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story.lead_photo.caption Pad Thai with shrimp

If you think about Thai food -- which is something I do with alarming regularity -- the Thai food you think about first is probably Pad Thai.

That is as it should be.

Pad Thai is probably most Americans' introduction to Thai cuisine, an authentic street food that is easily accessible to the American palate.

It's got noodles, it's got shrimp (or chicken or pork or tofu), it's got peanuts and eggs. It's a little bit tart, a little bit sweet. It can be spicy, too, but it doesn't have to be.

It's basically everything you want on a single plate, topped off with a squeeze or two of lime.

Most of the ingredients for the following recipe are available at most supermarkets, but sourcing tamarind and sweet radish will require a trip to your nearest international market.

Pad Thai is a stir-fry, which means it all comes together quickly. For that reason, it is imperative to have all of your ingredients at hand before you begin.

Mine probably took less than 15 minutes to cook. It had just enough egg, just enough tamarind, just enough shrimp, just enough noodles and possibly not quite enough garlic.

But it was good. It was awfully good. I suspect it would be welcomed from Kanchanaburi all the way over to Ubon Ratchathani.

Pad Thai

4 ounces dried flat rice noodles (or 8 ounces fresh)

4 ounces extra-firm tofu

1/2 small red onion, sliced thin

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon tamarind paste (see note)

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably peanut oil, divided use

1/4 pound peeled and deveined shrimp OR boneless chicken or combination of both

1 tablespoon sweet radish, finely chopped, optional

2 eggs

3 green onions, sliced into 2-inch lengths

1 1/2 cups bean sprouts, plus more for garnish, if desired

3 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed or finely chopped, plus more for garnish

Lime wedges

Crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper, optional

As with all stir-fries, it is vital to have all the ingredients prepared and ready before you start to cook.

Soak the noodles in warm water until soft, about 10 minutes. Wrap tofu in paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Mix together tamarind paste, fish sauce, brown sugar and 1/4 cup water. If water is listed as the first ingredient of tamarind pulp, use 1/4 cup of the pulp and leave out the 1/4 cup of water. Stir until thoroughly dissolved. Set aside. Cut tofu into bite-sized cubes.

Place a wok or large skillet on high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Stir fry shrimp and/or chicken until done and remove with a slotted spoon. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the wok or skillet, allow to get hot, and add tofu cubes, sliced red onion and garlic. Stir fry until tofu is browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add noodles and reserved sauce made from tamarind paste and fish sauce. Add minced sweet radish, if using. Stir fry until noodles can be easily cut, about 2 to 3 minutes. If sauce is sticking to pan, add 2 tablespoons water at a time and stir to loosen it and incorporate it into the sauce.

Push mixture to one side of the wok or pan. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to the cleared side of the wok or pan, if needed. Crack eggs into the cleared side of the wok or pan and allow to cook undisturbed until they are half-cooked. Then, mix together with other ingredients in the wok or pan until scrambled.

Return shrimp and/or chicken to the pan and stir to mix together. Add sliced spring onions, bean sprouts and the 3 tablespoons peanuts. Cook a few minutes, stirring. Serve with lime wedge. On the side of the plate, serve with more chopped peanuts, bean sprouts and small piles of crushed pepper or cayenne pepper, if desired.

Makes 2 servings.

Notes: Tamarind paste is available at Asian and international markets. You can also find tamarind pulp, either frozen or not. Sweet radish is also available at Asian and international markets.

Adapted from recipes by Seonkyoung Longest, Palin Chongchitnant and Cooking with Poo

Food on 04/03/2019

Print Headline: Cook most common Thai dish in your own pad

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