I've been fairly obsessed with Thai food this summer. And by fairly obsessed I mean I can't get through the day without having visions of peanut sauce, have been wanting to bathe in curry and coconut milk, and all but screaming "Sali Thai!" when friends ask where I want to meet for lunch. Maybe it was missing all of those delicious umami flavors while I was in Spain, maybe it's my new found appreciation for spices and spicy tastes, maybe little Thai elves sneak into my room at night like they do in that story about the shoes and cook up a delicious feast, filling my subconscious with desire, but I'm hooked.
I think part of the reason I like asian foods so much is that there's a sense of mystery about them. Not mystery like "What kind of meat is this?" but mystery like "I don't think I could ever make this it's so damn good." The ingredients are usually far outside my culinary comfort zone and the flavors are so complex and engaging that I don't think I could ever replicate them myself. In short, I'm just kind of intimidated.
Pad thai is the opposite of intimidating. It's welcoming and assuring, just begging for you to make it and begin your asian culinary repertoire. Pad thai is nearly impossible to mess up and its a perfect summer meal because its light and refreshing yet surprisingly filling. I adapted my recipe liberally from Martha Stewart's. I use frozen, precooked shrimp -insert horrified gasps from readers here- because I have no money and they're dirt cheap, but if you can afford, it cook up some raw shrimp because it's probably a zillion times better. And most importantly, have no fear. Asian food is not out to get you or me or us. Trust me, if I can do this, so can you.
Easy Shrimp Pad Thai
Adapted, barely, from Martha Stewart
1 package (13 oz) of "rice sticks" from Trader Joe's or any kind of flat rice noodle
Frozen, precooked shrimp, de-thawed
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons lime juice
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 green onions, white and green parts separated, finely chopped
3-4 large eggs (optional, and quantity depending on how "eggy" you like your pad thai)
1 cup fresh chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup chopped, salted, roasted peanuts
Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions (do not over cook). Drain and set aside.
Make sauce by whisking together soy sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add the white parts of the green onions and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 2-4 minutes. Add eggs. Cook until almost set, about 3 minutes. Remove egg mixture; set aside on a plate.
Add noodles and sauce to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add egg mixture, green onions and cilantro, and cooked shrimp. Cook until shrimp is warmed through. Sprinkle with peanuts and reserved cilantro and serve.