Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pad Thai


I think I don't like rice very much. Weird, huh? Ate it all the time as a kid, never had a problem with it. It's just that I'd rather eat noodles. I went to TJ's and looked at a pack of frozen pad thai, and then decided not to get it after I realized that it made no sense to pay 3 bucks for $1 worth of ingredients. So I looked at some instructions online, and I read the directions on the back of the noodle bag, and this is what I came up with.

1/3 packet of pad thai noodles

1/2 lb firm tofu
1 tsp sesame oil
1 T soy sauce
1 T fish sauce

1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated lemon grass
a shake of hot pepper flakes
1 crushed garlic clove
4 sliced green onions, both green and white parts together

about 12 sliced pea pods
2 T peanut butter
1 T sugar
oil for frying
cilantro, if you want it

Put the noodles in a heatproof bowl large enough for them to lay down flat and cover them with boiling water. Stir them around a few times so they don't stick together, then let them sit for 15 or 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cube the tofu, and toss it with the sesame oil, soy, and fish sauce to marinate a bit.

When the noodles are pretty flexible, put a large-ish skillet on medium high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of oil, and the ginger, lemongrass, pepper, garlic and onions. Stir them quickly until browned, then add the tofu and any liquid with it. Brown the tofu a bit, then stir in the peas, peanut butter and sugar. As soon as the peas go bright green, drain most of the water off the noodles and add them to the pan. Stir fry until the noodles are soft and translucent. Serve with cilantro.


1. No lemongrass? Never mind. You can skip it or you can use the zest of an actual lemon.
2. Vegan? Just use soy, and skip the fish sauce.
3. The noodles cook amazingly fast, like, in about a minute. They will go gelatinous after that. Still tasty though.
4. The peanut butter makes the dish pretty sticky. You could use a handful of chopped peanuts instead, which I think is what you are actually supposed to do.
5. Keep the pan hot. Once you start cooking, everything should be in and out of the pan in rather less than 10 minutes.
6. Don't skip the sugar. I forgot it the second time I made this, and couldn't figure out what was the matter with it. The first time, I used palm sugar, because I happen to have some, but it doesn't matter what kind you use.
7. Remember, the veggies can be anything.

I was trying to think of other stuff that would be good in this. Scrambled egg and sunflower sprouts. Chicken, jicama and basil. Tempeh and bell peppers. That chinese marinated tofu with sliced baby zucchini and yellow squash. Pork and green apples. Shredded carrots and cabbage. Spinach and jerusalem artichokes. Or bok choi, or chard or chrysanthemum greens, or garlic tips, or or or or...ok, I'll calm down. Mostly I'm excited about the noodles. They were an unfamiliar food, and now I know how they work.

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