After purchasing tamarind paste, for the exclusive purpose of making beef rendang, I had left over tamarind paste that I did not know what to do with. Considering I had to order it online, and it was not inexpensive, I would like to use it rather than just let it sit in the refrigerator until it grows green fuzz, or dries out, or does whatever tamarind paste does when it ages- I have no idea what that is. (But I know it can’t sour, because it’s already violently tart.) So, for want of another recipe to use my tamarind paste in, I turned back to the list of the worlds 50 most delicious foods and came upon Pad Thai.
I had never personally experienced Pad Thai, (I know, shame on me.) but I was recently at the library in the company of a friend who was seeking a recipe for it herself. With her glowing reviews for the dish, when I discovered it on the top 50 list, and realized it called for tamarind paste, I was sold. I turned to the internet for my recipe and came across a recipe for it from Alton Brown. (<3 <3 <3)
When I told them I was attempting Pad Thai, many of my friends raved about the dish, and said that they had considered making it themselves but they were intimidated by all the ingredients. It’s a fairly long ingredient list, and there is some moderately involved prep work; some of which needs to be done the day before; but it really shouldn’t be so daunting. With an adequate supply of prep bowls, it takes about 45 minutes. (Except for the day before stuff.)
The part that I found more involved was the cooking. Once you start, it goes fast, as, the skillet is on high heat. You really cannot walk away, or stop stirring for more than a few seconds- until you pour in the sauce.
Both of the recipes I have made with my tamarind paste called for sugar to counteract the tartness… However, my beef rendang and Pad Thai both turned out sour. My new theory on the subject is that the particular batch of tamarind paste I acquired is especially tart and is tainting what would otherwise be delicious dishes. The Pad Thai still turned out tasty- there were a wide range of complex flavors at play- The salty shrimp paste, the rich peanuts, the spicy chili… But the underlying tart note was distracting. What I gather from my friends who are experienced in the eating of Pad Thai, is that it is supposed to be slightly tart, but also sweet. In the future, methinks I will use more sugar than the recipes call for to tone down the tamarind.
- 1-ounce tamarind paste
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 4 ounces rice stick noodles
- 6 ounces Marinated Tofu, recipe follows
- 1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 cup chopped scallions, divided
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 whole eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons salted cabbage
- 1 tablespoon dried shrimp
- 3 ounces bean sprouts, divided
- 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped, divided
- Freshly ground dried red chile peppers, to taste
- 1 lime, cut into wedgesDirections
- Place the tamarind paste in the boiling water and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.
Combine the fish sauce, palm sugar, and rice wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the rice stick noodles in a mixing bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Once the other ingredients are measured out into separate bowls, drain the water from the noodles and set them aside. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch wide strips, similar to French fries.
Press the tamarind paste through a fine mesh strainer and add to the sauce. Stir to combine.
Place a wok over high heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Heat until it shimmers, then add the tofu. Cook the tofu until golden brown, moving constantly, for no longer than 1 minute. Remove the tofu from the pan to a small bowl and set aside.
If necessary, add some more peanut oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Add 2/3 of the scallions and then the garlic, cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the eggs to the pan; once the eggs begin to set up, about 15 to 20 seconds, stir to scramble. Add the remaining ingredients in the following order and toss after each addition: noodles, sauce, cabbage, shrimp, and 2/3 of the bean sprouts and peanuts. Toss everything until heated through, but no longer than 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the remaining scallions, bean sprouts, and peanuts. Serve immediately with the ground chile peppers and lime wedges.
6 ounces extra-firm tofu, not silken
1 1/2 cups soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
Wrap the tofu firmly in a tea towel. Place the wrapped tofu into an 8-inch cake pan. Top with another cake pan and weigh down with a 5-pound weight. (Bags of dried beans or grains work well.) Place in refrigerator and press for 12 to 15 hours.
Place pressed tofu in a 2-cup container. Combine soy sauce and five-spice powder and pour over tofu. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning once. Remove the tofu from the marinade and use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days.
Leave a Comment
No comments yet.