Heaven in a wok - a recipe for Pad Thai

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In spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. In the dead of December, a middle-aged man's thoughts turn to somewhat more prosaic matters, like food. So here is another recipe. Unlike the last one I posted, this one isn't the soul of simplicity. Instead, it is a recipe for a dish I am altogether too fond of, pad thai (Thai noodles). Once you buy the ingredients, it is actually simpler than it looks at first blush. For folks like cin, this can be made as a vegetarian dish, by substituting tofu for the chicken or shrimp. For the folks who do not live in a big city, or who do not care to buy a bunch of weird ethnic "white elephant" ingredients just to try out one recipe, I have indicated substitutions that work pretty well. There is only one substitution I refuse to mention. This dish requires Thai rice noodles. If you substitute linguine noodles, I am certain the Spirit of Pad Thai will be offended and will punish you - but I can't say for certain if the punishment will hurt. This is traditonally a spicy-hot dish. This recipe leaves it up to you to decide how much heat to inject. After you make it once or twice, you'll have a really good idea of your ideal heat. Pad Thai

Major ingredients:

1/2 lb. rice noodles
1/2 lb. shrimp or
1/2 lb. chicken breast, sliced in small sliversor
1/2 lb. extra firm tofu, cubed and fried
1/2 lb. bean sprouts
1 bunch of green onions, sliced
1/2 cup of coarsely grated carrot
2 eggs

Condiments and other ingredients:

3 Tbs. peanut oil
3 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. paprika
1 tsp. Nam Pla fish sauce
3 Tbs. Ba Oelek chili paste
2 Tbs. coarsely chopped peanuts
Optional: lemon wedges as a garnish
Optional: adjust "heat" using hot chili oil, cayenne or some other chili product. I favor 1 Tbs. Thai Sriracha chili/garlic sauce.


For peanut oil, use any vegetable oil
For Nam Pla, use soy sauce
For Ba Oelek, use 1/3 cup picante sauce

If you use rice noodles, you need to soak them in cold water ahead of time - at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours. In a mixing bowl, mix the Ba Oelek, Nam Pla, sugar, paprika, salt, eggs, green onions, carrots, bean sprouts, and any extra hot chili paste, oil or sauce. Set aside.

Heat a wok or extra-large frying pan. Add the peanut oil, then the chicken/shrimp/tofu. When mostly cooked through, add the mixture from the mixing bowl and stir-fry for another 5 minutes at high heat. Add the rice noodles. Turn heat down to medium high and stir fry another 5 minutes.

Transfer Pad Thai to a serving bowl. Garnish with peanuts and lemon wedges. Serve. Do not make too much of a pig of yourself, unless it is your first time...Damn! I love this stuff.

-- Little Nipper (canis@minor.net), December 13, 2001


Well, LN, as one Thai food enthusiast to another, I salute you. (I don't cook, but I sure consume.)

The DC area has a large number of excellent Thai restaurants. And my favorite oriental grocery store/deli is Thai.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), December 13, 2001.

Sounds excellent, but I would also throw in a few fresh mint leaves. Stimulates the pallete and provides a splendid contrast to the hot spicyness of this dish.

-- seeker (searching@high.and.low), December 13, 2001.


Sounds good to me. I have had a number of Thais work for me over the years. Some as technicans and some as grad students. One made the best egg rolls that I have ever had. Food is hot, but nothing like the real New Mexico. I grow a variety of peppers from Thailand. They used to be available from the seed places but have disappeared. Non-hybrid; so I save seed. The plants are naturally shaped like a ball with these little tiny, hot, peppers. Very pretty. They work well in such recipes. I also had a student from Peru. She gave me seeds from peppers that her family has grown for as long as anyone can remember. Damned thing gets 6 or 7 ft high. It produces the hottest peppers that I have ever tried. I am working up the courage to use them. ;o)))

Best wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), December 14, 2001.

I realize this is cheating a bit, but if you have a TraderJoes near, they have a very good Pad Thai noodles/sauce package that I add tofu and veggies to. It's even got a slightly fishy flavor, not too much - just enough.


-- (cin@cin.cin), December 14, 2001.

Hey Cin,

Nice reply... : )

Talkin' out my butt...

The Dog

-- The Dog (dogdesert@hotmail.com), December 14, 2001.

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