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Pad Thai--Cook-Off 6

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#61 snowangel

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Posted 02 April 2005 - 06:56 PM

fifi, if they are going to go south, roast them now, grind and store in the fridge.

And, yes, if you include the seeds, they will be hotter than hell. If you eliminate the seeds, they will be as hot as hell.

This is on the menu next week. I'm prepping for a big ass brisket right now. :wub:
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#62 mizducky

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Posted 02 April 2005 - 09:24 PM

I went to the local 99 Ranch and picked up all the ingredients I was missing in order to do the eGCI/Cook's Illustrated pad thai--but as 99 Ranch does not have one of those electric carts for disabled folks, and I basically had to wander all over the store to find all the little bits and pieces, my bod is now officially shot for the evening. So I guess I'm pad-thai-ing tomorrow.

Like a couple of other folks, I had some interesting moments trying to identify whether I had the correct items--specifically the tamarind paste and the preserved radish. With the first, the sign by the display clearly said "tamarind paste," and the stuff in the package looked right, but the English label on the package itself read something like "fruit candy." (!) No other English, no list of ingredients. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, I thought I was a little more up to speed on preserved radish/pickled daikon, but it seemed like all the packages of same that I found all contained sugar, or even artificial sweetener. (!) I finally settled on the one with the sweet stuff furthest down on the list of ingredients.

(Edited to fix typo--"spead"?!? Geez, I musta been tired! :biggrin: )

Edited by mizducky, 02 April 2005 - 10:47 PM.


#63 fifi

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Posted 02 April 2005 - 09:33 PM

I have been suffering from a case of radish confusion. I think all three of the recipes that I consulted in my books talks about salted radish. I was thinking that meant that you grated the radish, salted it, then drained it. Then I read about it in True Thai. In that book it is described as salty/sweet. Oopsy. Now I have to make a trip to Hong Kong Market. Oh well. I could make the 50 mile trek to the big one and see if they have the large granite mortar and pestle. :biggrin:
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#64 snowangel

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Posted 02 April 2005 - 09:48 PM

Well, Linda, now that you are retired...

Anyway, I always use just the salted radish. Maybe I should seek out the sweetened salted radish and see what it does.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#65 fifi

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Posted 02 April 2005 - 10:23 PM

Confusion continues. Sodsook describes salted radish, hua pak kad kem, as:

Used in soups and stir-fries, these are gold-colored matchstick shreds of radish that have been sun-dried and then cured in salt. They add a salty-sweet flavor and a bit of chewy texture. You will find them packed in cellophane bags, sometimes labeled as preserved turnip.


Is this what we are talking about?

It has been a while since I got pad Thai in a restaurant but I am not remembering eating anything like that. The one or two times I have made it, it was with a friend and I don't remember it there either. We were cooking from Sodsook's book and I now notice that he says it is optional so maybe we didn't use it.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#66 snowangel

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Posted 02 April 2005 - 10:34 PM

Just checked my package of salted radish. Imported from Bangkok.

Ingredients: radish, salt. But, I never know how much to trust those pasted in nutritional/ingredient lists on packages that have very little other english.

Sort of like the Tiparos nam pla. When I get the stuff that has the english word "Tiparos," the ingredient list includes sugar. When I get the stuff with the formal label containint nothing other than Thai, and the ingredient/nutrition label a plain white piece of seemingly photocopied paper in English, it contains no sugar.?????
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#67 piperdown

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Posted 02 April 2005 - 10:35 PM

Confusion continues. Sodsok describes salted radish, hua pak kad kem, as:

Used in soups and stir-fries, these are gold-colored matchstick shreds of radish that have been sun-dried and then cured in salt. They add a salty-sweet flavor and a bit of chewy texture. You will find them packed in cellophane bags, sometimes labeled as preserved turnip.


Is this what we are talking about?

It has been a while since I got pad Thai in a restaurant but I am not remembering eating anything like that. The one or two times I have made it, it was with a friend and I don't remember it there either. We were cooking from Sodsok's book and I now notice that he says it is optional so maybe we didn't use it.

