Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pad Kee Mao | Spicy Basil Noodles | Drunken Noodles

When I was growing up, Chinese takeout was a rare occurrence and therefore, it was a treat. Mum was really into home cooking and didn't like the idea of letting her children gorge on processed foods where she couldn't control our salt and sugar intake. But every so often, we'd call out for vegetable chow fun, extra spicy orange chicken, and beef with garlic sauce. Those three dishes were our takeout staples.

A decade later and Chinese takeout has gotten a bit boring. It's still a rare occurrence but not as much of a treat. In its place, Thai food has stepped in. Thai food has spice and strong flavors and it's much more appealing to our Korean palates. It's also a pretty frequent occurrence; we have it at least once a month in our house. And that's a good thing except Thai food is pricier than Chinese. And for good reason; it's got more ingredients, more punch, more spice so why shouldn't it be more expensive?

In order to satisfy my Thai food cravings without breaking the bank, I like to whip up some of my favorites at home. I've previously shared a spicy basil noodle but that was almost three years ago and in that time, I've updated my recipe. The old one was inspired by my favorite Thai place in college. This new one is inspired by my new favorite Thai place near home and it's more flavorful and I think it's a bit prettier to look at.
Ingredients [serves 2 as a main or 4 if serving alongside other (Thai) dishes]:
6 oz. rice noodles
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3 Thai chilis, sliced (use more or less depending on your spice preference)
½ onion, sliced
½ bell pepper, sliced
3 to 4 broccoli florets
1 egg
6 oz. tofu (or protein of your choice, beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, seitan, quorn, what have you)
handful Thai basil (regular basil also works but it has a slightly different flavor)
handful mung bean sprouts (optional; this is typically seen in pad thai but I enjoy the crunch)
2 tablespoon soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free option)
1 teaspoon fish sauce (use ½ teaspoon miso for a vegetarian/vegan substitute)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (use more or less depending on your spice preference)
+ scallions for garnish
Start by getting all of the ingredients ready. The key to a successful stir-fry is having every ingredient ready to go because it's all about quickly everything to the pan in quick succession and there's no time to stop. So, slice up the onions, bell pepper, and Thai chilis. Mince the garlic and ginger. Chop up the scallions.
And cut the protein into bite-sized pieces. I love steamed tofu in my Thai dishes. I'm not a big fan of stir-fried meats. However, if you're into "manlier" dishes, then by all means, chop up some beef or pork or chicken and use that instead.
Most dried rice noodle packages tell you to soak the noodles in hot (faucet) water for ten minutes or until the noodles are pliable. Follow the directions, whatever they may be.
Make the seasoning sauce by combining soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, and chili garlic sauce. Give it a quick stir to dissolve the sugar and set aside.
Once all of the ingredients are prepped, get a pan onto medium high heat.
Once it's hot, add in a good glug of oil and toss in the garlic, ginger, and Thai chili peppers. Let them sizzle and allow the garlic to turn golden brown. Then, add in the onions, bell pepper, and tofu (or whatever protein you're using) and give it a good stir. Cook until the onions are soft (and the meat is cooked through).
Create some space in the center and crack in an egg and then quickly beat it up with your spatula to scramble it.
Drain the noodles and get them ready for the pan.
Toss in the broccoli and noodles and give them a quick toss. Pour in the seasoning and then stir to evenly coat everything in the sauce.
Turn off the heat and chuck in the basil and sprouts and give it one last good toss before plating it up. Garnish with scallions and bring it to the table for immediate consumption.
Enjoy while it's good and hot. It's spicy and savory and really delicious. Rice noodles are one of my favorite noodles because they've got a slightly chewy texture and they really soak up flavorings. Leftovers also heat up really well.
Here's the recipe page:

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