Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pad Thai

This was one of my first recipes I discovered when I started my food blog. That was over 2 years ago now! I can't believe it! 

This recipe is fun for so many reasons. It forced me to learn more about cooking because of all the different ingredients, flavors and textures involved. Don't let that intimidate you! I have made this over a dozen times since my first time, and it always turns out a little different but that is one of the things I love about it

It is also one of my husband's favorite dishes and we have made it for guests several times and it is always a hit. 

I love the sweetness of the peanuts against the freshness of the cilantro and the tartness of the lime. It really does have a great flavor combination.


 First, if you are unfamiliar with Asian cooking, you might want to take a look at my post about How To Start Cooking Asian Food. It shows you the basics to keep on hand and explains a little more about them.

The hardest thing to find for this recipe are the rice noodles. They are also called Vietnamese banh-po or Thai sen-mee. I have been able to find them at most grocery stores in the Asian food section. They usually look similar in package and shape to these:


To make the rice noodles, bring a pot of water to almost a boil on the stove. Once it's getting close to boiling, remove it from the heat and place the noodles inside for about 10 minutes. (So you want to do this about half way through preparing your other ingredients so they don't sit too long). After 10 minutes, try eating a noodle, you want it to be pliable but not too soft. Remember, we will be cooking these briefly in the skillet with the other ingredients later. But make sure they aren't too chewy, one time they were too chewy and it ruined the whole dish :(

 (don't let these pictures deceive you, the burner is off!)

Next you want to prepare all your toppings so that when your main noodles are ready you don't have to let them get cold to prepare your peanuts, lime, cilantro and green onions. 

Using a micrograter or small grater grate about a teaspoon of lime peel. You will combine this with some peanuts. 


Chop up your green onions, cilantro and peanuts. And pretend there are pictures of peanuts, whoops!


Next you want to cut your chicken into bite sized pieces. I recommend using chicken tenders or breasts. Meanwhile, heat up a skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of cooking oil and a teaspoon or so of garlic. Add your chicken and cook until chicken is cooked through, around 5 minutes.


Now, remove the chicken from the skillet but while the skillet is still hot, add an egg that you have beaten in a small bowl. Cook the egg until set, around 1 minute. Remove from the skillet and chop the egg up, or be lazy like me and chop it while it's still in the skillet.


Finally, mix together your sauce ingredients. Then add them to the skillet with the noodles and bean sprouts. Don't be afraid of bean sprouts, they are usually pretty inexpensive and can be found in the refrigerated produce section. Add your cooked chicken too, and stir fry for about 2 minutes to get all the flavors together.


Finally, plate noodles and then top with green onion, peanuts, cilantro, lime peel and egg. 

I would also like to mention that this recipe, just like any other can be tweaked, if you don't have green onions or bean sprouts, don't fret, it will still be good! Do the best you can :)

Pad Thai
adapted from Better Homes and Garden
Serves 4 smaller portions or 2 generous portions

Ingredients
8 ounces rice noodles (also called Thai Banh Pho)

Sauce:
4 Tablespoons soy or fish sauce
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
4 1/2 Teaspoons rice vinegar
1 1/4 Tablespoon Asian chile sauce or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  
Topping:
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup peanuts (I prefer half crushed and half whole)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/3 cup sliced green onion


2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders, cut into strips or chunks
1 egg slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups fresh bean sprouts


Directions

Place a pot of water on the stove and bring almost to a boil. Before boiling, remove from heat and add noodles. Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Then test to see if noodles are pliable but not soft. Drain well in a colander. 

 Meanwhile, for peanut topping, combine peanuts and grated lime peel; set aside. Also, chop up cilantro and green onions. Set all aside for topping at end.



In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and garlic; cook and stir for 6 minutes until chicken is tender and no pink remains. Transfer chicken to a bowl.


Add egg to the hot skillet and cook for 30 seconds. Turn egg with spatula and cook for 30 to 60 seconds more, just until set. Remove and chop egg; set aside.

In a small bowl combine fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and chile sauce; stir until smooth. Set aside.


In same skillet heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over high heat for 30 seconds. Add drained noodles and sprouts; stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add sauce mixture and chicken; cook 1 to 2 minutes more until heated through. 

Divide noodle mixture among four plates or bowls.

Sprinkle each serving with egg and peanut topping. Garnish with green onion and cilantro. 

Enjoy!

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