Not near an Asian food store? No worries! Chef Jeff actually improves upon the traditional Thai dish by making leftovers last with - LINGUINI! Seriously, you have to give this a try. It's tasty, tangy, and has a little spice on the backburner.
I will admit, before I tried this Pad Thai recipe, I was not a fan of Thai food. I've tried it in many restaurants which were highly recommended by friends, but it was (believe it or not) too sweet, too sour, too spicy, or just not my thing. Chef Jeff and I had a discussion about my disappointment, and he clued me in that my dissatisfaction most likely came from too little or too much tamarind in the sauce; or the chef just blatantly didn't now what s/he was doing.
I do like Asian food. I can eat sushi all the time. Tempura is my friend. Chinese - thumbs up! But after a few bad experiences with Thai food, I was ready to give up.
So when Chef Jeff told me to try his Pad Thai recipe as an Emergency Eats feature, I was a bit hesitant. But I figured, ok, I will try it, because there are Thai food lovers out there, even if I'm not destined to be one.
He made a believer out of me. His Pad Thai has given me hope for my dining future!
One of Chef Jeff's secrets is that he infuses the linguini with flavor. You will see below. And, if you do want to take the more traditional route, this recipe will adapt if you want to use standard rice noodles, or bean sprout noodles - which are good if you plan on serving all of this dish immediately. He's also outlined vegan and gluten free options in the "Special Notes" for you, too.
The Emergency Eats inspiration for using a gluten-based noodle in Pad Thai is because rice-based noodles are great if you serve them immediately; the same with bean sprout noodles; however, if you want to make this dish in advance or want leftovers later in the week, those kinds of noodles turn to mush. Linguini stands up to the test of time. Udon Noodles (fresh only) is the closest substitution that may hold up under refrigeration for about 3 days.
It's so cool to have someone skilled in Asian cuisine like Chef Jeff cranking out these dishes that are very adaptable as you will see!
1 red pepper
1 cup fresh snow peas (in the pod)
1 tsp. fresh ginger root, grated
2" piece fresh ginger root (will be used when boiling the noodles)
2 garlic cloves
1 cup bean sprouts (rinsed & dried)
1/2 cup firm tofu (cut into 1" rectangles, 1/4" thick)
1 lb. shrimp (shelled, deveined, tails on) (medium, large, or jumbo are fine)
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 limes, each quartered
1/2 lb. dried linguine noodles
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
3 Tbsp. soy sauce (2 Tbsp. will be used when boiling the noodles)
1/2 tsp. Sriracha hot chili sauce (you can substitute 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 lemon (juiced)
1 tsp. dried tamarind (fresh tamarind fruit is hard to find; if you can find one, grate the green part. Knorr Tamarind Soup Base works well. You can also substitute 2 Tbsp. white vinegar if all else fails)
1. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a BIG pot.
2. Add 2 Tbsp. soy sauce to the water.
3. Cut the 2" piece of fresh ginger into 5 rings about 1/4" thick. Leave the skin on. (There's a method to this madness of counting 5 rings - you will see!)
4. By adding the soy sauce and ginger to the water, this will infuse the noodles with flavor while they cook. Cook the linguini until it's al dente. (slightly firm with a toothy bite) If the box says boil for 8-10 minutes, subtract 2 minutes from the cooking time - that's a good rule of thumb. While the noodles boil, your mouth will water. Who knew soy-ginger water smelled so good!
5. IMPORTANT! Do NOT drain the noodles because you don't want the broth to go down the drain! Scoop off about 1 - 2 cups of the broth, and reserve it to the side. Then, you may drain the noodles in a colander. Do NOT rinse them.
6. Remove the 5 pieces of ginger root that were boiled with the noodles. No one wants to bite into boiled ginger hunks! Toss them in the trash.
7. Cut the red pepper, onion, and carrot into 1"-2" long matchstick pieces. (Chef Jeff is a perfectionist with this. He has mad knife skills. TheLadyinRed is not so fussy - and that's fine.) :)
8. Cut the cabbage as thinly as you can. (Or get out your food processor with the shredding blade; or cheat and buy the pre-packaged shredded cabbage)
9. Cut the white part of the scallions into small rings and the green part into 1" pieces. Leave the snow peas alone. Mince the garlic.
10. Preheat a deep and large frying pan or wok with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Add the tofu in a single layer. Cook the tofu about 3 - 5 minutes on each side. Tofu contains a lot of water and the idea is to let that water evaporate so the pieces turn golden brown on both sides. Once the tofu is browned, remove it from the pan and set it aside.
11. Use the same frying pan, and reheat it again with the other tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the garlic and the shrimp. Stir frequently keeping the shrimp coated with the garlic on medium-high heat. Shrimp cook quickly. Once they are orangey-pink, they are done. That will happen in 3 - 4 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set aside. (As a side note, you can just prepare garlic shrimp on its own just like this for a quick meal!)
12. TheLadyinRed and Chef Jeff are all about minimizing clean-up in the kitchen so we're going to re-use that same pan or wok AGAIN! (Yay for less dirty dishes!) Add the final Tbsp. of vegetable oil to the pan over medium-high heat and get ready to stir and not leave the stove! You want your veggies on the crunchier side - not a soggy sad mess.
13. Add the cabbage, carrots, and grated ginger root. Stir for about 1 minute to coat them with oil.
14. Add all of the other vegetables and 3/4 of the bean sprouts. (Reserve the remaining bean sprouts to add to the top of each plate upon serving for extra crunch.)
15. Stir the vegetables until they are crisp-tender - about 5 - 6 minutes should do it. If you like them softer, cook them longer.
16. Place the linguini in the wok/pan. It will be clumped together but that's ok.
17. Add back the tofu, shrimp, and reserved broth. Stir to combine over medium-high heat.
18. Add 2 Tbsp. fish sauce, remaining 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1/2 tsp. Sriracha sauce, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. dried tamarind, and the juice of one lemon. Mix well. Taste it. If you would like it tangier, add more tamarind. It it's not spicy enough, add more Sriracha or hot pepper flakes. If you want it saltier, add more soy sauce.
19. Plate with most of the noodles at the bottom and try to arrange some of the shrimp and vegetables on top for nice presentation. Place a small amount of the reserved bean sprouts on the top of each serving. Serve with lime wedges on the side so each person can adjust the citrus flavor to their own liking by squeezing limes onto their own plates.
This serves 6-8 people. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days; or you can make it in advance for a future "Emergency Eats" reheat situation.
Experiment with adding vegetables you love. Suggestions are:
- thinly sliced raw Brussels sprouts (or if you are a patient person, remove the leaves one at a time and add them to the dish for complimentary flavor)
- sliced mushrooms (all kinds) <-- highly recommended by The Lady in Red
- different colors of bell peppers
- sliced fresh tomatoes
- bamboo shoots
- water chestnuts <--yes please! says The Lady in Red
- string beans
- yellow or green zucchini/squash
- spinach, kale, or any other green leafy vegetable
- peanuts <-- yay! says The Lady in Red
- omit the fish sauce
- add more tofu
- add more vegetables
GLUTEN FREE OPTION:
- replace the linguini with rice or mung bean noodles
- use a gluten free soy sauce (Kikkoman makes a good one)