Pad Thai

Tonight we made one of our favorite dishes from a modified Cooking Light recipe.

2/3 cup chili sauce (such as Heinz)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chopped seeded serrano chile
1/2 pound wide rice stick noodles (bánh pho)
4 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
1 (12.3-ounce) package extrafirm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
3/4 cup diagonally cut green onions
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro, divided
1/3 cup coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
6 lime wedges

Combine first 6 ingredients; set aside.
Cook noodles in boiling water 5 minutes or until done. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add tofu; cook 7 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan.

Combine egg whites and egg, stirring well with a whisk.

Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, and sauté for 10 seconds. Add egg mixture, and cook for 30 seconds or until soft-scrambled, stirring constantly. Stir in chili sauce mixture and noodles; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tofu, bean sprouts, onions, and 1/4 cup cilantro, and cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup cilantro and peanuts evenly over each serving of noodle mixture. Serve with lime wedges. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups noodle mixture, 2 teaspoons cilantro, about 1 teaspoon peanuts, and 1 lime wedge)

The recipe was originally a vegetarian dish, but we’ve modified it a bit and I dare say, improved it significantly. To start with, we added fresh Louisiana white shrimp obtained from our local fish monger, Aquarius Fish Co. Thanks Dan and Julie!

The next improvement came with the preparation of the tofu. Rather than frying it in a pan with oil, I like to cook tofu in about six ounces of a 50-50 combination of soy sauce and water with 5 teaspoons of brown sugar, making an almost super saturated solution. Bring the sauce to a boil, add in the extra firm tofu cut into chunks of desired size and render down until the sauce has cooked completely off leaving a syrupy covering on the tofu and a nutty aroma. A non-stick pan helps here tremendously.

Shrimp are prepared with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, a pinch of salt on your shrimp and chile pepper flakes to a desired spiciness. Heat the olive oil and chile pepper flakes up on the stove to add spiciness to your dish. Note, if you want even spicier shrimp, the longer you cook up the chile pepper flakes in the olive oil before adding the shrimp, the hotter (spicier) the oil will get before you toss in the shrimp and flash cook them just until the bluish translucency goes away. Note: Most people overcook seafood, especially shrimp and scallops. The longer you cook them, the tougher they get and flavor is lost. Also, you really should add in just a tiny bit of salt to any salt water fish or crustacean in the cooking process. Kosher salt is preferable because of the morphology of the salt flakes, no additives, and an open granular structure which will help to hold to the substrate (shrimp) a bit better while providing for a better flavor experience with less salt than one might use with traditional table salt.

Finally, dish up your noodles as per the original recipe, add in your tofu and shrimp at the end and garnish with cilantro, peanuts, lime wedges and enjoy.

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