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Glad you're joining this cook-off, the pix did you in, right? ...I'll answer what I can. The noodle and pickle question, I'll leave to those who can answer you better coz they share the same grocers with you.

Are these chile pastes made from dried or fresh chiles?  I can pick up some bird chiles this weekend when the farmers market opens again, or I could get dried bird chiles at the co-op tomorrow.  Do you use either the paste or fresh chiles, or can you use both?  What about Huy Fong Chile Garlic Paste (basically Sriracha without the sugar)?  I am thinking I might want to add some powdered dried bird chiles, make a paste from some fresh roasted chiles as a condiment, and top it off with some fresh unroasted serranos and bird chiles.  I also might want to throw in just like a tablespoon of the chile paste for good measure.

Usually, a big dollop of chile paste is added for color and taste. If you can't find chile paste, you can use dry chile powder. On top of that, you can add fresh bird chiles for more oomph. Sliced fresh regular chiles can also be used.

I would love to add tamarind, but all of the tamarind I can find is loaded with sugar, is it just a naturally sugar-laden fruit or do the manufacturers add extra?  To give it that sour tang what would I want to use instead of tamarind, just vinegar?

I'm glad the tamarind we get here are not sugarised! If you can't get that, use calamansi lime. If you can't get the lime, use lemon. My suggestion? Try very hard to find the tamarind pulp. :smile:

As for the fried tofu: I can't seem to find that either.  Would I get the same effect just from draining some extra firm tofu and frying it up? 

Yup, rinse the extra firm tofu, drain dry. Cut into strips and fry.

I am assuming the bean sprouts mentioned are mung bean sprouts, I can find those fresh I think, and they are pretty tasty, so that sound slike a good addition.  Is there ever any greenery other than the cilantro though?  I guess this is not the type of dish to toss in some bok-choy as it cooks? 

Correct on the bean sprouts. I also add chinese chives. Fry half the sprouts and chives and leave the other half to add right at the end. Save the bok choy for a chinese stirfry.

What about the peanut factor, is it always just whole peanuts, or should I Grind some up or add some natural peanut butter too?  What about coconut milk?   

Dry-fry or roast in oven the whole peanuts. Rub the skin off. Chop coarsely. You want to sprinkle them for garnish and taste/texture when you're done frying.

Coconut milk? Which recipe are you using? I don't recall seeing coconut milk in pad thai. :wink:


Edited by Tepee (log)

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I would love to add tamarind, but all of the tamarind I can find is loaded with sugar, is it just a naturally sugar-laden fruit or do the manufacturers add extra?  To give it that sour tang what would I want to use instead of tamarind, just vinegar?

...

I am a total asian-food newbie here, I know I have lots of questions, just not sure where to even start with this one.

Nullo, I've never seen tamarind with added sugar. I wonder if you're looking at tamarind drink mix? (Tamar hindi is the Egyptian - Arabic? - name for a wonderful drink - think lemonade, but with tamarind instead.)

I can't remember where you live, but I'm pretty sure you're in the eastern half of the U.S. If you can't find tamarind pulp in an Asian grocery, try looking in a Middle Eastern grocery. That's where I get mine.

Thanks for starting off with all the questions. I've been lurking on this one too, since I've never even heard of pad thai before now. Your questions just *might* tip me off into the unknown...maybe...the photos certainly look appealing....<wanders off musing over chopping and buying new ingredients>

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As a new member (who has been "lurking" for a while) I'm pleased to say this thread got me interested in trying Pad Thai. OMG! What I made was absolutely wonderful!

I did take some short cuts - I used Thai Kitchen's "Original Pad Thai Sauce" doctored up with additional fish sauce, Thai chili paste and fresh chilis for heat.

I used shrimp, rice noodles, a soft scrambled egg, bean sprouts and seasonings. It was so marvelous I've made it twice! Unfortunately, I couldn't wait long enough to plate appropriately or capture it's goodness by camera - next time!

BTW, Cooking at Home with CIA has a Hot and Sour Thai Soup that uses lots of leftovers from Pad Thai that is absolutely wonderful. Let me know if anyone wants me to post it with the changes I made....

Happy to be online with you folks!

Julia

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Welcome, Julia!

As a new member (who has been "lurking" for a while) I'm pleased to say this thread got me interested in trying Pad Thai.  OMG!  What I made was absolutely wonderful!

[snip]
Cooking at Home with CIA has a Hot and Sour Thai Soup that uses lots of leftovers from Pad Thai that is absolutely wonderful.  Let me know if anyone wants me to post it with the changes I made....

Glad the cook-off prompted you to post and cook, Julia -- that's the idea! Meanwhile, yes, we'd love to see your modified soup recipe. (You might want to read the rules about posting recipes here.)

