I’ve had quite the Asian theme going in the last few posts, and we couldn’t be happier campers. Well, maybe Nate would be if he didn’t have to split the leftovers with me!
Pad Thai was on my 30 Before 30 list, and as the months are quickly dwindling away, I am finally getting to it. I really should have tried it much sooner because it was amazballs. Part of the reason it has taken me so long to try this recipe is because one of the star ingredients, tamarind, isn’t available at my local grocery store. I actually had to step outside my comfort zone and stop into my local Asian market. Not sure why I was hesitant or what I was really expecting, but the gentleman who was working was quite friendly and more than helpful. This market carried paste, powder, and the solid block. Some upscale grocery stores may carry tamarind, usually in paste form and in the Asian isle. But, the recipe I followed strongly suggests using the solid form that comes in a block.
Clearly, I’ve never worked with tamarind before, but I’m sure I’ve had it in a handful of Asian dishes I’ve ordered, not even knowing what the flavor really was. Tamarind is a pod-like fruit that tastes quite sweet and slightly tart. In my opinion, the sweetness and consistency is similar to figs. Seeing as though I only needed 3 tbsp for the Pad Thai, I had most of the block left. After some research, it appears the tamarind block can be stored in airtight container on the shelf. No refrigeration necessary. Most people says it lasts “forever”, though I’m guessing you’ll use it all before forever comes after you’ve tried this Pad Thai.
This recipe comes from Nicole over at Prevention RD. It was another home run! I can always count on her food to be yummy. There are a lot of components, and it’s slightly cumbersome to prepare, but as Nicole suggests, if you have everything measured out and ready to go, it comes together really quickly. This dish really hit the spot! After a long night with friends (and a few drinks), we were really ready for some flavorful comfort food. It’s amazing how much flavor the peanuts add, so do NOT forget them! For you vegetarians, the shrimp can easily be omitted or substituted with tofu, and omit the fish sauce or use this recipe for a substitute. I only made a few adaptations to Nicole’s recipe, which was using 1 tsp cayenne rather than 3/4 tsp (of course we like it spicy), and using fresh rice noodles rather than the dried variety. Whether you think you like Thai food or not, I highly suggest trying this out. Nate and I really enjoyed it; he even had two hearty helpings!
Shrimp Pad Thai
Source: Adapted from Prevention RD
3 tbsp tamarind solid
3/4 cup water, boiling
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp peanut oil
8 oz rice stick noodles (my grocery store had fresh, but dried will work just fine)
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
6 tbsp unsalted peanuts
3 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cup scallions, sliced thin
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
1. Soak tamarind in 3/4 cup boiling water for 10 minutes. Push tamarind through mesh strainer, reserving water in medium bowl. To the bowl, add fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne and 2 tbsp peanut oil. Stir and set aside.
2. If using dried rice stick noodles, cover with hot tap water in large bowl; soak until softened, pliable, and limp but not fully tender, about 20 minutes. Drain noodles and set aside. If using fresh rice stick noodles, in a medium sauce pan, fill with water and bring to a boil.
3. In a small bowl, beat eggs and 1/8 tsp salt. Set aside.
4. Heat 1 tbsp oil in large skillet or wok over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add shrimp and sprinkle with remaining salt. Cook and flip occasionally, until shrimp are opaque and beginning to brown around edges, about 3 minutes (don’t worry, they don’t have to be cooked completely through at this point). Transfer to plate and set aside.
5. Discard any excess liquid in pan. Add remaining tbsp oil to skillet and swirl to coat; heat to medium. Add garlic and shallot and cook until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add eggs to skillet and stir with wooden spoon until lightly scrambled, less than 1 minute. Meanwhile, drop rice stick noodles into boiling water, immediately remove and transfer to skillet. Pour fish sauce mixture over noodles, increase heat to high, and toss constantly to coat noodles evenly. Scatter 1/4 cup peanuts, bean sprouts, scallions (reserving some for garnish) and cooked shrimp over noodles. Continue to cook on high, tossing until noodles are tender, about 3 minutes.
6. Transfer noodles to serving platter, sprinkle with remaining peanuts, scallions and cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedge.