Asano-mama and I had a hankerin’ for Thai food, so we decided to have a mini Thai food night. The menu was pretty simple: homemade vegetable pad thai with tofu and a fusion-ish chili pork with scallions and sesame seeds.
The secret to good pad thai? Two things:
1. Make your own tamarind sauce. If you can get block tamarind pulp from your neighborhood Asian supermarket, do it. Avoid the canned or powdered tamarind ready-to-eat stuff; it’s much more rewarding and all around better flavor to make it yourself using the pulp. Reconstitute the pulp with water and strain the seeds and skin till only liquid remains. Then combine 1 part pulp with 1/2 part fish sauce, 1/4 part sugar, and chili paste to taste. The fish sauce and sugar bring a sweet/sour flavor to the tamarind, while the chili gives it a little (or a lot of) kick.
2. When soaking the rice noodles, only soak them until they start to get soft. They shouldn’t nearly be soft enough to eat. When you’re actually cooking the pad thai in the wok, they’ll absorb the moisture from the other ingredients and cook the rest of the way. I made this mistake so the pad thai came out a little soggy in the end, but it was still yummy.