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Year of the Noodle: Week 2

The international market is like a candy store for the wannabe chef – every aisle is brimming with foodstuffs just crying out to be sampled.  This week’s recipe required a couple of authentic Thai ingredients I didn’t have on hand, so John and I went to the Pacific Ocean International Market not too far from our house.  We went in with a list of 3 or 4 items; we came out with 3 or 4 bags full of goodies.  I think we’re lucky it ended there.

The following Pad Thai dish combines elements of two recipes I found online.  The marinated tofu ends up a tad salty, but the sweetness of the Pad Thai sauce balances it wonderfully.  Overall, this is a truly flavorful dish that could give any takeout Thai a run for its money.  I highly recommend making this one, and taking a trip to the international market.  Just beware of the butcher section – there are some things a slightly squeamish vegetarian is just better off not seeing :)

Pad Thai with Marinated Tofu

  • 6 oz extra firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • ½ cup of palm sugar
  • 1 ½ tbl. white sugar
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce
  • ½ cup of tamarind juice concentrate
  • Dried rice stick noodles – about 1/3 of the package
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 6 tbl. of vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup of red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of carrots, match sticks
  • ¼ cup of green onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup of cilantro
  • ¼ cup of toasted peanuts chopped.
  • Lime wedge
Directions
  1. For marinated tofu:  Wrap the tofu firmly in a tea towel. Place the wrapped tofu into an 8-inch cake pan. Top with another cake pan and weigh down with a 5-pound weight. (Bags of dried beans or grains work well.) Place in refrigerator and press for 12 to 15 hours.  Place pressed tofu in a 2-cup container. Combine soy sauce and five-spice powder and pour over tofu. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning once. Remove the tofu from the marinade and use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days.
  2. To make pad thai sauce, heat a small pan on medium low and add soy sauce, palm and white sugar, tamarind concentrate, and garlic. Cook sauce until palm sugar has completely dissolved. At this point, you will want to taste the sauce and tweak the sweetness or hotness. To make it more spicy add a little Thai chili powder. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before storing it in a jar or plastic container.
  3. Boil noodles for 4-5 minutes and drain immediately rinsing with cold water for a few seconds. Noodles should be slightly firmer than Al dente. But don’t worry, they will continue to soften and cook later when stir frying. Using kitchen shears, cut the noodle clump in half. This will make it easier to fry and eat.
  4. Heat 3 tbls. oil in a wok or frying pan on high and cook tofu for 5-6 minutes. Remove tofu into a small bowl. Next, heat up 3 tbls. of oil and then add garlic and red onions to the hot pan and stir fry for 1 minute stirring the garlic mixture so it will not burn. Add noodles and stir for 1 minute. Add 5-6 tbls. Of Pad Thai sauce continually stirring noodle mixture until well coated with sauce. Add cooked tofu back and fry for 2-3 minutes. Move the noodle and meat mixture to one side of the pan and crack an egg on the other side. Scramble the egg with a wooden spoon and cook for 30 seconds. Add carrots and green onions and cook for one more minute frying everything together. Test the firmness of the noodle. If the noodle is too firm, fry for an additional minute. If your noodles need more flavor, add another tbl. of sauce and fry another half minute.  Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with remaining raw carrot match sticks, spouts, cilantro, toasted peanuts, and a wedge of lime.
Source: Combination of recipes from Savory Sweet Life and Food Network
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