Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lunch Week 24: Shrimp Pad Thai

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch the next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it every week unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided.

So my lunch for the week: Pad Thai
Back to Asian cuisine this week. This time I'm channeling the flavors of Thailand with pad thai. It's a mix of sweet, sour, and salty with lots of vegetables, some shrimp, and long rice noodles.
First the noodles. I like to purchase the dry rice noodles as opposed to fresh ones mainly because they last longer. They may be found in any Asian supermarket. It may be labeled for pho which is a Vietnamese rice noodle dish but the noodles themselves are very similar. To prep the noodles, soak them in a large bowl with warm/hot water. Let sit for about 30 minutes until it becomes pliable.
While the noodles soak, prep the rest of your ingredients which will be mainly vegetables. Here I have the sauce (tamarind concentrate, soy sauce, water, brown sugar, red chili flakes), chopped garlic, smoked tofu, beaten eggs, sliced yellow onions, shredded carrots, and sliced scallions.
And here is my presoaked rice noodles which I also washed and drained, some pea shoot leaves, shrimp, and bean sprouts.
Since I make a large quantity of this dish, I had to use my biggest pot. However, if you're making just a single serving or just a few, please use a saute pan or a wok. They will give you the best results.

I started off by sauteing each and every ingredient and salted at every step. First the eggs, then shrimp, then garlic, onions and scallions together, then carrots, tofu, bean sprouts, and leafy greens. Lastly, I added the sauce into the pot and boiled it until it became thick. I added the noodles so that they would absorb the flavor the most. After the noodles cooked for a little bit (about 3 minutes), then I added all the ingredients back knot the pot making sure to mix thoroughly. Take off the heat and you're finished. Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of the cooking process. But don't you worry, I made pad thai previously for my weekly lunch. You may find that post here.
For accompaniments, I chopped up some cilantro for freshness, limes for an extra citrusy tang, and peanuts for crunch (not pictured). You may omit any of this if you wish but I think it's quite essential to the finished product.
When I reheated this at work in the microwave, the noodles did become softer than I would have liked. But luckily, the peanuts added a really nice crunch. As for flavor, this was much more tangy than the last version which I enjoyed. That missing flavor was finally fulfilled and I believe it's from the tamarind concentrate. Funny enough, none of the recipes ask for peanut butter which a lot of people believe is in pad thai. I guess some people started using it as a substitute to tamarind (myself included) although they do not taste alike.

My version of pad thai was adapted from the epicurious recipe below:

Vegetarian Pad Thai
Gourmet | December 2007

12 ounces dried flat rice noodles (1/4 inch wide; sometimes called pad Thai or banh pho)
3 tablespoons tamarind (from a pliable block)
1 cup boiling-hot water
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Sriracha (Southeast Asian chile sauce)
1 bunch scallions
4 large shallots
1 (14- to 16-ounce) package firm tofu
1 1/2 cups peanut or vegetable oil
6 large eggs
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups bean sprouts (1/4 pound)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer; a well-seasoned 14-inch flat-bottomed wok
Accompaniments: lime wedges; cilantro sprigs; Sriracha

Soak noodles in a large bowl of warm water until softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain well in a colander and cover with a dampened paper towel.

Meanwhile, make sauce by soaking tamarind pulp in boiling-hot water in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Force mixture through a sieve into a bowl, discarding seeds and fibers. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, and Sriracha, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

Cut scallions into 2-inch pieces. Halve pale green and white parts lengthwise.

Cut shallots crosswise into very thin slices with slicer.

Rinse tofu, then cut into 1-inch cubes and pat very dry.

Heat oil in wok over medium heat until hot, then fry half of shallots over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden-brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Carefully strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl. Reserve shallot oil and spread fried shallots on paper towels. (Shallots will crisp as they cool.) Wipe wok clean.

Reheat shallot oil in wok over high heat until hot. Fry tofu in 1 layer, gently turning occasionally, until golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer tofu to paper towels using a slotted spoon. Pour off frying oil and reserve.

Lightly beat eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat 2 tablespoons shallot oil in wok over high heat until it shimmers. Add eggs and swirl to coat side of wok, then cook, stirring gently with a spatula, until cooked through. Break into chunks with spatula and transfer to a plate.

Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly. Pour in 6 tablespoons shallot oil, then swirl to coat side of wok. Stir-fry scallions, garlic, and remaining uncooked shallots until softened, about 1 minute.

Add noodles and stir-fry over medium heat (use 2 spatulas if necessary) 3 minutes. Add tofu, bean sprouts, and 1 1/2 cups sauce and simmer, turning noodles over to absorb sauce evenly, until noodles are tender, about 2 minutes.

Stir in additional sauce if desired, then stir in eggs and transfer to a large shallow serving dish.

Sprinkle pad Thai with peanuts and fried shallots and serve with lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, and Sriracha.


  1. I like the addition of shrimp.

    And I could use some Pho now. Ha.

  2. It looks wonderful on photos! Recipe is good also, i like the combination.

  3. There is no soy sauce in pad thai

    1. Just following the recipe. You should let Gourmet know.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.