When Nathan and I lived in Arlington, VA we had several restaurants that we frequented on a regular basis (most of them within walking distance from our apartment.) One of these restaurants was a neighborhood Thai place that had surprisingly delicious and authentic fare. Nathan would always get a beef basil dish and I would almost always get the Pad Thai. We had a good thing going…until we moved!
We love where we live now but it’s in a pocket of DC that is something of a restaurant desert when compared with our old Arlington stomping grounds. However, this has been good for the blog (and our budget) because we have been forced to learn how to make our favorite restaurant dishes at home. We tend to measure the success of our home-cooked meals by whether or not we think it’s better than restaurant quality and whether we feel that the dish would be worth the $15-$20 that it would cost if we went out.
So, with all that in mind, we set out to create our version of Pad Thai…a dish that has some unusual ingredients (requiring a trip to the local Asian market) but is surprisingly easy to whip together. I can say without hesitation that if I had ordered this Pad Thai in a restaurant I would have been happy with it!
Well, you win some and you lose some. This wine was fairly good by itself but was completely overpowered by the strong flavors in the Pad Thai. The Pad Thai needed a sweeter and fruitier wine to balance the savory spice of the dish and this wine was way too dry and crisp. It would have been a great wine with cheese and crackers, a light pasta dish, or a delicately seasoned seafood dish. C’ est la vie…it was a learning experience, right?
Katryn and I visited three separate stores trying to find a Thai beer that we would be happy pairing with our Pad Thai but we couldn’t find any. We finally settled on this nut brown ale from Red Hook and I’m really glad that we did! With pronounced malty, nutty, and toffee flavors it complimented the sweet, sour, and nutty flavors of the Pad Thai perfectly. Although the beer pours a very dark amber it is surprisingly light and helps to wash down the noodles really well.
5 ounces fettuccine width medium rice noodles
3 Tbs. fish sauce
2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs. wet tamarind paste
1 Tbs. Brown sugar
1 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ small onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 Tbs. sweet preserved radish, chopped
½ cup firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch wide strips, similar to French fries
1 ½ cups bean sprouts
½ cup garlic chives
¼ cup chopped, roasted peanuts
Lime wedges for garnish
*All of the weird ingredients in this recipe (i.e. wet tamarind) are available at your local Asian grocery store.
Place the rice noodles in a large bowl and soak in cool water for approximately 40 minutes.
Assemble the rest of the ingredients so they are easily accessible…the process goes quickly once you start cooking.
Place the tamarind paste into ½” cup boiling water and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.
Combine the fish sauce, sugar, honey, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl and set aside. Press the tamarind paste through a fine mesh strainer and add to the sauce. Stir to combine.
Drain the water from the noodles and set them aside.
Place a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Heat until it shimmers, then add the eggs. Lightly scramble the eggs and then push them to one side of the pan. Add shrimp, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients in the following order and toss after each addition: noodles, sauce, radish, tofu, and bean sprouts. Toss everything until the noodles are cooked and everything is heated through. Add the garlic chives. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the peanuts and additional garlic chives. Serve immediately with the lime wedges.