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The recipe in Thai Cooking calls for salted white radish (Hua chay poa). He mentions that he buys the whole ones so they can be cut into whatever size needed. He also gives a recipe for making it yourself. It involves both salt and palm sugar, so I guess it's supposed to be salty and sweet. The process of making it seems to take 4-5 days, so hopefully I can find it at my Asian market.

#68 torakris

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Posted 03 April 2005 - 12:46 AM

Sunday lunch

Posted Image

I followed the Cook's illustrated recipe, but omitted the radish (didn't have it on hand) and dried sprimp (forgot about them...)
I put the chiles on top as a garnish with the cilantro, I really liked it this way as I love the taste of fresh chiles and it also made it easier to feed the kids.

I don't know why I don't make this more often, it is really easy and everything can be prepared in the time it takes the noodles to soak.
And the kids loved it!! :biggrin:

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#69 mizducky

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Posted 03 April 2005 - 01:04 AM

The recipe in Thai Cooking calls for salted white radish (Hua chay poa). He mentions that he buys the whole ones so they can be cut into whatever size needed. He also gives a recipe  for making it yourself. It involves both salt and palm sugar, so I guess it's supposed to be salty and sweet. The process of making it seems to take 4-5 days, so hopefully I can find it at my Asian market.

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Okay, since that sounds something like the pickled radish I just got (big whole daikon, with ingredients including both salt and sugar), I'm just gonna use it and see what happens. Although in truth I think what I've got is Japanese pickled daikon ...

Meanwhile, some googling has convinced me that I got the right tamarind paste, even though the English on the label reads "fruit candy." In Thai it's labeled "me vat khong hot" -- I'm leaving out a host of diacritical marks, which may mean I've butchered it into nonsense. Still, Google did fetch up this page when I searched on that phrase even without the punctuation. So I think I'm good on that.

Oh, while I'm at it ... I'm too weary at this time of night to see if this URL's been posted by somebody else already, but I stumbled upon this online "supermarket" for Thai foods and cookware which looks pretty spiffy, and has some helpful descriptions of products ... although this listing and picture for salted radish is now adding further to my own preserved radish confusion.

Edited by mizducky, 03 April 2005 - 01:07 AM.


#70 Susan in FL

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Posted 03 April 2005 - 07:13 AM

Yes, that is one of the sites I linked and is where I made my first online order when I began my Thai craze. I got my sticky rice steamer and cone basket from them. It was a helpful site for me in getting started on this Thai kick. :biggrin:
So, to add to the radish confusion... I don't think this makes a huge bit of difference, and whatever we all chose to use the Pad Thai won't be altered dramatically. In what I pictured upthread, my "salted turnip" did come chopped, and it contains sugar and salt. The "preserved radish" I have are whole and contain salt and sugar. I'm not sure yet which I'll use when I make the Pad Thai. I bought these since the last time I made it, and that time I improvised by salting and sugaring and draining fresh radishes or daikon. I can't remember which.
I'm also not sure about using something "pickled"... don't know if that would lend a desired flavor or not... Snowangel Susan??
Mizducky, I'm pretty certain you've got the right tamarind stuff, or close enough. Mine had some weird translation, too, but I can't remember what because the label came off some time ago and I threw it away. I ordered it from this same site we're discussing.
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#71 snowangel

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Posted 03 April 2005 - 07:41 AM

The idea of adding pickled something leaves me scratching my head. I've got some books reserved at the library which I'll pick up tomorrow. I'll look for the pickled stuff in recipes. And, I'm off to my Asian market tomorrow or Tuesday and I'll take a look at all of the salted stuff they have, as well.
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#72 suzilightning

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Posted 03 April 2005 - 10:48 AM

well had my first whack ever at padd thai friday night and johnnybird loved it.

i got Cracking the Coconut by Su-Mei Yu from the library as well as a few other Thai cookbooks. eliminated the ones that used ketchup in the recipe :blink: and started with Padd Thai Bann Gog. i couldn't find dried baby shrimps or Tien Jing cabbage so left the shrimp out but did the substitution of salt-packed capers for the cabbage. grabbed the wrong package of nuts - thought they were dry-roasted unsalted peanuts BUT were dry-roasted unsalted mixed nuts. ate the walnut pieces but chopped the peanuts, cashews and macadamias. couldn't find fried tofu so made it myself with extra firm tofu. followed the author's recipe for roasted dried chile powder using a mix of chile de arbol and thai bird.

didn't have a problem with the noodles falling apart on me and it was great to have prepped everything first so it took me the 10 minutes or so the noodles reconstituted in lukewarm water to get everything cooked. garnished with lime wedges that rounded out the sweet/salty/hot taste.

the author also has a recipe for Padd Thai Ayuthiya which uses a sweet sour sauce made with tamarind, sugar, salt and fish sauce. i found frozen tamarind in the market so will try working with that. she also has a recipe for Woon Senn Padd Thai that she said "became the rage among Bangkokians, who found the soft and delicate texture of bean threads a refreshing change from the usual senn chan". found the noodles and will try my hand at baked tofu next.

thank you, thank you, thank you for this cookoff. :wub: more interesting things i might not have tried by myself my husand will eat.
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#73 snowangel

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Posted 03 April 2005 - 11:52 AM

I can get fried tofu at my market very easily. Actually, they are fried cakes, so when I cut them into strips, two sides aren't fried, but I just put them in first and press the unfried sides onto the pan.

One hint for tofu in pad thai. Put the cake in a bowl and put a weight on top of it. Even with the extra firm tofu, you'd be amazed at how much water comes out.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#74 mizducky

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Posted 03 April 2005 - 05:28 PM

Yes, that is one of the sites I linked and is where I made my first online order when I began my Thai craze.  I got my sticky rice steamer and cone basket from them.  It was a helpful site for me in getting started on this Thai kick.  :biggrin:

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Oops. Oh well--that's what comes of me posting when I should be heading for bed. :blush: :laugh:

I am right now consuming the fruits of my pad thai experiment. As I mentioned before, I used the eGCI/Cook's Illustrated recipe. This produced some darn good-tasting pad thai. None of that gloppy orange-sauced dumbed-down-for-America restaurant pad thai--the noodles are pale, but the flavor is great.

A couple pictures:
Most of the raw and/or packaged ingredients:
Posted Image

Most of the mise en place:
Posted Image

No shots of the actual cooking--too busy stir-frying for dear life!

The finished product:
Posted Image

Notes and observations:
1. Like other asian dishes I have done, this was a whole lotta mise en place (counting peeling the damfool shrimp, I spent almost two hours mise-ing), followed by a short frenzied period of actual cooking. Knowing that now, I could now see throwing together a quick-and-dirty pad thai by using various short-cuts to make the mise more manageable (i.e. pre-cooked shrimp, prepared tamarind concentrate, etc.)
2. As I have become a wimp about hot spices in my old age, I decreased the amount of cayenne from 3/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp. That turned out to be just right for my tastes--just enough hot to let me know the cayenne is in there.
3. Damn, there's gotta be a more efficient way of peeling shrimp than what I was doing. It would have helped if I hadn't been feeling like such a cheapskate and had spring for bigger shrimp. :rolleyes:
4. I'm very happy about how the noodles came out--just the right texture, neither too springy nor too limp.
5. Only fault I could find was that the (fresh) shrimp were a bit too salty. I brined them for something like 25 minutes (the recipe said up to 30); maybe next time I'll only go for 15, or maybe not even brine them at all if I'm also including dried shrimp as I did today.
6. Damn, that made a whole lot of pad thai. I know what I'm going to be eating for the next couple of days. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. :wink:

#75 Susan in FL

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Posted 03 April 2005 - 06:20 PM

Oops. Oh well--that's what comes of me posting when I should be heading for bed. :blush:  :laugh:

NO problem!

