Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The REAL Authentic Pad Thai

If you haven't already noticed, I'll just confess...

I'm obsessed with Thai food and really hot Woks.

Have you ever tried Thai food?

Thai curry? The red, yellow, green, panang or massaman? How about Holy Basil Rice, Cashew Nut Chicken, Sticky Rice with Mango (OMG), Green Papaya Salad?

Ok, about Pad Thai? So many people love Pad Thai, but unfortunately I'd bet my best brownie recipe that 90% of them have never really tried the real thing.

North Americans have sadly butchered Pad Thai. You can even tell by looking at it.

Pad Thai should not be red. That's the sign of a fake one. It should never contain tomato, ketchup, chili sauce, chili paste or curry paste. It also should not contain any sort of bell pepper, such as the red or green variety.

No No No.   NO.

Pad Thai is simple, but it's so well balanced. It's delicious. I learned how to make it in Thailand. See?

Here's rule #1 - it must contain tamarind and fish sauce.

Rule #2 - it must contain bean sprouts and garlic chives or green onions.

Rule #3 - it must be served with lime, chili flakes and ground peanuts.

I know, that's a lot of rules. But creating good authentic food needs order. Order that's not in the sequence of 1, 3, 2, which is how I originally laid out the rules in this post. Oops.

The thing I can let you get away with is the Palm Sugar.

Palm sugar is typically sold in dry, puck form. I use coconut palm sugar and it has a very tart and somewhat floral sweetness, similar to honey. It's totally worth searching for, but if you can't find it, you can replace it with 1 tablespoon of amber honey. I'll let that slide.

The dried shrimps are also optional. I understand that some people might not like them, and so I can let that one go too since the fish sauce kinda makes up for it. They do add extra meatiness and umami, though.

The pickled radish, well that's one of my favourite parts, but unfortunately they're terribly difficult to find in NA, so we'll have to part with them.

So are we all clear now?


Let's make Pad Thai.

OH! And, you need a wok! A really good one that gets very hot! It makes all the difference in the flavour of Thai cooking.

I received this Carbon Steel wok from CSN Stores. It's by Taylor & NG and it works very nicely!

It comes with a factory coating to prevent rusting during shipment, and that takes a bit of elbow grease and flame to remove. But once you've got that under your belt, it needs a couple of seasonings with neutral cooking oil and you're all aces.

It becomes non-stick after only 3 seasonings and it heats up super fast.

I'm very pleased with it and can't wait to make many, many more Thai dishes in it. If you've never cooked with a wok, don't fret because this one comes with everything you need, including a dome cover, a pair of chopsticks, bamboo spatula, stainless steel spatula and a steaming/frying rack.

You're all set!

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