Last week I was thrilled to have Aida Mollenkamp over to my kitchen for a cooking lesson. Aida and I met while doing a segment on The Nate Berkus show and she was kind enough to accept my invitation to share one of her recipes with all of you. It’s not every day that a Food Network star comes over to cook with me and even rarer that I’ve got things like Fish Sauce and Tofu on my shopping list. The end result, while slightly threatening to me in concept was actually quite easy to create once you know how (also it helps to have a trained professional cooking it for you whilst you sip iced tea lazily at the counter and gossip about fellow food bloggers, but that’s neither here nor there). I encourage you readers to try this one at home, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the cacophony of color and flavor and feel pretty pleased at your new skill set with Thai food.
Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai
Makes: 4 to 6 servings (scant 2/3 cup sauce)
Total Time: 25 minutes
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Here’s What You’ll Need
For the Sauce:
1/4 Cup Water
3 Tbls Fish Sauce (nam pla) – I got this at Whole Foods but most Asian sections of your local supermarket should have it
2 Packed Tbls Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tbls Tamarind Concentrate* – Aida brought this with her to our cooking party, then subsequently left it behind, I hope it wasn’t worth millions!
1 1/2 Tbls Chili Powder or Paprika - I LOVED the flavor of the chili powder it was so unexpected and it packed a punch!
For the Pad Thai:
6 Oz Dry Rice stick noodles (aka banh pho) (can use fettuccini in a pinch)
3 Tbls Canola, Grapeseed, or Peanut Oil, Plus more for noodles
4 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 Medium Red Onion, sliced paper thin
12 Oz Peeled and Deveined Raw Shrimp w/ tails removed
2 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
6 Oz Extra Firm Tofu, Patted dry and cut into paper thin strips
1 Cup Bean Sprouts
3/4 Oz (1 small bunch) chives, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths
For serving (all optional):
A handful of fresh cilantro leaves
1 Lime, cut into 6 wedges
3 Tbls Coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
For the sauce:
Combine everything in a small saucepan and place over low heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved then increase heat to medium. When it simmers, taste and add more tamarind if you want it more sour, add more fish sauce for more funk, or more sugar for more sweetness. Once it is where you like it, remove from heat and set aside.
(Sauce can be made up to 1 week ahead. Store refrigerated until ready to use. This amount of sauce is good for 6 ounces of noodles.)
For the Pad Thai:
Soak the noodles in hot water for about 5 to 10 minutes until they are pliable and al dente but not totally soft. (You don’t want to over soak them here or they’ll become mushy when you stir fry them.) Drain, toss with a drizzle of the oil and set aside.
Before you begin, have all your ingredients prepared because things move quickly once you start cooking. You’ll want to make this in two batches to get the best results, so have all the ingredients divided in half. With half of the ingredients, do the following:
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot (the garlic will immediately sizzle when added), add the garlic, onion, and bell pepper and cook, stirring a few times, until garlic is golden brown.
Add the shrimp and cook, stirring a few times until just beginning to turn pink.
Push shrimp and vegetables to one side and pour in the egg. Let cook until just beginning to set then stir into shrimp mixture.
Immediately reduce heat to medium-low, then add the tofu, noodles and sauce and stir and toss to coat everything in the sauce.
Stir in the bean sprouts and chives, and cook for a few seconds, until chives just begin to wilt.
Immediately divide among two or three bowls serve, topped, as desired, with cilantro, a sprinkle of peanuts. Serve a wedge of lime on the side.
Wipe out pan, return to stove and repeat with remaining ingredients.
Want more recipes from Aida?? Check out here website HERE and be sure and buy her new cookbook when it comes out this fall!!
*Note: You can find tamarind concentrate or pulp in many markets these days. If using tamarind concentrate, just add it to the ingredients called for in the sauce. If using tamarind pulp, soak it in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes. Then squeeze the pulp to extract the juice. Strain the mixture, discarding the solids and using the juice. If you can’t find either form of tamarind, use 3 tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lime juice instead though it will result in a less complex sauce.