Pad Thai at home – who needs takeout?

Up till now in this month of Thai cooking, I’ve been trying to cook some unusual dishes that you might not find in a typical Thai restaurant in the U.S.  But I have to admit that the common noodle dishes are often my favorite, particularly Pad Thai and Pad Kee Mao (“drunken noodles”).  So tonight, I made a big dish of Pad Thai and it was delicious, if I DO say so myself :)

This whole project is becoming a problem, though — it used to be that I didn’t really like eating out at the typical “American food” places, because they serve items I could make at home, and make better.  Now that I’m learning how to make these international dishes too, eating out even at those restaurants is starting to seem less desirable. Why go out when you can make it yourself much cheaper, and to your particular tastes/allergies/preferences?

I followed the recipe on this website, http://www.thaitable.com/Thai/recipes/Pad_Thai.htm  The page includes a lot of good tips, ways to make it vegetarian, substitutions you can use, etc.  You can use any type of rice noodle, but I think typically Pad Thai is made with a narrow flat noodle, kind of like the shape of linguine.

Tamarind is an ingredient you might not have on hand, but shown to the right is a concentrated tamarind sauce that I recently found at an Asian market. Prior to finding this, I would take tamarind pulp – which has seeds and everything, soak it in water, then mush it around to make my own paste. But then you have to sift out the seeds and remaining hard parts, and it’s just kind of a pain. With this concentrated solution, you just stir to mix and pour out what you need – much easier! Tamarind adds a sour taste to the dish, which is also accentuated by squeezing a lime wedge over the hot noodles just before eating.  This recipe did make about 3 servings, as mentioned with the recipe.

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