I always thought of my Indian palate as having a well accommodating leeway for chilies used in any cuisine, till the day I stepped in for the first time to a Thai restaurant and valorously announced to the lady who was managing our table that I will have my plate of stir fry ( It was something like Pad Bai Gra Prow !!!) at its spiciest best. I learned two good lessons that day.
1) I am not as good as I thought with Thai red chilies.
2) You don’t have to be “hot” all the time; there are days in your life when you can be content just by being ‘medium”!
Ever since that incident I am trying to be humble when picking my levels and my admiration for Thai cuisine has grown beyond my own expectations.
Pad Thai is one Thai dish that I prepare often, as the recipe is devoid of hard to find fresh herbs or spice blends. This recipe treads in between a milder version of Pad Thai as it is made in the streets of Thailand and a comparatively spicier preparation closer to what we find in the restaurants here.
1/2 lb Thin dried rice noodles
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp tamarind juice
2 Tbsp palm or coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 tbsp + 2 tsp peanut oil
11/2 cup fresh prawns, shelled, deveined
1 cup firm tofu, cut into thin I inch strips
Sweet Soy sauce – 1 tbsp (substitute with ½ tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp brown sugar)
4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 shallots, thinly sliced (or 1/4 cup finely chopped onion)
2 tbsp small dried shrimp
1-3 tsp ground dried red chilies, to desired hotness
3 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 cup garlic chives cut into 1 1/2-inch-long segments ( optional)
½ cup crushed unsalted roasted peanuts
1 lime, cut into small wedges
Cilantro – 2 tbsp
Green onions cut into thin 1 inch long pieces – ½ cup
Soak the dried rice noodles in warm water for 30 minutes or till the noodles are limp but firm to the touch. Drain and keep. Mix tofu strips with sweet soy sauce and marinate for 10 minutes. Mix together, fish sauce, tamarind juice and palm sugar. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok till smoking hot. Stir fry prawns at high heat for 2 minutes. Sprinkle some fish sauce and remove from wok. Add the remaining oil to wok; add tofu and stir fry till the pieces are golden brown. Add garlic, shallots, and dried shrimp, stir fry for a minute. Add ground chilies, stir well, and add the noodles. Stir-Fry for 2 more minutes, move the mixture to the sides of the wok. Heat 1 tsp oil in the center of the wok, add beaten eggs to the center, and scramble lightly till the eggs are cooked. Mix in with the noodles. Add the sweet and sour sauce mix; stir well to coat the noodles. If the noodles are still firm to touch, add 2 tbsp water and cook for an extra minute. Add garlic chives, cut green onions and fry for 1 more minute. Remove from fire, serve hot topped with crushed peanuts and chopped green onions. . Serve with a cup of bean sprouts, and couple of lemon wedges. Servings -- 3