Secrets of making ‘Pad Thai’

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AUBURN — One of the most popular offerings on the menu at the Thai Dish is Pad Thai.

Translated, that’s Thai-style stir-fried noodles.

Noodle cookery was introduced in Thailand by Chinese immigrants from Southeast Asia “who brought with them rice noodles and their way of cooking them,” according to thaifoodandtravel.com.

In her blog on that site, Kasma Loha-unchit writes, “The ethnic Chinese had good business sense, survival skills, and entrepreneurial spirit. Seeing how the Thai people were very fond of the combination of hot, sour, sweet, and salty flavors, they added these to their stir-fried noodle dishes and gave it a fusion name, much like Western chefs today are naming their dishes Thai this or Thai that on their East-West menus.”

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One of the owners of Thai Dish, whose name is Viroj Wiwattanavongsri, although customers know him as Hrung, recently shared his secrets for making a basic Pad Thai. Restaurant Manager Rungtida Tharawut translated for Hrung as he explained the process.

Both are natives of Thailand.

“The basic ingredients for Pad Thai are thin or regular soy sauce, white vinegar, sugar, brown eggs, bean sprouts, fresh scallions and Pad Thai noodles,” said Tharawut. “We can customize it and make it without eggs, nuts, bean sprouts or scallions, but you must have Pad Thai noodles, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. You can add chili powder if you like it spicy or hot chili sauce.”

Tharawut explained that many variations of Pad Thai can be created by using either chicken, beef, pork, shrimp or tofu. She said that many different vegetables can also be added, including broccoli, carrots, onions, bell peppers, baby corn, cabbage or mushrooms.

When making Pad Thai, Hrung said that it’s important to heat the wok on medium high before adding the oil. Next, he said to put soybean or vegetable oil in the pan and allow it to heat for a minute or two.

Once the oil is hot, crack one or two eggs open and put them in the pan. “Cook until almost done and then scramble the eggs,” Tharawut explained. “Then add the meat (cut up in small pieces) and vegetables and stir over high heat until done.”

To expedite the process, boil the meat ahead of time, cooking until tender with no red showing.

After the meat and vegetables are done, Hrung said to add 3 to 4 teaspoons of water and then add a cereal bowl full of Pad Thai noodles to make one large dish of Pad Thai.

A brand new bag of Pad Thai noodles should soak in water at least 6 hours at room temperature before cooking.

If the noodles become too dry during cooking, small amounts of water can be added at a time. Cook until the noodles are soft.

“Now stir fry all the ingredients together and stir in 3 teaspoons soy sauce and 3 teaspoons of vinegar,” said Tharawut. “Then add 3 1/2 to 4 teaspoons sugar (depending on how sweet you want it). Mix it all together to melt the sugar. The noodles will turn golden brown.”

The last step she said is to add a half-handful raw scallions (the green part cut in 1 inch sections) and a handful of bean sprouts. Then mix for a few seconds and turn off the heat. Serve on a plate with ground peanuts sprinkled on top.

The Thai word for “delicious?”

“Aroy!”

Pad Thai

Soybean or vegetable oil

1 cereal bowl Pad Thai noodles

1-2 eggs (depending upon individual preference)

3 teaspoons soy sauce

3 teaspoons white vinegar

3 1/2-4 teaspoons sugar

Half a handful raw scallions (use green part), cut in 1-inch pieces

1 handful bean sprouts

1/2 cup ground peanuts

Chicken tenders, meat, shrimp, or tofu cut in small pieces

Heat wok on medium high. Next add enough soybean or vegetable oil to cover bottom of pan and heat until hot. Crack eggs and drop in pan. Cook eggs until almost done and then scramble.

Add small pieces of half-cooked poultry, meat, shrimp, or small pieces of tofu. Also add desired vegetables. Stir fry until done. Add 3-4 teaspoons of water. Then add cereal bowl full of Pad Thai noodles. Cook until noodles are soft, adding small amounts of water as needed, if noodles dry while cooking.

Next, add the white vinegar and soy sauce and stir fry. Then add the sugar and cook until noodles are golden brown. Finally, add the scallions and sprouts. Mix for a few seconds and turn off the heat.

Serve with ground peanuts on top.

Yields one large plate of Pad Thai.

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