One of my favourite weekday meals is Pad Thai (actually its one of my favourite meals any day of the week) - google it and you'll find a plethora of recipes. A good pad thai can be cooked in 5 minutes, and is the just the right heavenly mix of salty (from the fish sauce), sweet (from the sugar), spicy (from the chillies) and sour (from the tamarind and lime).
Before you start to cook the pad thai, have everything chopped and ready to go. I like to keep my pad thai simple and I only ever cook one or two servings at a time, so that the wok stays really hot. I made the pad thai sauce earlier this week and popped into a big jar in the fridge, and it will keep for a few months - though never that long in my house, as I use it up fairly quickly. I like prawns in my pad thai, but I also find it great for using up leftovers, so will pop shredded cooked chicken, and random vegetables in there (particularly for the kids). One of my biggest gripes about stirfrying is that the pan has to be so hot, the garlic and shallots can burn and become bitter, so here's a quick tip, pop the garlic and shallots into cold oil and then put the pan on to heat - as the oil heats, the garlic and onion will infuse flavour into it without burning.
Pad thai sauce
- 1/2 cup tamarind concentrate (the runny stuff in a jar)
- 1/2 cup palm sugar
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
Pop tamarind sauce, palm sugar and fish sauce into a pot and heat over medium heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Pop into the fridge.
- 5 tablespoons pad thai sauce (or to taste, if you like it more saucy, pop more in)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, or 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon chile powder (or to taste)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup chopped spring onions
- 1/2 cup beansprouts
- 200 grams prawns, peeled and deveined
- 200 grams rice noodles
- chopped peanuts
- 1 lime, halved
- coriander to garnish (not traditional, but yum)
- chopped chillies to garnish
- Soak the rice noodles in warm (not hot) water for 10 - 15 minutes. You're looking for the rice noodles to free up, but still be fairly firm. It's better to undersoak then oversoak, as you can add water to the wok to cook the noodles more if needed
- Put oil, garlic and shallots into a cold wok, or pan, and heat to a high heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the drained noodles, pad thai sauce, chile powder and prawns
- Stir constantly over a high heat for a few minutes until noodles soften and prawns are cooked.
- Push noodles to the side and break in the eggs, scramble with the stirrer and when almost cooked, pop the noodles on top of the egg to finish off the cooking (about 1 to 2 minutes)
- Add beansprouts and spring onions and stir for another minute, serve with a squeeze of lime, and garnish with peanuts, coriander and chopped chillies.