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I would love to add tamarind, but all of the tamarind I can find is loaded with sugar, is it just a naturally sugar-laden fruit or do the manufacturers add extra?  To give it that sour tang what would I want to use instead of tamarind, just vinegar?

Nullo, I've never seen tamarind with added sugar. I wonder if you're looking at tamarind drink mix? (Tamar hindi is the Egyptian - Arabic? - name for a wonderful drink - think lemonade, but with tamarind instead.)

I can't remember where you live, but I'm pretty sure you're in the eastern half of the U.S. If you can't find tamarind pulp in an Asian grocery, try looking in a Middle Eastern grocery. That's where I get mine.

As you can see here, tamarind is a fruit that looks like a brown pod with fat little beans in it. You can buy it in the pods, or in blocks of mashed fruit that you have to dilute with water as in this diagram, or in prepared canisters of the liquid.

If not that, then... well, sure, maybe vinegar with palm or brown sugar to cut the sourness?

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I would love to add tamarind, but all of the tamarind I can find is loaded with sugar, is it just a naturally sugar-laden fruit or do the manufacturers add extra?  To give it that sour tang what would I want to use instead of tamarind, just vinegar?

Nullo, I've never seen tamarind with added sugar. I wonder if you're looking at tamarind drink mix? (Tamar hindi is the Egyptian - Arabic? - name for a wonderful drink - think lemonade, but with tamarind instead.)

I can't remember where you live, but I'm pretty sure you're in the eastern half of the U.S. If you can't find tamarind pulp in an Asian grocery, try looking in a Middle Eastern grocery. That's where I get mine.

As you can see here, tamarind is a fruit that looks like a brown pod with fat little beans in it. You can buy it in the pods, or in blocks of mashed fruit that you have to dilute with water as in this diagram, or in prepared canisters of the liquid.

If not that, then... well, sure, maybe vinegar with palm or brown sugar to cut the sourness?

It's funny, I've never seen tamarind pods in the U.S. markets I've visited, just the pulp in blocks. The pods look like a lot of work compared to the pulp block - but then, that's the argument for most convenience foods, isn't it? :laugh:

I think vinegar with sugar wouldn't have that fruity sour flavor you get from tamarind. Perhaps if you added lemon juice to the above-mentioned vinegar and sugar mix?

<Quick change of subject>

MOUSSAKA, YES! There's an Egyptian version, too!

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[...]I've never seen tamarind pods in the U.S. markets I've visited, just the pulp in blocks.[...]

Try Indian stores if there are any in your neck of the woods.

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[...]I've never seen tamarind pods in the U.S. markets I've visited, just the pulp in blocks.[...]

Try Indian stores if there are any in your neck of the woods.

There aren't any here, but I'm sure I can find them in other parts of the country. I see them in Egypt, too. My question is, are they worth the trouble? Those blocks of pulp, with seeds and fiber, are pretty darned convenient and much more compact.

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This thread is quite old by now, but I recall enjoying reading it way back when... Anyway, today I had phat thai at the famous Or Tor Kor Market in Bangkok and took photos to illustrate the process, which are posted on my blog. Take a look and compare you're phat thai to the phat thai of a pro..

Cheers,

Austin

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To lick my wounds and heal my sorry from Battle Khao Soi, I decided to make some Phad Thai. Here you go. Thank god, this Thai girl can still cook SOMETHING!

gallery_39656_2144_173718.jpg

Hope this makes up for it. It certainly made me feel better! :biggrin:

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Most of the ones I've made do, but I know there are apparently many versions that use (gasp) ketchup instead ...

A Google search for "pad thai ketchup" turns up a bunch. Let me know how it goes.

Why no tamarind?

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I'm also wondering why no tamarind? The best-tasting recipes will have tamarind, although you could substitute lime juice (taste as you go).

What turned my pad thai around was Pim's entry on the topic. It's less of a recipe and more of a guide, and it's very helpful.

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Tamarind is sweet-sour so palm sugar and lemon (or lime) juice should give an approximation to the components, which is why I recommended the recipe above.

Ketchup had as much flavor in its own right as tamarind but in a way different direction and probably with too little acid/sourness. I'd assume that it could take it too far from the traditional flavor profile.

I've seen reference on the net to a substitute of equal parts dried apricots, prunes, dates, and lemon juice as a substitute as well.

If the reason you can't use it is availability rather than taste/allergy you could also try substituting equal parts lime/sugar/worcestershire sauce (the latter using tamarind liberally in the flavor profile). Although if I criticize ketchup for taking the dish in new flavor directions, worcestershire sauce should probably fit into the same category.

