from one generation to the next
The taste of Thai food is characterised by hot, sweet, salty, and sour flavours. In the correct proportions they make your palate dance. An hour ago I ate this Pad Thai and my palate is still dancing a chilli, lime, tamarind and prawn paste samba!
Minimal perishable ingredients are used in this dish, a telltale sign that it has origins as traditional street food that is cheap and super quick to prepare.
Every Thai restaurant in Melbourne serves their own interpretation of Pad Thai. Most I find too sweet and too oily. Cooking the rice noodles at home I can eliminate these shortcomings, and while my version is probably not strictly Thai, it’s a fairly convincing facsimile.
200g flat rice noodles
30g blachan (fermented shrimp paste)
1 chicken breast
200g can shrimps or 6 green prawns
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 spring onion, green tops only
200g bean shoots
2 tablespoons peanut oil
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/4 cup stock or water
1 tablespoon extra crushed peanuts
50g extra bean shoots
Put the noodles into a large bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients.
Finely slice the chicken, shell and devein the prawns and cut each into three pieces.
Wash the spring onion tops and cut into 5 cm lengths.
Prepare the sauce by mixing all the ingredients together.
Heat your wok until smoking add the oil and the crumbled blachan. Fry for a few minutes, then add the chicken and prawns. Stir fry briefly, then add the spring onion and peanuts. Add the egg to one side and cook into a puffy omelette. Roughly break up the cooked egg, then add the drained noodles and the sauce ingredients. Continue to cook over a high heat until all the sauce is absorbed, tossing the ingredients frequently. Add the bean shoots, toss to combine.
Serve the noodles. Garnish with extra spring onion pieces, peanuts, beanshoots and lime wedges. Serves 2
* Tamarind trees grow commonly throughout Asia. The fruit is very fibrous and contains many pips. Tamarind paste can be bought ready prepared, in jars, but you can also buy the fruit, including seeds, dried and compressed into blocks. The pulp needs to be broken up into small pieces, soaked in warm water for about 10 minutes, massaged in the figures to separate the seeds then passed through a fine mesh strainer. Strained tamarind paste is what you require for this recipe. It imparts a characteristic sourness.