Phat Thai (Pad Thai)

I just spent 2 weeks in England with my husband visiting his sick mother. Although I love to English sausage, cheese and fish and chips, 2 weeks of bland food had me looking forward to the spices and hot peppers in my kitchen. This is one of the first things I made upon my return.

Adapted from True Thai, The Modern Art of Thai Cooking by Victor Sodsook. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1995.

I think this cookbook provides authentic Thai recipes.  My version is heavily modified.  I have easy access to the ingredients listed in this book, but I try to limit the special purchases to what I will use up.  I have given up on buying fish sauce because I hate to waste it but it does make a huge difference in the taste.

8 ounces dried rice-stick noodles, about 1/8-inch wide
1/4 pound medium shrimp
1/4 pound boneless pork loin or chicken breast (optional)
2 Tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
6 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon ketchup
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, pounded to a mash
2 Tablespoons shredded salted radish (optional)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts, crushed or finely chopped

For garnish:
2 cups bean sprouts
1/3 cup peanuts, finely chopped
lime or lemon wedges
Finely sliced Thai chilies

Soak the rice stick noodles in warm water until they are soft, about 15 minutes.

Clean the shrimp. Slice the meat if using.

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and ketchup. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Drain the noodles and set them aside in the colander.

Place all the stir-fry ingredients within easy reach. Arrange the garnishes so that everything will be ready when the noodles are done.

Heat wok over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot add the garlic and stir-fry a few seconds. Add the shrimp and meat, stir-fry until the shrimp and the meat lose their raw color, about 1 minute.

Stir in the sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and gently toss in the sauce. Stir-fry until the noodles absorb the sauce, about 2 minutes.

Mix in the salted radish.

Break the eggs into the wok. Break up the yolks a bit, then mix the egg into the noodles. Cook without stirring about 15 seconds, then stir-fry until well blended.

Add the chili powder and scallions. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes. Stir in the bean sprouts and peanuts, mix well.

Serve immediately. Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a one-dish meal.