Pad Thai with Shrimp

27 Jul

The headline of this entry should probably be “Kim finally figures out rice noodles and smacks herself in the head as a result.”

Rice noodles are just that–noodles made of rice–and if you’ve ever had Pad Thai at a restaurant or eaten any other Thai noodle or gluten-free pasta dish, you’ve had them. They’re clear-ish and a smidge more al dente than wheat noodles (if they’re cooked right), and until last night, they were the bane of my culinary existence.

There are two sets of directions on the back of the box. You can either soak these noodles in hot water for about a half-hour and then finish cooking them in a wok or skillet with whatever sauce you’re using, or you can boil the noodles just like you’d cook spaghetti. I’ve been a boiler–it’s my comfort zone–and have always ended up with noodles that taste good, but clumped up into random chewy lumps that made me grimace and my kids howl.

Last night, I tried the hot water soak. And I have to tell you, I wasn’t optimistic when after 30 minutes in a bowl of very hot tap water, the noodles were still stiff and inedible. Wracking my brain for a fast plan-B dinner, I followed the directions and drained the water off and then stir-fried the noodles in the Pad Thai sauce, and somewhere around minute 6, a miracle happened. The noodles softened and soaked up the sauce, and the Pad Thai was perfectly al dente with nary a chewy lump.

The rest of this started as a Weight Watchers recipe. It was too salty for me and called for peanuts and bean sprouts, neither of which I’m wild about in this dish (you can add them at the end if you like them). It was also super dry, and I like my noodles with a little more sauce to them, and it was way too hot for the kids to eat, so I toned down the spice. This would be great with tofu or chicken if shrimp isn’t your thing. My fiddled-with version follows.

My kids love this dinner, so it’s a staple in our house. This recipe feeds four of us for two nights–it reheats really well. Hope you like it too.

Pad Thai with Shrimp

16-oz box rice noodles (find them in your Thai/Chinese aisle)

2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined (I use frozen peeled cooked shrimp from Trader Joe’s)

6 scallions, chopped (only the green parts)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 tbsp Thai fish sauce (same aisle as the rice noodles)

4 tbsp sugar

1/2 tbsp hot chili sauce

1 1/2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

Soak your rice noodles according to the directions on the package. Have faith–they’ll cook up fine.

Whisk together fish sauce, sugar, soy sauce, and hot chili sauce, and set aside.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the shrimp (if you’re using uncooked shrimp; hold off if you cheat like me and used cooked). Cook shrimp about 3 minutes, until pink and opaque. Add scallions and garlic and cook about 10 seconds (really–don’t burn the garlic).

Push the shrimp, garlic, and scallions to the edges of the pan, and pour the eggs into the center. Scramble them until they’re just set. Give your sauce mixture a quick whisk and pour it into the pan. Stir fry about 1 minute to let everything mix together, and then toss in your noodles. Toss and stir fry those until they soften up; this took about 6 minutes for us using a large wok. If you’re using pre-cooked shrimp, add those next and stir until they’re just hot. Remove from heat and enjoy.

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