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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Simple Thai Chicken Stew

I have always lived far. In Delhi I was far away from school, far from tuition classes, so far that my house was in a suburb of a suburb. This pattern filtered into college too. My senior year I lived in the farthest, most secluded apartment building. To be honest, I loved it. Being far meant being away from the mess and living a quiet place. In Delhi, I have a beautiful house amongst verdant greens with all kinds of birds laying their eggs in the crevices of our outer wall, and in college I had the best view. Being far however has its downsides. I always had to travel to meet my friends because all the restaurants were on their side of town. Building a social life therefore was hard. However, all of that changed once I started cooking. In college, friends trekked all the way to my apartment be it rain or shine because I was feeding them. It was kinda nice. I mean, obviously they were coming for my great company but I didn’t mind cooking (yeah, I know it was probably the other way around).

I soon became in charge of the Friday meals. Butter chicken, stews, lasagna, shawarma were things I started cooking a lot because they fed a lot more people. Filling, wholesome food that may or may not be the best pregame meal but hey it made people happy and I always had leftovers. Thai curries are super easy to make. My parents made them with the pre-packaged pastes back when I was in high school and so I always had a palette for what a good curry should taste like. I however always found the pre-packaged pastes to be too overpowering. They tend to have a lot of sugar, salt, stabilizing agents, and food coloring– all things you can definitely do without. Plus, none of the ingredients are “exotic” enough anymore that you have to use the paste to get the authentic flavor. That being said, Thai people- if you ponder upon this recipe I am sorry. It probably isn’t authentic but its the flavors that I like.

There are two things that are important for this recipe. Firstly, the green curry paste you make needs to be made fresh. It’s the only way to attain that lightness that a fat heavy curry like this tends to have. Add local tropical herbs– Coriander, mint, basil, holy basil, green onions, kaffir lime etc. You don’t have to go out and look for the most authentic Thai ingredients. If you can’t find lemongrass substitute with lime. Use green chillies instead of red, lime zest instead of kaffir lime leaves, you get the idea. The aim is to make it fragrant and green using naturally green herbs and vegetables.

Thai Curry_-2

Secondly, get your hands on the best fish sauce possible. Now this needs to be authentic. Thailand is one of the largest exporters of this amazingly salty sauce. It’s made by fermenting fish in brine and adds so much flavor to any dish. But this stew needs this. It cuts the fat of the milk, it adds salt because we don’t salt the food otherwise and it increases the aromatics of the lime, garlic, and ginger almost filling your house with an amazing smell that your grandmother scolds you for because all she smells is rotting fish (she is wrong, trust me).

Thai Curry_-4

Apart from this, I don’t know what else to tell you. Its a super easy dish. If you think you’re going wrong, you aren’t. You’re just making creative modifications 🙂

ps: don’t boil the coconut milk because it will denature

pps: don’t add lemon to very hot coconut milk, or it will make coconut ricotta cheese

pps: always hug your grandmother after spilling fish sauce on yourself so that she smells of rotten fish the whole day.

Ingredients    

Serves 4

1 cup of coriander with stalks

1/4 cup mint leaves (no stalk)

3 green chillies (Thai red chillies work too)

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

Ginger the size of your thumb nail. Peeled and chopped

4 green onions finely chopped

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/2 a lime worth of juice or a stalk of lemon grass pressed down until aromatic

2 teaspoons of lime zest or a few kaffir lime leaves

1 teaspoon of vegetable oil

For the stew 

3 (about 450 grams) chicken breasts or thighs

600 ml of Coconut milk

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of Honey (optional)

2 tablespoons of Sriracha (optional)

150 grams (about 8) large cremini mushrooms

1 large carrot

1/2 green bell pepper

1/2 yellow bell pepper

1 cup of Broccoli florets

11/2 cup Basmati Rice

Preparation 

Step 1

Start by making the paste. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blitz it down to a coarse paste. It will not look like something you get in a jar because this have very little oil but trust the process

Step 2

Take the chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and rub well on both sides. In a flat bottom pot add half the veggie oil and let it heat. Place the chicken skin side down and let them cook 2 minutes on each side. The idea is for the skin to get color but it to be uncooked on the inside. The insides will cook later in the stew.

Step 3

Once cooked, let the chicken sit out for about 10 minutes and then cut into thin slices. Add the rest of the oil, the paste and vegetables. stir fry on high heat until the carrots start becoming a little soft.

Step 4

Reduce heat to medium-low and add coconut milk. Add chicken, fish sauce, Sriracha, and honey. Mix and let the stew bubble. Shut off heat and taste the curry. Add more Sriracha if you want more heat or add more honey if it’s too hot. Serve with Basmati rice.