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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pad Thai, from an Indian kitchen

Pad thai, is one of those dishes that are universally liked, many times re-ordered, always saved as leftovers and  ordered by the non red/green/yellow curry eating person at a thai restaurant. I was first introduced to thai cuisine in the US, where I found myself switching  from the eaten - since - childhood - indo -chinese - food to the lemon grass and basil leaves spiced thai cuisine as my go to comfort oriental food of choice. I was fortunate find a few decent thai restaurants in Bangalore to keep the love going. And on a trip to singapore where thai food is extremely popular I found some very delectable versions of this noodle dish.

When I chanced upon some flat rice stick noodles at a local grocery store I knew that I had to make them, so I  quickly searched for pad thai recipe on  my phone and picked up the rest of the ingredients as well, technology well used.

Making a pad thai involves essentially five steps - boiling the noodles, making the sauce, preparing the meat and veggies, stir frying the ingredients and garnishing the dish. I've used this recipe which is a modification of various versions that I found on the internet. I think the end result was pretty decent, if I were to change something for the future I would make my sauce more tangy and use sesame oil instead of olive.

Ingredients
200 g  rice stick noodles
1.5 tablespoons dark tamarind paste
1/2 cup fish sauce
2 table spoons brown sugar
1 table spooon chilli paste
1 chicken breast (you can use shrimp/large prawns too)
2 eggs
1 spring onion
1/3 of a capsicum
4-5 mushrooms
1 lime/ lemon
5-6 garlic pods
5 table spoons peanuts
white/black pepper to taste
salt to taste
oil as required ( would recommend using sesame oil)
Most major supermarkets in Bangalore like Spar or Spencers stock the thai ingredients.

Preparation:
The sauce: In a saucepan, mix in the fish sauce, brown sugar and the tamarind paste ( I used the boxed one, you can me this paste from tamarind too but make sure it is concentrated). Add little water if required. once all ingredients are mixed in and the sugar is dissolved ( about 5-7 minutes) add the chilli paste. Taste the sauce and adjust the tanginess.

The meat and veggies: Chop the mushrooms, finely cube the capsicum, and finely chop the garlic. Take the chicken breast season with salt and pepper and grill or lightly fry after 20-30 mins. Chopped the chicken breasts into small cubes.

The noodles: Cooking the noodles is the tricky, its is suicidal for the dish to have overcooked soggy noodles. Follow the instructions on the pack carefully. Most rice stick noodles can be cooked by simply soaking in warm water as opposed to actual boiling. When in doubt leave the noodles slightly undercooked and cook gradually by sprinkling water.

The garnish: Take the eggs in a separate pan and scramble them to bits and keep aside,  take the peanuts and dry roast  on a hot pan and lightly crush, chop the spring onion to 1 cm long bits, cut a lime or lemon into 4 pieces and remove the seeds. The long bean sprouts are commonly seen as garnishing, I didn't have any hence I skipped.

The frying: Once all the prep is done take a wok (or a kadhai) and heat it up on high heat. Make sure you break down the pad thai ingredients into smaller portions according to the size of your wok so that you can work in batches. One the wok if fuming hot add 3-4 table spoons of oil and reduce the flame marginally (I did this because I was using olive oil). Add the capsicum first followed by the mushrooms let it fry for half a min and then add the garlic, and in go the chicken next. Traditionally the chicken would have been put in raw and then cooked in the wok itself but I precooked it, perhaps if you are using shrimp you can add them directly. Add the noodles stir vigorously to avoid clumping (I took the help of spaghetti tongs to move them apart). Add in the sauce so that all ingredients are coated with the brown liquid. Add in the salt and pepper to adjust the flavor.
Add in more oil if required. The entire frying should not take more than  8 minutes. Finally just before turning the the flame off add squeeze the lime and add the egg.

Serve immediately in individual serving plates topped with spring onions, peanuts, sprouts and lime wedges.

1 comment:

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