I am right now consuming the fruits of my pad thai experiment. As I mentioned before, I used the eGCI/Cook's Illustrated recipe. This produced some darn good-tasting pad thai. None of that gloppy orange-sauced dumbed-down-for-America restaurant pad thai--the noodles are pale, but the flavor is great.

A couple pictures:
Most of the raw and/or packaged ingredients:
Posted Image

Most of the mise en place:
Posted Image

No shots of the actual cooking--too busy stir-frying for dear life!

The finished product:
Posted Image

Notes and observations:
1. Like other asian dishes I have done, this was a whole lotta mise en place (counting peeling the damfool shrimp, I spent almost two hours mise-ing), followed by a short frenzied period of actual cooking. Knowing that now, I could now see throwing together a quick-and-dirty pad thai by using various short-cuts to make the mise more manageable (i.e. pre-cooked shrimp, prepared tamarind concentrate, etc.)
2. As I have become a wimp about hot spices in my old age, I decreased the amount of cayenne from 3/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp. That turned out to be just right for my tastes--just enough hot to let me know the cayenne is in there.
3. Damn, there's gotta be a more efficient way of peeling shrimp than what I was doing. It would have helped if I hadn't been feeling like such a cheapskate and had spring for bigger shrimp. :rolleyes:
4. I'm very happy about how the noodles came out--just the right texture, neither too springy nor too limp.
5. Only fault I could find was that the (fresh) shrimp were a bit too salty. I brined them for something like 25 minutes (the recipe said up to 30); maybe next time I'll only go for 15, or maybe not even brine them at all if I'm also including dried shrimp as I did today.
6. Damn, that made a whole lot of pad thai. I know what I'm going to be eating for the next couple of days. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. :wink:

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Beautiful! Great job, looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing your photos, notes and everything.
Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

#76 torakris

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Posted 03 April 2005 - 06:20 PM

Mizducky,
great pictures, it looks fabulous!

and yes that pickled radish you have is the Japanese type, I wonder how differently they taste. I have never eaten the Thai one so I can't compare them.

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#77 Chris Amirault

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Posted 03 April 2005 - 07:01 PM

Well, I think that mizducky and I can compare notes! I made the David Thompson recipe in Thai Food, adding some minced garlic with the shallots, tossing in some sauteed chicken slices, substituting scallions for the chives, and leaving out the radish (which I couldn't find at the store today).

What I did find, however, was something I'd never seen before and is pretty interesting. I bought a package of fresh noodles vacuum-sealed in this package (sorry, I thought to take the photo after I opened them to start soaking:

Posted Image

I soaked them only an hour in room temp water, and they turned out just the right texture.

Here's what the final dish looked like. The dried shrimp and ground chilis are off to the side; Andrea hates the shrimp and I like to add more chili than she in this dish.

Posted Image

It was FANTASTIC, the best pad thai I've ever made. I really think that the Thompson recipe is great. He's big on shallots, which provide a good foundation, and the balance of flavors is spot on. (I should say that I always add a full dose of chili, which makes for a different balance than, say, mizducky would get.)

Also, I have been working very hard to develop my wok's patina, and the wok hei is excellent. I usually use a propane wok cooker that I adore, but we had a rain storm warning while I was doing meez, so I used it on my stove for the first time. It worked out really well: the vegetables sauteed well, and by the time everything was waiting for the noodles, the wok was very hot.

That meant that the noodles picked up a lot of color and hei. Following Thompson's advice, I really pressed the noodles into the wok for a while before adding the sauce, and some of them darkened nicely. It's worth it to get a good wok and treat it like a member of the family, I'm telling you....

I also served a tom yum soup --

Posted Image

-- and a fantastic pomelo salad --

Posted Image

-- both of which are from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet and both of which were also excellent.

I do want to go back and find that salted radish, though, and see if I can tweak this.
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#78 helenjp

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Posted 04 April 2005 - 04:16 AM

Torakris, if you hadn't :laugh: omitted the radish, which would you have considered the better substitute for sweet pickled radish - dried radish (kiriboshi daikon) or bran-pickled radish (takuan)?

