A friend recently bought me a wok and a cleaver in Chinatown. The visual image of wacking into chives and chicken with a three-pound knife and then tossing ingredients into an oversized, flaming wok was thrilling. So I asked myself, what dish do I order in at least twice a week? Pad Thai. To my surprise, this dish is harder to master than coq au vin. I have a newfound respect for the man facing the stove, whose culinary expertise exceeds his ambition. But what the hell, anything’s worth a try.
8-oz rice noodles, cook, set aside
3 tablespoons peanut oil or sunflower oil
2 eggs, mixed
2 chicken breasts, diced
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, chopped finely
3 red chilies, seeds and veins removed
1 large handful bean sprouts
1 small handful of salted peanuts
1 tablespoon shredded ginger
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, salt to taste
When cooking Thai food, remember this: all of the ingredients need to be cleaned, cut and ready to go before any cooking takes place. (I recommend placing everything in its own bowl to avoid confusion.) The wok is smoking hot and will cook most of the ingredients in a couple minutes, so there’s no time for futzing around the kitchen. If you don’t have a wok, use a large frying pan.
Heat one tablespoon oil in the wok and scramble the eggs. Set them aside. Add the remaining oil and cook the chicken until it starts to brown on high heat. Add the noodles and fish sauce and toss: it’s all in the wrist. Add the egg, garlic, scallions, chilies, bean sprouts, peanuts and ginger. Toss every 20 seconds or so until everything is heated through and soft. Add some salt to taste, sprinkle cilantro on top and garnish with a wedge of lime.
Pad ThaiServes 2Annemarie Ahearn