Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pork Pad Thai

Maybe some of you can relate. Maybe some of you know what I am talking about. Sometimes your life is consumed with work and tight schedules that doesn't allow for substantial cooking time. Or you are too tired to make the effort to cook late at night.

Sometimes my work schedule doesn't allow for my style of cooking. I like a window of at least a few hours to braise or roast or marinate or grill. To me, thirty minutes or less calls for a sandwich or take-out or something unhealthy. I struggle to find a common ground between work schedule and adequate cooking time. I live alone so I have to plan these things and it can get difficult. Well, whatever, enough excuses, lets cook anyway.

Another dilemma is my respect for certain dishes, cuisines I like so much I don't dare to make and try on my own, you know, in fear of totaling screwing it up and in return, not liking it anymore. Pad Thai is one of those dishes. I first had pad thai in Portland, OR and it was amazing. Big, bold flavors, noodles, sauce, meat, vegatables, washed down with beer, fabulous!!

There are lots of variations of pad thai but despite the differences, it can be prepared and cooked fast and be a sufficient and satisfying meal.

So you get home at 8-9pm from work, you are tired and hungry and bored of frozen pizza or sandwiches, suck it up and make some Pad Thai.

If you don't prefer pork (why are you reading this then...), you can substitute shrimp, chicken, or beef....
Warm up a pot of water and add:
  • Maifun noodles-rice stick noodles
Soak in hot water for 10-20 minutes, until softened. Drain and cover, set aside.
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into strips
Combine and add to bowl with pork. Marinate for 15-20 minutes. Prepare sauce base. Combine in a bowl:
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons sugar
Stir together and set aside.

Heat a wok with 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat wok . Saute pork for a few minutes. Set aside. Add another 1 tablespoon of oil and add:
  • 3 well-beaten eggs
Cook until scrambed and remove to bowl. Reheat wok and add:
  • 1/2 cup of scallions, white parts only
  • 3 small red chiles, chopped and deseeded
  • 3 small garlic cloves, chopped
Saute for about 1-2 minutes. Add maifun noodles and stir until well coated. Add fish sauce mixture and stir well. Add pork and eggs. Stir in:
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • lime wedges, to garnish

Yes! The pad thai was very pleasing. Ok, I haven't perfected pad thai or have been cooking it the vast majority of my cooking life but it was awesome. Lot of great thai flavor. Speckled with amounts of heat and acid from the lemon and lime. 

I wouldn't dare match it to the fantastic pad thai I had in Portland many years ago but for a quick meal, late on a work night, it kicked my ass.

I love the dish for its simplicity and it has a world of potential and room for improvement. Perhaps pork belly would work well or a broth would elevate it. But this version would please many people. The cilantro and basil herbs provide a great balance to the acid and the chile peppers and dash of red pepper flakes add enough heat. I really enjoyed the maifun noodles. They are easy to cook and act as a good base to the pad thai. They don't inferfere with the other flavors and its thin noodle combines well with the ingredients.

Do it!

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