I faintly remember eating it when I worked in a Chinese shop, but so long ago...and we never thought that much about what pickles to eat, just ate them in order of breakages :huh: .

Pad thai looks like a good lunch before the school lunch schedule swings back into action!

Chrisamarault, that looks like a wonderful pomelo salad. They are so good at this time of year.

#79 little ms foodie

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Posted 04 April 2005 - 10:34 AM

Kris, ducky and Chris your pad thais look sooooo good!! great job and great photos all!

#80 mizducky

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Posted 04 April 2005 - 01:05 PM

Thanks for all the compliments, folks!

Reflecting on the experiment, I now find I have some further geeky-detail questions:

1. The eggs. The eGCI/mamster/Cook's Illustrated recipe said to stir-fry the eggs for a mere 20 seconds before adding the noodles. When I did that, the eggs were still a bit liquidy by the time I added the noodles, so that when I mixed them all together the eggs wound up as a mostly-invisible (though quite tasty) coating on the noodles. Is that the effect we're going for? Or are there supposed to be discernable bits of egg as in fried rice? If the latter, I'm probably going to have to stir-fry the eggs longer, because my wimpy electric range doesn't seem to push enough juice to make the eggs solidify in that short a time even when the burner's set to high.

2. Browner noodles: chrisamirault, I note the suggestion you got from the recipe you followed, regarding pressing the noodles into the wok to get them to pick up some color. As noted above, I'm working with a wok on a wimpy electric burner, which I know is far from ideal, but it's extremely unlikely that I'll be able to get a better heating unit for under my wok for the forseeable future (at least it's a flat-bottomed wok, with some pretty decent seasoning). Any other thoughts on how I might get my noodles browner next time (without resorting to the dreaded ketchup bowdlerization)?

(edited to fix a tyop :wink: )

Edited by mizducky, 04 April 2005 - 01:06 PM.


#81 snowangel

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Posted 04 April 2005 - 01:18 PM

As mentioned upthread somewhere, it is not unusual to get more color on the noodles by adding some paprika to the water when you soak the noodles.

When I lived in Bangkok, sometimes the egg bits were more discernable, sometimes less.

Since we had pad thai about 2 days before this cookoff, I'm going to wait until later in the week to do it. In fact, I think over the course of the next couple of weeks, I might do it twice -- to compare fresh vs. dried rice noodles.

In the meantime, we'll work on the leftovers from my big ass brisket.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#82 torakris

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Posted 04 April 2005 - 02:58 PM

Torakris, if you hadn't  :laugh: omitted the radish, which would you have considered the better substitute for sweet pickled radish - dried radish (kiriboshi daikon) or bran-pickled radish (takuan)?

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Helen,
I am not sure. I have never tasted the Thai radish so I am unsure of the best substitute for it. I have never looked for the Thai style here so honestly I don't even know what it looks like...

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#83 tamiam

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Posted 04 April 2005 - 06:55 PM

A very sweet eG-er gave me a little butane burner to get me through my no stovetop dilemma, so I pad thai'd too. Glad I did because it was great. I modified the CI recipe, by increasing the cayenne to 1 tsp (which was perfect for my taste, the 3/4 t in their recipe went mostly unnoticed), and using a fresh herb mix that included cilantro and some kind of Asian mint because that is what I had on hand.

I take back what I said earlier about the tamarind paste being a pain. That might be because I got seedless this time around, so there was more tamarind pulp in my mix, or because I used a smaller sieve that was easier to work with. In any case it was not a problem at all, and is WAY better than the tamarind concentrate, which tastes all overcooked.

That was a really good dish!!
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#84 Susan in FL

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 07:09 PM

My first thoughts: To echo Suzi's remark, "thank you, thank you, thank you for this cookoff"! This was by far better Pad Thai than I made before. Everyone's discussion helped so much.


Posted Image

To start with, a Jason-style photo of the finished product



Posted Image

I was not confident that the end result was going to turn out looking as pretty as the condiments and the prepared ingredients sitting at stove-side did, so I took lots of shots of those. This is one of the pictures of the condiments.



