17 March 2009

Pad Thai

George found this recipe at ThaiTable.com. It's very authentic, but we don't put in the hot spice because of sensitive stomachs. Once Justine and I found fresh banana flower in Berkeley and used it but it turned out that the banana flower was rotten and we didn't even know because we'd never seen a banana flower before. You can buy pickled banana flowers at the Hong Kong market in New Haven, and if you're the sort of person dying to have some banana flower with your Pad Thai, I would go with bottled and preserved the first time. Personally I lost all taste for banana flower. I posted above a picture of a healthy one just so you have some idea what I'm talking about. It should be white and tender, not black and mushy, on the inside.

In my opinion this recipe just isn't any good without Chinese garlic chives. You can see a picture of one in my post below about Burritos. Chinese garlic chives feel and look sort of like super-long scallions but taste and smell like garlic. They're great. Unfortunately you can only buy them in huge quantities. Just chop them up and wash them and use them in omelettes or burritos or something. Or compost them. Or make a lot of Pad Thai. It was a big hit in the household today; Doug has obviously acquired a serious affinity for tamarind concentrate.

Peanuts make a big difference in the texture of this dish. We didn't have any today and I thought it lacked sophistication without it. It's just hard to find peanuts that aren't oiled, cooked, and salted, and I think those don't go so well with pad thai. Or with my taste buds—they remind me of airplanes.

I think, however, you could successfully get away with leaving out the egg. Then it would be vegan, but everyone would be so distracted by the weird flavors of tamarind and rotting banana flower that they wouldn't ever notice.

Pad Thai

1/2 lime
4 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce (I like Yamasa)
3 cloves garlic, minced
fresh ground pepper, white pepper's also good
1 shallot, minced
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons tamarind concentrate (I like Tamcon)
1/2 package large wide Thai rice noodles
1/2 —1 package medium or firm tofu, drained and cubed or julienned
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 banana flower
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon ground dried chili pepper
1 1/2 Cup Chinese green garlic chives, cut into 1 inch lengths
2 Tablespoons peanuts (unsalted, unroasted)
1 1/3 Cup bean sprouts
1 Tablespoon preserved turnip (I don't really know what this is)

1. Break noodles in half and place them in a heat-proof bowl. Pour boiling water over them to cover and let them sit until almost tender. Drain.
2. Toast peanuts and remove. In a wide frypan saute shallot, garlic, and tofu until brown. Add tamarind, sugar, soy sauce, chili pepper, and turnip. Add noodles. Stir. Push noodles to the side and crack and into the empty space. Scramble it and fold into noodles. Add Chinese chives and half of bean sprouts. Stir a few more times. Noodles should be soft and tangled.
3. Serve sprinkled with peanuts, banana flower sliced lengthwise and rubbed with citrus juice, wedges of lime, and raw bean sprouts.

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