Chicken Pad Thai Noodles
Pad Thai noodles is my kind of comfort food. It's filling, flavorful and easy to make in veggie and non-veg versions. The noodles used in this dish are large rice noodles that are soaked until softened. They are sautéed in a thick, syrupy sweet sauce made of tamarind, sugar, chile and limes.
To complete the meal, I added chicken sauteed in oyster sauce and fish sauce, which balances the saltiness of the Pad Thai sauce. This rice noodle dish freezes very well, so you will never order take-out again!
Yields: 8 servings1 pound dried vermicelli rice noodles (see tips)
¼ cup canola oil (or any neutral oil), as needed
1 pound chicken (breast and thighs), boneless and skinless
½ teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoons tapioca starch
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
6 tablespoons tamarind concentrate (see tips)
10 tablespoons palm sugar (or light brown sugar), freshly grated
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste (see tips)
2 teaspoons sambal oelek (see tips)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 fresh kaffir lime leaf (optional), finely chopped
2 red Thai bird chiles, to taste
¼ cup green onions
1 yellow onion, cut into thin wedges
1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
juice of 2 limes
Prepping the dried rice noodles: When uncooked, the glass noodles look grayish. Place the long noodles in a large bowl and soak them in cold water about 30 minutes. This step will help soften the noodles. Drain through a colander and discard the liquid. Set aside.
Prepping the fresh chiles: Stem, seed and finely chop the chile pepper. Note: Remember not to rub your eyes after touching the chile pepper seeds.
Making the Pad Thai sauce: In a small bowl, dissolve the palm sugar (or light brown sugar) in ½ cup boiling water. Let the water cool to room temperature. Add the tamarind paste, juice of a lime and sambal oelek.
For the chicken:
Pound the chicken using a meat tenderizer mallet. Cut into thin strips. Place the chicken in a bowl . Add red chili powder. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
Wash, trim and cut the green onions into 1-½"-pieces. Set aside.
Pat dry with paper towel. Spread the chicken on a platter. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with 2 teaspoons tapioca starch. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a wok. Place the pieces of chicken in the wok. Make sure that the pieces aren't overlapping so they'll become a nice golden color. Sauté them over high heat. Add fresh chiles, 2 tablespoons green onions and oyster sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a serving plate. Set aside.
In the same wok, add the ginger garlic paste and kaffir lime leaf. Cook until fragrant. Add the shiitake mushrooms. Stir fry until they are slightly translucent. Season with salt. Toss well.
Add more oil to the wok if necessary. Stir fry the remaining green onions until it is golden. Add the drained rice noodles. Add fish sauce, the juice of half a lime and light brown sugar. Toss using spatulas positioned on either side of the wok to prevent the food from sticking to the bottom. Cook for another minute. Drizzle with about 1 cup chicken broth, then toss until the liquid evaporates. Check the doneness of the noodles. If they're still al dente, drizzle more chicken broth (or water) until they're the desired texture. Add the onions wedges. Toss well until the onion softens.
Add the shiitake mushrooms, chicken and Pad Thai sauce. Check the texture of the sauce, it should be thick and syrupy. If you find the sauce to be too thick, add up 4 tablespoons of water (or more chicken broth). Turn off the heat. Cover the wok and let sit for about 2-3 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
Add the cilantro, finish with the remaining lime juice and drizzle a dash of sesame oil.
Sprinkle with black pepper and roasted peanuts.
Garnish with lime slices.
You could add also thin strips of flank steak sautéed with sliced onions or some shrimp (instead of chicken).
I prefer using the dried bánh phở rice noodles. I buy the Ba Co Gai (Three Ladies) brand. For this particular dish, I usually cook with large-sized flat rice noodles. You can find this brand in most Asian stores.
All the ingredients should be cut the same size so the dish looks homogeneous.
Make sure the temperature is always on high so the noodles don't become soggy and watery.
I use ginger garlic paste a lot in my cooking. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean the ginger (about a 2-inch chunk), carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, then finely chop the root. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.
The soy sauce brings saltiness to the dish and a nice amber brown color. My favorite soy sauce is the Da Bo De brand. It has a good flavor and is not too salty. You can find this particular sauce, at Lion Supermarket, 1710 Tully Road, San Jose.
You can find sambal oelek in any Asian market. If you don't have any, you could replace is with chile garlic sauce.
You can find tamarind concentrate in any Asian store. It has a nice tart flavor. You can also use fresh tamarind pods if you like but I find this too labor intensive and not really worth the time.
The addition of the sesame oil at the end brings a nice fragrance to the rice noodles.
You could add seafood to the Pad Thai, such as whole shelled and de-veined shrimp and baby octopus.Published By: on July 21, 2011.