Cooking Authentic Pad Thai with To (Litsamay Micona)

A few weeks ago I told my workout groups about making Pad Thai for my family and how delicious it was. My client, To, from Laos, was quick to suggest that my recipe was not the traditional way she would make Pad Thai and offered to show me with a hands-on cooking lesson. I quickly jumped at the opportunity, and this weekend learned a very great recipe from a native expert in this type of cuisine.

 Begin with fresh ingredients, most of which can be purchased at any asian grocery store

Begin with fresh ingredients, most of which can be purchased at any asian grocery store

Ingredients:

4-5 garlic cloves, chopped fine

3-4 whole shallots, sliced thinly

Olive oil

Tamarind (wet, seedless, in package)

Dried shrimp (tiny, in package)

Grated palm sugar 2-3 Tblsp (or more to taste)

Salt, pepper, paprika 1 Tsp each

Fish sauce 2-3 Tsp

Pad Thai Style Rice Noodles (vacuum packed & soft, just need to be rinsed)

Eggs (2)

Choice of protein (Prawns, Tofu, or Chicken)

Bean sprouts

Chives

Garnish with fresh squeezed limes and roasted, shelled, ground peanuts

 Saute the garlic, and shallots first in the olive oil, then add rinsed and drained, dried shrimp

Saute the garlic, and shallots first in the olive oil, then add rinsed and drained, dried shrimp

Prep the dried shrimp, by soaking them in a bowl of water for at least an hour. This takes some of the saltiness out of the shrimp. When you are ready to add the dried shrimp to the garlic, shallots and olive oil, make sure to drain and rinse them well.

Prep the tamarind as well, by placing in a bowl of water. When ready to make the tamarind sauce, you will strain the tamarind through a small strainer and just use the liquid that is left, discarding the thick paste.

Also, prep the packaged noodles by taking them out and placing them in a colander and rinse them under water to separate, set them aside until they are needed later in the recipe.

Peanuts can be roasted ahead of time and skins taken off prior to crushing. We did this using a pestle and mortar, and crushing the fresh peanuts.

To begin the sauce, heat a few Tblsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the finely chopped garlic cloves, and thinly sliced shallots. Next, stir in the drained and rinsed dried shrimp. When most of liquid is absorbed, add the tamarind juice to pan. Next, you will add a tsp of salt, pepper, and paprika. Add the fish sauce last, using only 2-3 tsp.

Set the sauce aside, and heat a larger wok or dutch oven to prep the noodles and protein. Begin with a few tsp of olive oil. Add the protein (we used raw, cleaned, prawns) and cook until done, then remove to bowl and add eggs to pan. Cook eggs in oil, then add protein back to pan, add noodles and sprouts slowly, adding a little bit of water at this step also helps the noodles not to stick. Only use as much as you are wanting to plate for the meal. Add spoonfuls of sauce to the noodles and protein, then add sprouts and chives. Stir together, making sure sauce and noodles are well mixed. Plate the dish and garnish with fresh lime wedges and crushed roasted peanuts.

The meal is delightfully, fresh and full of flavor. Use more salt and sugar, and crushed red peppers to taste at the end to get the end result just right.

Up next, on my cooking lessons with To, will be green papaya salad! Yum!!!