The key to a successful Thai cooking experience is to prepare everything before you start cooking. Food is cooked quickly at high temperature, so you don't want to be trying to peel garlic while your onions burn.
Mark helped me prep the meal. We diced, sliced, grated and cleaned up. Here are the ingredients we used:
- 1 cluster of broccoli (not a whole BUNCH)
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 tiny zucchini
- 1 spike of celery
- 2 tiny peppers (I don't think they are the Thai green ones, but you can get these in the normal grocery store)
- 2 carrots
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- 1 pound white asparagus
- Some left over diced mushrooms
- 6 spikes of garlic
- 1 onion
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 2 fish fillets and one chicken breast cubed
- Half a package of rice noodles
Before dicing, slicing and grating
Rice noodles must soak in hot water (the package says hot tap water, I use cold water that has been heated on the stove) for 15 minutes. Set this up first so that the noodles are softened for the frying stage. Do not over soak, you will end up with gummy Pad Thai.
1) First I cut off the bottom inch of each spike
2) Next, I peeled the lower half of the vegetable
3) Finally, I cut it into bite-sized chunks
First, I sautéed the onions on high in olive oil. Next, I added 1 tablespoon of rosemary, diced peppers and the diced garlic. After about 60 seconds, I threw in some cilantro and added dashed of soy sauce.
When the spice mixture was looking good, I tossed in the meat and fish. I added more soy sauce and covered to simmer for a bit.
I began adding in the veggies (longer cooking ones first) and threw in sauces for fun. Thai food often has fish sauce, but there is none in the house, so I used shrimp paste instead. Also in the mix: lime juice, red pepper paste, green curry paste, Thai red pepper sauce.
When the meats looked cooked, I tasted the sauce and added more spicy pepper paste and an extra spoonful of shrimp paste.
Finally, I added the softened noodles and fried the mixture for about 5 more minutes. For fun, I threw in a spoonful of peanut butter.
Note: I left 1/2 my cilantro and all the grated carrots and chopped peanuts out of the mix.
Meanwhile behind me, Mark set the table, decanted the wine, made a pitcher of ice water, and lit the candles on the table.
I serve Pad Thai Nicole Sauce Style (read: larger portion and Americanized) in a large bowl with fresh garnishes. Today, since we were out of bean sprouts, we garnished only with grated carrots, cilantro and ground peanuts.
Quote from Mark: "The thing that is so good about Pad Thai is the interplay between the fresh vegetables and the cooked ones."