Posted Image

The Table at Eating Time



I will be up for more discussion later, but for now I am trying to give the condensed version of the story. I mostly followed the Hot Sour Salty Sweet recipe for the directions, with the exception that everything took longer stir-fry, pressing, and turning time because our electric stove is not-so-hot (both figurativly and literally speaking) and because my volume of some ingredients was significantly larger.
I used about 3 ounces of fresh pork slivers and a pound of fresh local shrimp, in addition to about a tablespoon of the dried shrimp. I used all the ingredients called for in the Hot Sour Salty Sweet recipe, and also some shallots in with the bean sprouts mixture and some extra condiments. I did use the salted radish, and my tamarind was ready-to-use concentrate.
The photos make the condiments obvious. To go with it, I made Stir-Fried Napa Cabbage with Garlic and Yellow Bean Sauce from True Thai, and a typical spicy cucumber relish. We ate family-style instead of plating.
We enjoyed a Reisling with it. It was a hit with Russ, and also my Danish son who is visiting and said that Thai food is quite popular in Denmark.
Any questions about something I failed to mention, please feel free to ask. I am pleasantly full, but tired, and we have yet to clean up!
Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

#85 mizducky

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 08:50 PM

That looks, gorgeous, Susan!

Totally off-topic ... my dad was a neighbor of yours (Ormond Beach) up until he passed away this past December. Lovely area you live in, there (I mean, when it's not being smished by hurricanes, I guess! :smile: )

Back on-topic: now that I've got this stock of leftover ingredients of various sorts, I've got questions about storage. I'm assuming the tamarind paste needs to be kept refrigerated, right? I've got it in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap right now. How long does it keep? How about the open bottle of fish sauce? Fridge or cupboard?

#86 snowangel

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Posted 05 April 2005 - 08:57 PM

I've never fridged fish sauce or tamarind paste. Cupboard for both.
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#87 piperdown

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Posted 06 April 2005 - 07:36 AM

I've never fridged fish sauce or tamarind paste.  Cupboard for both.

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I've always put fish sauce (and soy sauce) back in the fridge, but I think snow angel is right, it's not needed. I mean the stuff is made form fermented fish guts and stuff, so what could possibly go off in it....it's already off.

Of course I have more space in my fridge then cupboard, so I'll probably just keep it there.

#88 Chufi

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 11:03 AM

after reading about everyone's PadThai for days, today I really really had to have some, even if I couldn't get all the right ingredients in my supermarket.
I used the recipe from the Thai course on EGullet, with some cheating: I used ready boiled shrimp, onion instead of shallot, and no salted radish.

Here's what it looked like:
Posted Image

When we started to eat, we both felt it was lacking something in flavor, but as we kept eating, it sort of grew on us.. Then my husband said that "maybe this is the kind of food that tastes better when it's cooled off a bit" and I actually think he made a very good point there! In the end we finished the entire bowl.

We added some sambal (indonesian chilipaste) at the table, for some heat and more intense flavor.

#89 Chris Amirault

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 01:57 PM

Looks great! Nice serving platters, too!
Chris Amirault
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#90 Dana

Dana
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  • 918 posts
  • Location:southeast texas

Posted 07 April 2005 - 11:41 PM

I made Malawry's recipe for Pad Thai today, and it looked very much like Chufi's, and I was pleased. I would recommend for anyone using the whole pound of noodles to use a deep wok or a 14 inch skillet. I used a 12 inch and tossing the noodles was a bit trying. It tasted nice and spicy, and so much lighter than American noodle dishes. Most of them seem to be covered in some sort of sauce or gravy. This was refreshing. As a fish sauce virgin, I was almost scared to add the NASTY smelling stuff, but I plowed on, and sure enough, couldn't taste it specifically, but I won't be afraid to use it again.
What else can I use the 'sweeten radish' for? How long will it keep? I put the unused portion in the fridge, but since the recipe only calls for a small amount, that package will last a loooonnnggg time.
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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Cookoff, Vegetarian