If Bangkok lived in the suburbs…

… it would probably cry itself to sleep with this as its last meal. Don’t be fooled—the amalgamation of flavors are quite honestly delicious, and I would make this multiple times, especially considering the speed with which it is concocted. That said, I can barely even whisper the connection between this would be-faux-heretical-absurd rendition of pad thai. Hardly even a reimagining, if you will. Nay, I honestly can only call it the pseudo-pad thai of the suburbs.

And why do I say this? Because we are missing: fish sauce, palm sugar, scallions, flat rice noodles (ugh! I’m ashamed to even be sharing this!), to name the key ingredients at least. Nevertheless, I had been craving craving craaaaaaving thai food for ages, but we are on a staunch mission to only eat out once a week as a means of 1) keeping to a stricter healthy regimen and 2) to stimulate smarter economical habits so that I may spend more frivolously should I actually obtain my travel visa in time to visit India with the husband in March. While that is as yet unconfirmed, alas, it doesn’t mean I can’t try to be more wary of spending habits. And thus, the suburban pad thai was born from my kitchen.

But these experiences always remind me that while authentic cuisine is vital to understanding and respecting a culture, playing hickety-spicket with the ingredients is the breeding ground for such classic genres as “Asian fusion,” “Indo-chinese” and “Whatchamacallit” (a personal favorite and frequent guest of our abode).

In truth, I just winged this out of the left side of heaven, and thankfully was blessed with a lovely dinner dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Tamarind paste (homemade or store-bought)
  • ¼ cup oyster sauce (fish sauce is the actual ingredient, but this is what I had at home)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Chili powder
  • Roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup, sliced mushrooms
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced/minced
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • Whole wheat thin spaghetti noodles (I know, it pained me just to write it. Have mercy on my soul for desecrating this dish with such an ungainly noodle choice but it’s all I had!!)

First step in making this or even in making authentic pad thai is the prepare the sauce first.  Ideally you would have a super hot wok in which to cook your veggies and short shrimp/tofu/what-have-you, and in the final moment you dash in the sauce, so better to have it mixed and done to your liking rather than fidgeting with how much sugar or chili pepper you want.

So, in a saucepan on medium heat, mix in your tamarind paste, oyster sauce, and sugar until well blended and bubbling slowly.  Then in little amounts add the chili powder until you find the right level of heat for your palate.  Now, because I already lost the battle of authenticity, I added a tablespoon of crushed peanuts to the sauce, and stirred thoroughly.  Once done, set aside.

Cook your noodles as directed by the packaging, draina nd set that aside as well, covering with a damp towel.

As a final part of preparation, saute the mushrooms in some olive oil until they release all their water and shrink a bit. Otherwise you can’t use mushrooms in a dish like this, where the actual cooking is pretty fast.

Now the fun and quick part. If you have a wok, all the more power to ya. They can heat up in a superior fashion as is preferred for this, but alas I’m a simple girl with a simple kitchen, so I used your run of the mill frying pan.  A few tablespoons of olive on medium high and I added the bell peppers, onions, carrots and mushrooms. After a minute or two, add in the garlic and the chopped serrano pepper and stir a bit more.  Once the veggies have softened a bit, and a divine crisp aroma reaches up (after a few short minutes, in other words), add a few spoonfuls of sauce to coat the veggies and let them imbibe the sweet and tangy flavors.Lastly, add the noodles and more sauce (as much as is needed to generously coat all the noodles), turn the heat off, and flip and toss until the sorta-pad thai is beautifully crafted.

Sprinkle some more crushed peanuts if desired and serve immediately!  This might be an abomination of one of my favorite foods ever, but don’t tell me it doesn’t weaken your knees into sweet supplication!

Now if only I could have some sweet-n-sour or garlic pepper shrimp….

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