Firmly in my Top 10 for Thai Street Food is Pad Thai, otherwise known as Thai fried noodles. The ingredients that make up this dish include: egg, beansprouts, dried shrimp, garlic, tofu, salted Chinese radish and crushed peanuts.
You can find pad thai being made almost anywhere. However, be warned. The recipe does vary. Try to avoid the pad thai that has been “mass produced” and is seen for sale for only 10 baht at temple fairs and places like Khao San Road. For best results, watch it being made fresh. The pad thai stand around the corner from me opens at about 5 p.m. and is open until late. A large plate from her costs 20 baht (see picture above). An extra sized helping (called pi-set in Thai) costs only 5 baht more.
In the above picture, you can see the ingredients waiting to be added. From left to right: tofu (beancurd), dried shrimp and salted Chinese raddish/turnip. At the back, in the plastic bag, you can see the rice noodles.
First to be added to the wok are the noodles. These are stir-fried for a few minutes. Next is added the dried shrimp, tofu and minced Chinese raddish. Again this is mixed and stir-fried for a few minutes.
The ingredients are now pushed to one side and an egg is cracked into the wok. She cooked the egg for a minute or so before breaking it up and mixing it in with the noodles. Finally a sprinkling of chopped chives and a generous layer of breansprouts are placed on top. This is not mixed in with the noodles. It is now ready to serve. The finally layer is the ground roasted peanuts. She placed all of this into a container with some spring onions, half a lime and a little plastic bag containing chili and sugar.
Although pad thai is cooked just about everywhere, people will cross to the other side of town just to get their favourite recipe. My favourite is on Taiban roundabout. Very delicious and worth the extra effort to cross town. It is easy to spot the more popular hawkers as there is always a long queue!
I have never attempted to cook this dish as it is so readily available. However, here is the recipe if you want to have a go at home:
Stir-Fried Thai Noodles Recipe
8 oz (250 g) rice noodles (sen lek)
3 tablespoons oil
3 garlic cloves (kratiem), minced
1/4 cup dried shrimp/prawns
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) fish sauce (nam pla)
1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) sugar
2 tablespoons tamarind juice (ma-kaam piag)
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup fried tofu
2 tablespoons dried unsalted turnip, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup 1-in (2.5-cm) lengths chopped chives
1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) ground roasted peanuts
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup chopped chives
1/4 small banana blossom, cut into strips
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
How to cook:
1. Soak the rice noodles in cold water for 30 minutes, or until soft. Drain, and set aside.
2. Heat a large skillet until hot, then add the oil. Add the garlic and dried shrimp, and stir-fry. Add the noodles and stir-fry until translucent. It may be necessary to reduce the heat if the mixture is cooking too quickly and the noodles stick.
3. Add the fish sauce, sugar, tamarind juice and paprika. Stir-fry the mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the tofu, turnip and egg.
4. Turn the heat to high and cook until the egg sets, stirring gently. Thoroughly combine the mixture, and continue cooking over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes until most of the liquid is reduced.
5. Mix in the chives, peanuts and bean sprouts. Place on a serving dish, arrange the bean sprouts, chives, banana blossom and lime attractively and serve.
Information from: “Thailand the Beautiful Cookbook”.
I will write about my favourite cook books soon. I just bought a really nice one from Asia Books. I will try and find out whether it is available at amazon.com. In the meantime, you can visit the Thai Food archives at enjoythaifood.com.