No. Not really. I am one of those people who can safely say that I have no family recipes as my parents never really cooked so there was nothing to pass down. But last week I had a play around with the pad thai sauce and came up with something I rather liked.
Basically, a pad thai should always be made one serve at a time in a heated wok or frying pan. The idea is to get all the ingredients ready to go and fry them off in quick succession. Hence the origin of the pad thai sauce. I have tried a couple of pre-made pad thai sauces and they were never really any good.
Pad Thai Sauce
(this makes about 1 cup of pad thai sauce – about 8 servings)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped*
- 5 tbsp of tamarind paste**
- 8 tbsp of fish sauce (substitute with mushroom soy sauce and vegetarian oyster sauce for vegetarian version)
- 2 tbsp of water
- 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp of palm sugar or 1 tbsp of normal sugar
Sautee the onion and chilli very slowly in the vegetable oil until the onion becomes translucent and softens. Add the sugar, fish sauce and tamarind. Add a bit of water and bring to boil (yes your kitchen will probably smell of fish sauce). Simmer very gently for about 10 minutes. Let it cool and blend with a stick blender.
(oooh double yolk!)
Frying the Noodle
You can add meat if you wish. Traditionally in Thailand, they are made without meat but prawns and mixed seafood have become a popular choice recently.
- dried rice sticks, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, drained
- 1/2 tbsp of dried shrimps (omit for vegetarian version)
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup of beansprouts
- 1 tsp of salted Chinese radish
- 2 tbsp of chopped garlic chives
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp of firm, fried tofu, sliced thinly
- 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
Heat the frying pan or wok on very high. Add garlic, dried shrimps, salted Chinese radish and tofu. Fry for a minute or two. Grab a large handful of the soaked noodles and add to the wok. Stir around and add 2 tbsp of the pad thai sauce and two tbsp of water. Stir fry until the noodles soften. Push the noodles aside and add a bit more oil (this is not diet food, by the way) and wait until it’s heated. Crack and egg into the oil and scramble brief. Push the noodles onto the egg and let the egg cook for a minute or two before stirring the whole thing together. Add beansprouts and garlic chives.
- 1 wedge of lime or lemon
- 1 tsp of crushed chilli
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1 tbsp of peanuts, slightly pounded
- 1 handful of beansprouts
- 1 tbsp of chopped garlic chives
Fry the peanut on a non-stick pan with the tiniest amount of oil until slightly coloured. Take them off the heat immediately because they will continue to brown and they will end up burned. Pound slightly to serve. I like to mix everything together but the idea of having the chilli, sugar, lemon and peanuts on the side is so that everyone could flavour their pad thai to their preference.
* I am one of those of the opinion that the pad thai sauce should have a little bit of a bite to it. However, it isn’t necessary. What is, however, is just the warm undertone of fresh chilli in the sauce. So scrape the seeds and the membrane of the chilli (the hottest bit) off and then chop finely for the sauce if you don’t want too much heat in your sauce.
** tamarind paste is a mixture of dried sour taramind squeezed with water. You can buy the pods of dried tamarinds and mix with water to form pulp and squeeze the juice yourself or buy a jar of pre-made of tamarind paste. My local Safeway sells it in the Asian aisle. Don’t mistake for the concentrated version which is much stronger. If you have the concentrated version, dilute it.