention has been tamarind- I like the addition of tamarind juice, but Tony prefers it without. This version has three protein options: egg, shrimp, and chicken andtofu, but obviously these can be mixed and matched or omitted as desired, but I do feel the eggs are an important component. There is cilantro in this version, as someone in my house is allergic to it, but feel free to add your own at the end with the last batch of ingredients.
The quality of rice noodles also make an impact. Some rice sticks just fall apart in the wok, others take the whole afternoon soaking to soften up. My uncle recently let me in on a time saver tip: rice sticks can be boiled when you're short on time! Brilliant.
250 gr rice sticks
6 Tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
16 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 chicken breast cut into pieces; or 1 C firm tofu, cubed
2 bunches of scallions, green and white parts cut into inch long pieces
16 pea pods
3 Thai chili peppers of any colour, chopped, including seeds
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 C bean sprouts
2/3 C peanuts, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 C fish sauce
1/4 C lemon juice
3 Tbsp sugar
1. Soak the rice sticks according to package directions.
2. Combine the fish sauce, lemon juice and sugar in a measuring cup. Set aside.
3. Heat three tablespoons of the oil in a wok at a very high heat, to just when it's about to smoke. Quickly cook the shrimp, swirling them quickly until fat and plump. Remove to a side dish. Repeat with the chicken, also removing them. Then scramble the eggs in the remaining oil, working quickly, and remove to a side dish.
4. Heat the remaining oil in the wok to a high heat. Add, all together, the scallions, chilies, and garlic, stir frying for about two minutes or when the garlic begins to brown.
5. Rinse the noodles and add them to the wok with the scallion mixture. Mix well.
6. Add the fish sauce mixture and toss to coat.
7. Add the shrimp, eggs and chicken. Mix well.
8. Add the bean sprouts, peanuts, black pepper, red pepper flakes. Toss well, making sure everything is hot, and well mixed. Serve immediately.