Thursday, December 09, 2004

My Pad Thai, with extra shrimp

(based on Mai Pham's "The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking)

I have a favorite Thai place near our home, but they always scrimp on the shrimp. Hmph.
Cooking it at home is a bit of a process using multiple pots and pans but it's tasty and at least I can add as many shrimps, pork or chicken pieces as I wish.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch about 2/3 pound of dried rice noodles, ("rice sticks" which look like thin linguine) to remove that strange musty scent. Remove quickly and drain and rinse under cold water.
Blanch about 2 cups of broccoli florets, drain and shock in ice water to stop cooking.
Make the sauce: combine 4 tbsps. of tamarind puree, 2 tbsp. of ketchup (prefer McDonald's, don't laugh! it's sweeter than Mrs. Heinz Kerry's), 2 tbsps. of fish sauce (Squid brand) and 1/2 tsp. of salt.
Saute 2 tsp. of minced garlic, 2 thinly sliced shallots, and 2 tsps. of ground chili paste (optional) until golden. Add the sauce ingredients. Add 2/3 cup chicken broth and simmer, stirring, until it reduces slightly.
Remove 2 tbsps. of sauce and set aside.
Add the noodles to the remaining sauce in the wok and using chopsticks, gently separate the noodles. Turn noodles and stir frequently, and let the noodles absorb the sauce. Cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of bean sprouts and 3 stalks of green onions, sliced into diagonal 1-in. pieces, and 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make the topping: Heat 1 tbsp. of oil and add 1/2 small yellow onion sliced thinly, 1 clove minced garlic, and saute until soft and aromatic. Add 1/2 lb. of raw peeled & deveined shrimp toss until cooked (pink & opaque). Add the broccoli, reserved sauce, and 1/3 cup chicken stock. Cover and cook until the vegetables are warmed through, about 2 minutes.
To serve: divide noodles into individual plates and top with the shrimp and broccoli stir-fry. Garnish with peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges.
**I also added 1/2 lb. of chopped boneless chicken thighs so my non-shrimp-eating #1 son would have it too. Pork may also be substituted.
There is a bottled "pad thai sauce," Maesri brand, that is a tasty time saver.