Last week I cooked for the folks at the Unreasonable Institute again. You gotta love catering for a group of people where most of them give you a big hug when they see you! Makes the job so much nicer.
I decided to make Pad Thai. This is one of my favorite foods. Quick and easy, Pad Thai is a great week night supper. This dish may seem complicated with its unique Thai flavors but is actually a pretty simple dish to make.
Since Pad Thai makes use of the veggies you have on-hand and eggs it is a simple and inexpensive dish. Eggs are a great source of cheap protein. You can also prep your ingredients up to a day before and assemble and heat the day you serve the dish. I will make up a bottle of Pad Thai sauce and keep in the fridge for 2 weeks to make salad dressing and other Asian dishes.
To further simplify this dish you can buy a roasted chicken at Whole Foods or one of those yummy cheap ones from Costco and even go so far as to buy the pre-cut veggies in the produce section. This way you can cook the noodles, saute your veggies and make sauce.
How to cook rice noodles:
Rice noodles cook differently than wheat noodles. They are more delicate.
Bring a pot of about 4-5 quarts of water to a boil. In another pot add your noodles. Pour hot water over noodles and let sit for about 8 minutes. You want to under cook your noodles a little bit as the noodles will finish cooking in the sauce when you stir fry your Pad Thai together.
Give your noodles a taste after 5-6 minutes and drain when they are tender but still seem a bit underdone. Toss with sesame oil, canola oil or olive oil and set aside. Make sure to toss noodles well in oil as you do not want them to stick together in a huge clump!
Prep what ever veggies you may have on hand. I shred carrots on a cheese grater with the big holes. Thinly slice celery, onions, bell pepper, mushrooms or bok choy. If I add broccoli I will par cook the broccoli ahead of time until just tender crisp and pull apart the broccoli to make small pieces. Wash your mung bean sprouts, cilantro and fine dice some cucumbers before cooking. Toppings on Pad Thai give it bright flavors and intriguing crunchy bits like fresh cucumber or chopped peanuts.
I like to use chicken thighs in Pad Thai. Roast bone-less skin less chicken thighs in the oven and dice them in a small dice. This step can be done up to 1 day ahead of time. I will usually plan to make a dish with chicken the day before and reserve 4-5 thighs for the Pad Thai the next day.
You can use shrimp, roasted chicken, sautéed and diced cooked chicken breasts or any other protein you enjoy like diced extra firm tofu. Pad Thai is a great dish to clean out the fridge and just use what you have on hand.
Recipe yields about 3 cups sauce. Use within two weeks or freeze for later.
1/4 cup Yoshida Sauce or other sweet teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup good tomato paste
2 tbs soy sauce
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
2 tbs fish sauce
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup minced fresh green onions
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbs good toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce (just one chili not the whole can!) This adds a nice smokey and sweet taste to your pad thai sauce. It is not traditional but very yummy.
Put everything in a blender or food processor and pulse until blended but still a bit chunky. I will add the cilantro and green onions at the end and just pulse a few times after adding the herbs if I use a food processor.
Pad Thai Recipe
1 box thick rice noodles like Annie Chung brand.
4 eggs lightly scrambled
Veggies diced all the same size if possible up to 4 cups
I will use bell peppers, mushrooms, celery, carrots, onions, chard, cabbage or anything else you have on hand.
4 cooked chicken thighs diced
2 tbs canola oil
Cook noodles as per directions on box and set aside. Make sure to toss noodles in 1 tbs oil so they do not stick together.
Sautee veggies in 1 tbs oil in wok or large skillet. When veggies are tender crisp but not fully cooked add chicken and sauce. Stir to mix. Bring to a simmer and add noodles. Toss to coat and serve.
I like to serve Pad Thai topped with ground peanuts, mung bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, fresh lime wedges and diced cucumber.