One of my favorite types of cuisine is from Thailand, a country rich in regional food traditions and fresh flavor combinations. With the popularity of Asian food growing throughout the United States, ingredients once very difficult to find are readily available at most local supermarkets. Of all the dishes that I have tried, there is one that I always come back to. Pad Thai is a simple yet exotic combination of basic ingredients that is sure to satisfy a wide range of tastes from mild to wild. Combining several non-meat protein sources, this vegetarian version is a healthy power-packed meal that is easy to prepare.
To get started you will need to gather the following ingredients:
12 ounces dried flat rice noodles
3 table spoons tamarind paste
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Sriracha or other Asian chile sauce
1 bunch scallions
1 pound shelled edamame, thawed if frozen
1 pound extra firm tofu cubed
1 1/2 cups peanut oil
6 large eggs
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
Begin by soaking the noodles in a large bowl of warm water until they have softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Once soft drain well and return to the bowl and cover with a damp paper towel.
To make the sauce, soak the tamarind in the boiling hot water in a small bowl, stirring once in a while to softened, about 5 minutes. Press the pulp through a fine mesh strainer into a larger bowl and throw away any seeds or fibers that will not pass. Combine with the soy sauce, brown sugar and Sriracha. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
Next cut the scallions into 2-inch pieces. Rinse tofu and cut into 1-inch cubes then gently pat dry to reduce splatter when frying.
Start heating the peanut oil in a wok or large sauté pan. Once hot begin frying the tofu one layer at a time, turning until golden brown on all sides. Transfer the tofu to a paper towel. Repeat until all tofu has been nicely colored. Pour off the oil and save for later.
Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt, trying not to create too many bubbles. Heat two tablespoons of the oil in your pan over high heat. Add the eggs and scramble until just cooked through. Break up any large chunks with a spatula and transfer to a plate.
Wipe out your pan and reheat over high heat. Pour in six tablespoons of oil and stir-fry scallions, garlic and edamame until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the noodles and continue stir-frying over medium heat about 3-4 minutes. Add tofu, bean sprouts and 1 1/2 cups of the sauce and simmer until the noodles have absorbed most of the sauce and are tender, about 3-4 minutes. At this point you can add the remaining sauce if you want, then stir in the eggs and serve in a large bowl or individual plates with the chopped peanuts on top. You should get 4-6 nice portions. I like to garnish the dish with fresh cilantro, a few wedges of lime and more chile sauce. The cilantro and lime help to cut through the heat of the chile sauce, which is nice because I like mine hot.
This dish can also be prepared with chicken, pork or shrimp, cut into small pieces and stir-fried with the vegetables. Enjoy.
Josh Auerhammer is chef/owner of Culinary Design Studio.
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