Pad Thai

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Thank you, MTV masterpiece 16 and Pregnant, for my new favorite Deep Thoughts Line in the whole universe: “Don’t take away somebody’s rodeo.”

Scene: Teenage Cowboy 1 talks to Teenage Cowboy 2 about how TC2’s pregnant girlfriend wants him to quit riding antagonized 2,000-lb beasts in light of his recent string of concussions.  As in, one brain, multiple concussions.  Womp womp, who invited Princess Funkiller from Planet NoRodeoForYou?  But he doesn’t want to quit, man, because, something about adrenaline and freedom.

TC1  says something like “Quit ridin’?  No way, man.  Don’t take away somebody’s rodeo.”  I’m not sure how deep that was supposed to be, but next thing I knew, I was giggling uncontrollably into my plate of noodles.

And what a plate of noodles it was.

Today, I’ve already (questionably) worked the reference into conversation about fantasy baseball.  To make myself laugh.  Whatever–I’m sure there’s something wrong with you too.  And I like you, because this blog is my rodeo.  Thank you for not taking away my rodeo.  XOXO.

Anyway.  FOOD.  Let’s make some noodles.  If you get to this point right here, the hardest part is done, which is finding the ingredients.  I found rice noodles, dried Thai bird’s eye chiles and tamarind paste at Whole Foods (fish sauce, I’ve had for a while–that’s definitely more widely available).  Pickled radish, as required by the original recipe, continues to evade me, but I gave it my all.

Chicken in Pad Thai isn’t totally authentic, I’ve read, but I like it in noodle dishes.  So…  I’m already on Transgression #2 according to the original recipe.

I crushed, and I chopped.  If you find Thai chiles pre-ground, that’s super.  I didn’t.

Tofu needs to be pressed before you cube it and use it…  This involves squeezing the moisture out of it by wrapping it in paper towels (several times, as they get thoroughly soaked) and perhaps a heavy object plopped on top.  Don’t be a dumb-dumb like me and use a full Brita water pitcher as the heavy object.  Sooo much potential for stuff to go wrong.

I was afraid of undercooking the chicken, so I cooked it separately and threw it in at the last minute or so.  That’s probably an unnecessary step.

SO MANY THINGS.  The prep might take a while, but the actual dish comes together quite quickly.  I had to keep the recipe handy.

Rice noodles don’t cook like wheat noodles–just throw them in a bowl with hot water and wait.  I’m into that.

Finally, we can start cooking.  Egg and shrimp (and uncooked chicken too, if you’re using it) go in first.

…Then noodles, quickly followed by sauces.  If you precooked your chicken like I did, this is a good time to add that.

Produce and some spices at last.  That happened rather quickly, and there it is: Item 2 (I’m going to lose track so quickly) of my to-do list for the year.  After the initial ingredient hunt, this dish comes together in a flash, really.  Skip the chicken and shrimp for even more simplicity.  If you have cold, light-ish beer in the fridge, now is the time.  It was brewed exactly for this kind of spicy.

Pad Thai
(recipe adapted from Epicurious/Bon Appetit Jan. 2012

8 ounces pad thai rice noodles
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg, room temperature
Small handful (about 1/4 lb) medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 skinless boneless chicken thighs, cubed (optional)
1/4 cup cubed pressed extra-firm tofu
1 cup bean sprouts
5 tablespoons tamarind water, or 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon tamarind paste mixed with 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
1 1/2 tablespoons (or more, to taste) Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons (or more, to taste) simple syrup
A few chives, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 teaspoon ground dried Thai chiles, divided (a touch more if you prefer your food spicy–I used probably 3/4 tsp.)
2 tablespoons crushed roasted, unsalted peanuts, divided
Lime wedges and cilantro (optional), for serving

In a large bowl, pour hot water over the rice noodles and let them soak until tender, 5-10 minutes.  Drain and set them aside.

In a small bowl, combine tamarind water, fish sauce and simple syrup.

Heat vegetable oil in a wok, or a large skillet or pot, over medium-high heat. Crack in the egg and cook for 30 seconds.  Add chicken and shrimp if you’re using them, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp and chicken are almost cooked through, about 3 minutes or so. Toss in tofu and cook for another 30 seconds, then add the noodles and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or so. Stir in sprouts, followed by tamarind/sauce/syrup mixture.  Continue cooking for another minute or so, stirring to coat noodles in the sauce. Stir in chives, followed by half of the dried chiles and half of the peanuts.

Transfer to serving plates and serve topped with remaining chiles and peanuts, as well as some fresh cilantro if you’re using it, with lime wedges on the side.  Serves about 3.

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  1. says

    My father-in-law says, “This ain’t my first rodeo,” as in, “I got it. I’m not stupid. Done it before.”
    But, “Don’t take away somebody’s rodeo”???
    Consider it part of my current day vocabulary. (Which I am desperately trying to update, since I keep resorting to phrases like, “that Rocks”, “it’s the bomb”, and “Fo’ shizzle”).
    Somebody caught me in their time-freeze ray gun.
    Help me. . . .
    Oh, and good work. Item number 2 – Check.
    Proud of your persistence :)

    • Danguole says

      I’ve definitely heard of “this ain’t my first rodeo,” but this gem was new to me! Something about rodeos gives things deep, deep meaning.

      Also, your vocabulary is perfectly fine! Rock on, fo’ shizzle.

  2. says

    Holy moly, this sounds amazing. This is, in fact, the kind of culinary rodeo I would love to attend. And as someone who has been known to quote “Mean Girls” on a too-regular basis on my blog, I appreciate the dash of trashy pop culture thrown in the mix.

    • Danguole says

      Haha, I’m glad you support my trash TV habits! Also, every blog could be made better with more Mean Girls quoting. Every single one.