Another Friday lunch has come and passed here at Media-X, and this week the team (led by masterchef Yvonne and her sous-chef Michael) decided to do something a little different for our famished staff. Yvonne always enjoys experimenting with flavors, and earlier this week was telling me about a dessert she’d made for her family: Deep fried milk.
My initial thought brought me back to my days working in a restaurant, and I imagined a clumsy chef (such as myself) accidentally spilling the cooking cream into the deep fryer (this would likely have relatively disastrous results). After seeing the look of utter confusion on my face, she explained it was a type of coconut custard which was battered and then deep fried. I was sold at the word coconut, so I anxiously awaited Friday to get a taste for myself.
To compliment her delicate dessert, she opted for a dish which would provide a little bit of sweet and heat: Pad Thai. Despite the fact that Yvonne was born about as far away from Southeast Asia as you can get, she has a knack for cooking the cuisine of this area; with dishes such as coconut and lemongrass soup (aka Tom Kha) and shrimp paste curries in her repertoire. While a few of our staff had reservations upon first seeing the completed dish, those quickly dissolved as soon when they took their first bite. The deep fried milk was also a major hit, and I think I could have eaten the whole tray if my stomach (and heart) could have handled it.
I was lucky enough to visit Thailand a few years ago, and in my opinion, the food I ate there was some of the best in the world. While walking through the streets of downtown Chiang Mai, I found countless street vendors mixing their pad thai and pad kra pao on giant hot plate stands. Each vendor would claim that their’s was the best in the north of Thailand, and my friend and I happily obliged most of them by sampling their goods. In some cases we would be asked odd questions such as “Would you prefer it with chicken or meat?”, but while there may have been a language barrier, there was certainly no flavor barrier.
Pad Thai is actually originally a Vietnamese dish, which it is said was brought by traders into the ancient Thai city of Ayuthaya (thanks Wikipedia) Nowadays, it is one of the most well known and popular dishes from the country formerly known as Siam, and is enjoyed by the masses on every continent.
Below is Yvonne’s Pad Thai recipe which she cooked for us lucky folk today.
ทานให้อร่อยนะ! (Bon Appetit!)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: Serves 2-3 people
- 9 oz./250 g. Pad Thai rice noodles
- 10-12 medium raw shrimp, shells removed
- 1 boneless chicken breast or 1-2 thighs, chopped up into small pieces
- 1.5 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 fresh red or green chilies (to taste), finely sliced
- 1 tsp. grated galangal OR ginger
- 4 green onions, sliced (keep white separate from green)
- 1 egg
- 2-3 cups bean sprouts
- 1/3 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
- 2-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil for stir-frying
- lime wedges for serving
Pad Thai Sauce:
- 1/3 cup good-tasting chicken stock
- 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar OR white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- 3-4 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- Place chopped chicken in a bowl and toss with soy sauce (1.5 Tbsp). Set aside. Combine ‘Pad Thai Sauce’ ingredients together in a cup, stirring to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dunk in rice noodles and switch off heat. Allow noodles to soak approximately 6 minutes, OR until soft enough to bend easily, but still firm and ‘undercooked’ by regular standards (this is key to good pad Thai; noodles will finish cooking when you stir-fry them later). Drain and rinse noodles briefly with cold water to keep from sticking. Set aside.
- Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the oil and swirl around, then add the garlic, chili, galangal/ginger, and the white parts of the green onion (reserve green tops for later). Stir-fry 1 minute.
- Add marinated chicken and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, continuing to stir-fry until they turn pink and chicken is opaque (2-3 minutes). When pan becomes dry, add 1-2 Tbsp. of the pad Thai sauce – just enough to keep ingredients frying nicely.
- Using your spatula or cooking utensil, push ingredients to the side of the pan (if pan is dry, drizzle in a little oil). Crack egg into center and stir-fry quickly to scramble. Then add noodles plus 3-4 Tbsp. of the pad Thai sauce. Using two utensils, lift and turn noodles to stir-fry with other ingredients. Continue in this way, adding more sauce every minute or two, until all has been added and the noodles are chewy-delicious and a little bit sticky (8-10 minutes).
- Take 1 more minute to gently fold in the bean sprouts (they will soften down into the heat of the noodles while remaining crispy). Remove from heat and taste-test, adding more fish sauce until desired taste is achieved (I usually end up adding 1-2 Tbsp). Portion out onto individual plates and add a lime wedge on the side. Top with remaining green onion and a small heap of chopped/ground nuts. ENJOY!