02 July 2009

Tofu and Shrimp Pad Thai

I probably could have left the shrimp out of this batch of pad thai, but I had leftover cooked shrimp that needed a culinary destination so really, what began as tofu pad thai became tofu pad thai with a bit of shrimp.

Pad thai is one of those dishes that just plain misses the mark in many restaurants. Either there's too much flavor, too little flavor, or the whole pile is a mess of overcooked, rubbery noodles (or some combination of these factors: inexplicably I once had takeout that was both tasteless and overseasoned, and I still can't figure out what went wrong there).

Two weeks after catching an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay in our hotel room, I finally got around to making pad thai, and it turned out better than ever, most likely because I had been *dying* to get back into my kitchen after ten days on the road.

Pad Thai Sauce
4 tbl. tamarind concentrate
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 cup water

1. Mix all ingredients together over medium low heat, carefully stirring to remove any brown sugar clumps and to discourage sticking. Allow sauce to thicken (about forty minutes) and then remove from heat.

If you've never made your own sauce before, the result is a fresher, more flavorful taste (not to mention more economical) than the store-bought packets I see a lot of people purchasing at the grocery store, and unlike in a restaurant setting, you control the ingredients that make it tart, sweet, etc.

I like to round up my ingredients for the stir fry portion of the meal beforehand, since once you get going the steps move at a rapid rate.

Tofu and Shrimp

Scallions, chopped dried red chilies, cilantro, garlic and lime wedges

Pad Thai

6 oz. flat rice noodles
2 tbsp. olive oil (or vegetable oil), divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp. chopped dried red chilies
2 tsp. scallions (white parts only)
2 eggs, scrambled
8 oz. tofu, pressed to release water
Handful of cooked or leftover shrimp, cut into bite size pieces
1 recipe Pad Thai Sauce (above)
Handful of bean sprouts
Handful of chopped peanuts
3 tbl. cilantro, chopped
2 lime wedges
1-2 tbl. scallions (green parts only)

1. Soak rice noodles in lukewarm water for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. In a wok or heavy skillet, heat 1 tsp. oil over medium heat and add garlic, red chilies and scallions. Stir until aromatic.
2a. Heat another tbsp. oil in a small skillet and add eggs, scrambling until set. NOTE: I have labeled this step 2a because sometimes I throw the eggs directly into the pan, right before the pad thai sauce. You're call.
3. Add shrimp and tofu. Cook for one minute.
4. Add pad thai sauce and stir to combine. Fold in scrambled eggs.
5. Add the noodles to the pan and heat through.
6. Serve immediately and garnish with peanuts, cilantro, bean sprouts, green scallion tops and a lime wedge.

Ian's portion (generously delivered to him for his work dinner break)


The Cooking Photographer said...

Ian's portion made me laugh! Pad thai is good food when done right, you are on the mark there. I'm saving this one too.

Sophie said...

ooo... i am a tofu super fan! sigh. i want the mapo tofu soooooo badly right now. with rice.

Here I bought a sauce pack so as to skip all the seasonings! and i will try this friday after work.