My mum arrived from Brisbane this week for her annual summer visit to Victoria, where her four sisters live. Thus, on Wednesday night, she and next-sibling-up Carol turned up at our house for dinner. First up was lots of chatter, the exchange of a few Christmas and birthday gifts, and a brief tour of the flat. Next was Pad Thai! Though it's probably considered one of the less adventurous options on a Thai takeaway menu, it's one of my favourites and almost always available meat-free. I love the textural variety of silky salty noodles, crunchy veges, crushed peanuts and a squeeze of sour lime over the top. On a good day tofu adds an extra smooth-but-chewy mouthfeel.
And this was such a day! Michael and I chopped the veges and prepared the sauce before our guests arrived, and the subsequent wok-work doesn't take hosts from guests for too long. Setting out the wok, bean sprouts, coriander and peanuts for everyone to serve themselves allowed for the wildly differing appetites and fondness for coriander amongst us. While the sauce was just right for our audience, I'll probably increase the quantity next time round: it has a stronger chilli-tamarind kick than the most of the takeaways I've eaten.
(adapted from the recipe at this website)
375g rice stick noodles
1/3 cup peanut oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
250g firm tofu, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketjap manis
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sambal ulek/chilli paste
a handful of green beans, trimmed and sliced bite-size
1 large carrot, sliced into matchsticks
1 red capsicum, sliced
3 shallots, sliced
2 big handfuls of bean sprouts
1 handful roasted peanuts
Fresh coriander to garnish
In a large saucepan or heat-proof bowl, pour boiling water over the noodles, stir, and then cover for up to 10 minutes. When the noodles are soft, drain them in a colander.
Whisk together the tamarind, soy sauce, ketjap manis, sugar and sambal ulek in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the wok and add a bit of the oil. Pour in the eggs and swish them around to form a thin omlette. Flip over when it's holding together and lightly browned on the underside. It doesn't matter if it breaks, just that it's cooked through. Transfer the omlette to a plate and slice into small wide ribbons.
Pour the remainder of the oil into the wok and then add the tofu. Stir it continuously until the outside is crisp and golden. After a few minutes, remove the tofu onto absorbant paper, and pour all but two tablespoons of the oil out of the wok.
Next into the wok are the noodles. Try to evenly coat them in oil, then introduce the sauce that you mixed and set aside. Add the beans, carrot, capsicum, shallots and tofu, stirring until just heated through but still fresh and crunchy.
Serve the noodles topped with bean sprouts, peanuts and coriander.