Pad Thai

Today I begin my first full time job. I will be working in digital marketing in a PR company and while four years ago, I wouldn’t even think of this as a potential occupation, my experiences and degrees suggest otherwise. One of the things people have started telling me is that “Oh, Archit now that you have started working you will have no time.” I found this constant opinion that in college I had time and now I won’t, hilarious. College was hard y’all! I’m not going to lie, my last semester was a lot less busy but every other semester, I was constantly moving from a class to a meeting to working on homework. In fact, because I lived on campus I didn’t even have commuting time which I could use as respite from constant engagement.

In all this craziness, I also had to keep myself fed which meant either eating the same food in cafeterias or actually cooking. While I love cooking, it’s a little time consuming: prepping, the actual act of cooking, and washing dishes all add up. Therefore, I had to think of recipes that needed less equipment and minimal prep time. Enter Pad Thai. All it needs is rice noodles, any (or all) of the veggies you have in your fridge, and a sauce with which to caramelize everything. The important thing here is the sauce. All the flavors are introduced by the sauce which means it needs to hit the three palette tenets of asian food- spice, sweet, and savory. The traditional pad thai recipe asks for tamarind paste but I substitute that with lime juice and rice vinegar which simulate the tang and acidity of tamarind.

I miss original thai food all the time. One of my favorite places to eat in college was a small thai restaurant called Royal Thai, which was run by this tiny but energetic woman that we called “Thai Queen.” She used to love us and always gave us free refills of thai iced tea. I do miss college, but food like this keeps those memories alive. This week I had an unique opportunity to head back to Denison and begin a life there but I chose against it. I do believe that I made a good choice of starting a life in a country that does accept me but I guess only time will tell how smart of a choice this was.

Anyway, I hope you like recipe and give it a try. I have been hearing back from people who have been making some of the recipes and I am excited that you seem to like them. Send me pictures so that I can blog about them!

Pad Thai

 

Ingredients

Serving Size: 2 people

4 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoons Sriracha

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic minced

2 red chillies or 3 green chillies

200 g of chicken breast or shrimp

2 well beaten eggs

15 large cremini mushrooms sliced thinly

1/2 red or green peppers

250 g of rice noodles (3 mins on boil)

6 Spring onions

handful of coarsely chopped cilantro

handful coarsely chopped peanuts

Preparation

Step 1

Boil noodles for 3 minutes or as per package instructions.

Step 2

To make the sauce: add sriracha, fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, and sugar. Mix well.

Step 3

In a wok, add oil and heat on high until oil begins to smoke. Add Shrimp or chicken and cook a minute under it’s done. Remove protein, and add garlic, ginger, and all the veggies. Cook well and add rice noodles. Add the Beat the egg whites in the center along with your pad thai sauce

Step 4

Reduce the heat and let the sauce caramelize. Mix well and serve with peanuts.

 

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Chai Spice Chicken with an Orange Soy Sauce

My last year in college was when I started taking cooking very seriously. I had to cook everyday than just something I do when I have a craving. I therefore had to move from just pastas and sandwiches to things that were a little more healthier. I felt the need to stop eating cheese and wheat and so I looked at more rice based recipes. Stir fry’s were one of the most popular things that popped up when I searched for rice based dinners. They are amazingly easy dishes which don’t need a lot of elements for them to be good. They can be customized with your favorite proteins, veggies, and sauces to make them fit your palette. This means that once you have an idea of how to cook the dish, you can create your own renditions. Donal Skehan is the king of easy dinner and stir fry recipes. He uses great ingredients, appreciates complex flavors yet makes it easy enough for a novice cook to give it a shot. One of his dishes was a five spice orange chicken stir fry. He marinades and cooks the chicken in garlic, sesame oil, and a five spice mix— an asian blend of cloves, star anise, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel. Further, he stir fries a variety of veggies adds the fragrant chicken and mixes with a sauce made of soy, orange juice, and sugars. The chicken takes in the flavors of the garlic and cinnamon, while the star anise and cloves add aromatics making the chicken a great tasting and great smelling protein. On the other hand, the orange reduces the saltiness of the soy sauce and adds flavor to the sugars we add that caramelize into this thick sticky sauce coating each element equally.

On paper (and video), this recipe sounded amazing but I soon realized that I don’t own any five spice or have raw spices to make my own. I also lived in the middle of nowhere Ohio and without a car, getting some spice for just this recipe would be hard (and SO much work). After perusing my pantry I found some Chai Spice that I probably brought from India. It was a blend of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and black pepper. Essentially things that on puts in a hot cup of tea in the freezing cold or in the rains. This seemed promising. I added some streaky bacon to the chicken. It imparts some fat and smokiness. The fat melts away and reduces the amount of oil we use. Instead of fresh orange juice, I used Tropicana. It’s sweeter and tastes the same every time I make it. The last adjustment I made was to reduce the amount of sugar. Donal puts a lot of sugar, to a point where I wonder if he even eats the food he makes because his physique does not match his affinity for ingredients diabetics cant eat. Reducing the sugar doesn’t reduce its taste. It makes it a little less sticky but I kind of like that because then I can cover all my rice in the sauce. Un-sauced rice gives me hiccups haha!

Chai Spice-2

When should you make this:

  1. Daily meal! It’s an amazing dinner meal that is easy to whip up
  2. Date night. It has just enough elements that your date would be super impressed even though you really aren’t doing much

I hope you are all liking these recipes. Let me know how you made it!

Ingredients

Serves 2

2 chicken thighs, boneless & skinless, cut in bitesize pieces

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, finely minced.

1 red chili, finely sliced

2 tsp Chai Spice (or ground up cinnamon, black pepper, star anise, and cloves)

1 tsp sesame oil

1-2 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying

Basmati Rice, to serve

For the sauce:

1/4 cup Orange Juice (no pulp)

2 tsp honey

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp Sriracha

For the vegetables:

1 red onion, finely sliced

8 large button or cremini mushrooms

1 medium green/red/yellow pepper cut lengthwise

1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned

Preparation

Step 1

Marinade the chicken. In a bowl add chicken, garlic, sesame oil, and chai spice. Mix well, cover, and leave in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Step 2

Add orange juice, honey, soy sauce, sriracha, and rice vinegar. Mix well. Its okay if the sugar doesn’t completely dissolve.

Step 3

Add half the amount of veggie oil in a skillet and wait until the pan is smoking. Add the chicken. Don’t move the chicken at all. Cook for about 3 minutes on one side until a nice brown color appears on the surface. Flip the chicken and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the chicken but keep the juices of the pan.

Step 4

Add the veggies and flash cook them Add more oil if needed. Bring back the chicken. Make a tiny well in the middle of the pan and add the sauce. Reduce the heat and let the sauce caramelize. Two minutes would be enough. Remove from pan and serve with rice.