This is my second version of pad thai and I have discarded the first. Most of my effort on pad thai has been to get the sauce just right and to avoid screwing up the noodles. Use Kosher salt just a bit when sautéeing the vegetables. I don't show that here, but it's sort of a natural thing to do. I do not salt my food heavily when I cook, however (a habit left over from residing in France for so many years).
You can replace the meat with tofu, of course. For the fish sauce, good luck, you're on your own there. It's an important flavor component (even though undetectable as such by your palate).
Serves 8-10 people.
|½ cup||packed brown sugar (4 tbsp)|
|½ cup||fish sauce|
|½ cup||tamarind concentrate (please see note below)|
|4 tbsp||soy sauce|
|4 tbsp||juice of 1 fresh lime juice|
|¼ tsp||crushed red pepper flakes (or more/less to taste) or sriracha; this is optional—depends on who's eating at your table.|
|—||sauce (see above)|
|14 oz||package of rice noodles (often called rice sticks, not as wide as fettucine, but wider than linguine)|
|3 tbsp||oil, divided|
|1½-2 lb||boneless skinless meat (pork shoulder is very yummy), thinly sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces (freeze for 60-90 minutes then slice very thin at an angle sawing down toward the cutting board away from you)|
|4 cloves||garlic, minced (or a big shallot)|
|1||onion cut into small crescents (top to bottom)|
|red onion cut very finely (not very much)|
|2 cups||bean sprouts|
|1 cup||shredded carrots|
|6||scallions, sliced into 1-inch pieces|
|½ small head||purple cabbage, sliced very finely|
|—||toppings: chopped peanuts, lime wedges|
Make the sauce. Use a wok for everything else in batches setting the batch aside for the next batch of ingredients. Combine them at the end for serving.
1. Do not cook the noodles according to any instructions. 30-45 minutes ahead of begging the wok work, immerse them in cold or room-temperature water to soak. This way they will not reduce to mush or get sticky!
2. Sautée the meat in small batches on high heat until cooked through, remove from wok. If you crown the wok too much, the meat will braise. The easiest way to slice meat thin is to put it into the freezer for 60-90 minutes, then slice it pushing it diagonally away from you into thin slices. Cold, it will be firmer and easier to control.
3. Sautée garlic to bloom and the onion slices (not the red onion). Render the onion until becoming transparent.
4. Sautée the bean sprouts. Do not over-cook (2-3 minutes).
5. Sautée the carrots (2-3 minutes), then finally cabbage, scallions and the red onion bits, remove from wok (1 more minute tossing). (Do not over-cook any of this.)
6. Oil and swirl the wok to coat it all the way up the side, pour in the eggs and swirl until nearly firm, remove from heat and cover for a few seconds until just barely done. Roll up the egg in the wok. Remove and cut into strips or smaller pieces. Set aside.
7. Add more oil to the pan, get it very hot. Add the noodles and toss for a bit to warm them. Add the sauce and toss. Add the meat and onions and toss. Add the bean sprouts and toss. Disperse all onto a large patter for serving. Then spread the vegetables out on top, followed by the egg and the crushed peanuts. Serve hot.