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i hacked apart Moulton's recipe to give you what i think you want. The pickled radish is really integral to the dish. The key to making great pad thai is control and the ability to rapidly bring the dish together so i suggest your mise en place is perfect and you read this whole thing before starting. I would also be ready to add more or less of the ketchup/vinegar/sugar mixture for a wetter or drier pad thai depending on your tastes. Fried garlic is extremely great as a pad thai garnish, too. Let me know if you have any questions or don't understand this. It's difficult to adapt this kind of street dish to home cooking with such different equipment, and get the same results. I'm thinking you are after the typical american lower-end thai restaurant style pad thai.

Hacked Pad Thai Recipe

Ingredients

Thanks for the detailed post. How much pickled radish do I add?

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I've heard the cook's illustrated version is pretty authentic...unfortunately I haven't been able to find it

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For a typical restaurant plate serving, you would use about 1T of pickled radish per large serving. See recipe below.

The Cook's Illustrated Pad Thai recipe is found in there Best Recipe book. It is fairly authentic. The interesting thing about Pad Thai is that many of the recipes for it were developed in the US before ingredients like tamarind paste were widely available. It is amazing the number of people who do not like authentic pad Thai as much as they enjoy the ketchup pad Thai, because so many Thai joints sell that version.

A terrible problem with Thai food in the United States is the lack of skilled chefs practicing Thai cuisine (much like Chinese food here). Terrible thai food is pervasive here, from Manhattan to Mississippi. I have a much greater grasp of thai cuisine that I think most Thais, simply because nobody cooks in Thailand who is lower middle class or above. They simply purchase their meals on the way home from a street vendor or have their housekeeper cook. 99% of Thai immigrants to the US are not the poorer people who cook for a living. Most Thai restaurants are started on a whim by people who never cooked for a living in Thailand. Once after making a curry paste by hand with mortar and pestle, a pricey Thai restaurant owner/friend remarked, "oh just open a can, so much easier."

If you are deeply interested in Thai food THE book to own is Thai Food by David Thompson ISBN: 1580084621. It is very heavy on text, but you will understand Thai food and it's history more than most Thais after reading it. Just don't go making your own shrimp paste, your neighbors will not be happy.

I think my post with the recipe is deleted because it uses too many of Moulton's words. Here is a recipe I just wrote but haven't tested, since I rarely cook "Ketchup pad thai" these days, and never used a recipe when I did. If i have a chance to test this and refine it in the next few days I will post again.

Cheap Thai Restaurant Pad Thai

-Michael Strong

Make sauce:

1:1:1:1:1 volumetric ratio of: Thai Fish sauce, Sugar (brown or white), ketchup, vinegar (apple or white), lemon juice.

Adjust the taste of the sauce to be balanced in sweet, salty, and tart flavors.

For each big serving (I cook most of this over med high heat):

Heat 2-3 T oil in wok drop in an egg, scramble and chop at until cooked just firm.

Throw in some pre-soaked rice noodles and enough sauce to give you a more wet or more dry dish. Stir briefly until noodles are coated.

Add diced salty pickled radish 1T.

Cook briefly, stirring constantly until sauce is reduced to your desired consistency (30 sec-2 min).

Dump immediately into plate and top with chopped scallions, diced-fried garlic, quick blanched bean sprouts, chopped cilantro, and 1-2T of ground peanuts. Garnish with a lemon or lime. Serve with container of thai ground red chili (not finely ground cayenne, something closer to red pepper flakes if you're in a pinch). If you are fixing this for multiple people, it is really necessary to prepare everything in advance and possibly provide all the garnish at the table for individual service, then the pad thai can be cooked and served a la minute. It does not hold well at all.


Edited by Strong (log)

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hmm, in Australia, we have a lot of authentic Thai places (and we also had David Thompson before he went to London).

I've never seen ketchup used in Pad Thai and cannot imagine it: the recipe that I recommended is in the tradition of what we see. Perhaps it's worth a try ...

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Bumping this up as I think we're making pad thai for dinner. No kids, so we can turn up the heat.

One of the recipes I'm looking at uses banana blossoms. Has anyone tried that?

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I have not tried it with banana blossom. I think it would add to the textural crunch of the dish. If you have not seen this video of the woman making and serving pad thai from her little boat - trust me - take the 4 minutes:

.

Also on the heat factor, my understanding has always been that the heat component is determined by the diner and that the dish contains no chili in the cooking process. Of course my Thompson is in storage along with all the other Thai books...

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That video was great!

I have not tried it with banana blossom. I think it would add to the textural crunch of the dish.

It wasn't in good shape, so the crunch came from other stuff, including a hefty dose of pickled radish.

Also on the heat factor, my understanding has always been that the heat component is determined by the diner and that the dish contains no chili in the cooking process. Of course my Thompson is in storage along with all the other Thai books...

Not sure what's authentic or not -- whatever that means -- but I definitely remember ground, roasted chile pepper in at least one version in Thailand.... I'll check Thompson tonight and see what he's got to say.

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