Remember when I said that Dinners Around the World was a New Year’s Resolution goal for the new year? I am fully embracing my goal rhetoric because I find myself in mid-April with a family who has just recovered from a week of the stomach flu yet still delirious with California memories of spring break. Oh, yes. My spring break was great fun until it wasn’t. The first of eleven dropped with the stomach flu on the last day of vacation. I believe at the end there were only two left standing – the oldest and the youngest. I won’t go into the details but will only say this – my husband is a hero. He had not yet come down with what my six year old called ‘the vomiting sick’ and so he drove us home in a one day sixteen hour journey that involved far, far, too many plastic bags. I won’t go any further. Suffice it to say, we are glad to be home and healthy here in mid-April.
So, let’s get back to our goal shall we? I must confess that I think I’m a fair cook. Good even. Sometimes great. Sometimes. But Israeli cooking eluded me. My falafels dissolved in the frying oil. Dissolved. As in they went in as cute little falafel balls, and when I went to scoop them out, nothing. There was nothing in the oil. How is that possible? It still baffles me. Oh, and I burned the Schnitzel. Yup. The Hummus was good, but I had made that before. To tell you the truth, I haven’t had a kitchen debacle that bad since I was in college. Oh well, I say, on to Thailand we go!
I am most excited by the cuisine from Thailand. My friend Chef Hong Thaimee of Ngam in New York City is a wonderful chef (read as: her falafels would never dissolve) and cooked on many occasion for me before she opened her bustling restaurant Ngam. In fact, if you are a fan of The Iron Chef, you may recall that she recently battled Chef Bobby Flay on that great show. I asked Chef Hong to share with us a Thai classic – her recipe for Pad Thai – the first installment on the weekly menu I created for us. She generously shares that recipe with us at The Blended Life.
Pad Thai or Needs No Introduction: Having its origins in Vietnam but made popular in Thailand in the 1930’s and 40’s by the Prime Minister who wanted to decrease rice consumption among Thai people thereby increasing their rice exports. It is now a staple of Thai cuisine. Below is Chef Hong’s Pad Thai recipe:
Pad Thai | ผัดไทย
Makes 2- 4 Servings
½ cup tamarind purée or paste
½ cup palm sugar
½ cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
4 jumbo (6-8 count/lb) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 large eggs, preferably organic
2 cups rice noodle, softened in room temperature water
½ cup extra-firm tofu, diced (deep-fried, optional)
1 tablespoon pickled turnip
1 cup chives, cut ½ cup into 1-inch lengths (save the rest for garnish and condiment)
1 cup bean sprouts (save half for garnish and condiment)
2 tablespoons peanuts, crushed
Ground dry red chili pepper, for garnish
4 lime wedges, for garnish
- In a small saucepan, combine tamarind puree, palm sugar and fish sauce in a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat. Bring it to a boil and reduce until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Take off the heat. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Cook the garlic and shallot until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute (do not brown). Add the shrimp and lightly cook for about 1 minute, then set them aside. Increase heat to high and add the eggs. Break the yolks and stir gently, but do not scramble, and cook for about 1-2 minutes.
- Once the egg is fully cooked, add the noodles and 3-4 tablespoons of the sauce. Stir until the noodle is softened. Add the cooked shrimp, tofu and pickled turnip and stir well. Add the chives, bean sprouts and peanuts.
- Transfer Pad Thai to 4 shallow bowls, garnish each with a sprinkling of dry ground red chili pepper and a lime wedge and serve hot.
- You don’t need a wok to make great Pad Thai. In fact, many great Pad Thai restaurants in Thailand use a flat iron pan to produce great flavors. The key is a hot pan to help caramelize and bring a smoky flavor to your favorite dish.
- You can make Pad Thai sauce ahead of time in a big batch and save it in a refrigerator for up to 3 months.
- This is the authentic old school Pad Thai recipe. You can be creative with other type of noodle like we do at NGAM – green papaya and zucchini Pad Thai – low carb but high in flavors.
Laap Khua or Northern Thai pork salad: A northern dish involving meat and fresh herbs.
Muu Sateh or Pork Loin Skewers marinated in coconut milk: Having an Indonesian origin, Sateh (Satay) is popular in Thailand and is paired with a peanut dipping sauce.
Tom Kha Kai or Tom Yum Soup with Coconut Milk: This soup holds all four classic Thai flavors together and originates from what is said to be an ancient recipe from the Central Plains region of Thailand.
Thai Pineapple Fried Rice or Your Kids Will Love This: A signature dish of Thailand that you will cook once and then over and over again!
Geng Kheaw Wan Gai or Green Curry Chicken: Borrowed from Indian cuisine but not like Indian curry at all. Made with green curry paste and coconut milk, your taste buds will thank you.
I continue to be so glad that we are cooking together. My children are enjoying the globe that sits in the middle of the dinner table and the discussion we have about other cultures. If you missed a month, no worries, its a goal, remember? So here are the menus from January, February and March. Happy cooking everyone!