It all happened purely by chance, really. We’ve been watching Good Eats fairly regularly the past several months. It’s one of the few cooking shows we can both really get behind. We love the historical and anecdotal nature of Alton’s lessons as well as the scientific insight he offers. And his quirky, playful sense of humor is just an added bonus.
We recently watched an episode entitled “Your Pad or Mine (Thai).” (See where I get it?) We were really excited about it because Pad Thai is our favorite takeout food. At $30 a pop for takeout, being able to make it at home sounded like a great alternative. Aside from a few watered-down, Americanized attempts at “stir fry” and one very decent Cook’s Illustrated recipe (pictured below), I had never really attempted Asian cuisine. (I have always wanted to, but never took the time to seek out the proper ingredients and equipment.) After watching the show, Brian and I talked about how great it would be to make Pad Thai, and then we promptly forgot about it and went on with our lives as usual.
On a side note, I am really appreciating my new phone’s ability to pull up recipes when I am at the grocery store and decide to make something on a whim. I never could have recalled mung bean sprouts, preserved cabbage, tamarind paste, and palm sugar (among other ingredients) without it!
While we were there we picked up an inexpensive wok and chopsticks (not Thai, I realize, but this wasn’t a Thai market either). We finally got home after a couple more grocery-store stops. (Is it ridiculous that it takes 2 or 3 different stores to find all of our groceries, even when we’re not making Pad Thai?) I was still on a bit of a high from the market experience and, of course, couldn’t wait to start cooking!
With Alton’s recipe to guide me, I went straight to work:
First the tofu is quickly fried, then removed, and set aside (1 – 2 minutes).
Then spring onions and garlic are cooked for about 30 seconds.
Then the eggs for about 30 seconds.
Then noodles, sauce, cabbage, shrimp, bean sprouts, and peanuts, with a quick toss between each addition.
The tofu is tossed back in for about a minute.
Then it’s plated and garnished with spring onions, bean sprouts, peanuts, and freshly ground dried red chili pepper.
Our second attempt a couple of nights later definitely went more smoothly, since I had a little experience. We added chicken and halved the amount of tofu, dicing it the way they do at our favorite Thai takeout places. If you try this version, be sure to cook the chicken first and remove it from the pan before frying the tofu. I tried to add the tofu when the chicken had about a minute left to cook. The tofu was just getting warmed through and wasn’t getting that nice sear on the edges. I ended up taking them both out of the pan, separating them, and frying the tofu by itself.