Sunday, December 11, 2011

Primalicious Pad Thai

Pad thai is one of my favorite cheat dishes, since I unfortunately have a place just around the corner that makes it just right. I figured I would try to get as close as possible to the pad thai flavor without incorporating too much "bad." Do keep in mind that the peanuts really are sort of necessary for all the flavors of this dish to tie together, so if you can't handle that particular legume, this unfortunately won't work. I suppose you could try to make it with almonds or macadamia nuts; if you do, and it works, let me know.

This is by no means a "traditional" recipe, though it does use several key ingredients. I wanted to add more protein and more veggies, as well as keep the carb level low. I think it's even more delicious this way.

Note: Please feel free to use this as a jumping off point. Play with the proportions if you want, certainly play with the add-ins. I also wanted to write this as a "how-to", because this is the type of recipe in which you really need your mis-en-place firmly en-place. Trust me on this! It's smooth sailing from there.

Primalicious Pad Thai
serves 2-3 as main course

1/2 c tamari (or coconut aminos, or light soy sauce)
3 Tbsp natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp fish sauce (I like Squid brand, but use your favorite)
2 Tbsp tamarind paste
1 Thai bird chili pepper (optional), or 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
juice of half a lime

1 spaghetti squash
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp grated ginger
2 eggs (whatever size you have is fine)
1 c bean sprouts
1 lime, in wedges, to serve
1/2 c fresh coriander/cilantro, plus more to garnish
4 oz firm sprouted tofu
1/2 lb shelled deveined shrimp
1 c green beans, snow peas, or snap peas
1/2 c grated carrots (optional)
1/4 c sliced red onion or shallots
3 Tbsp raw peanuts
coconut oil

1) Cook your spaghetti squash. My favorite method is to roast it in the oven, but if you don't have the patience, this is just as good: Wash squash and cut in half lengthwise (watch those fingers). Scoop out seeds and fibers. Place cut-side down in microwave-safe container; add about 1/3 c water. Cover with kitchen towel. Microwave on high approx 15 minutes, until completely soft. Leave it in there for at least 10min, it'll be too hot to handle. When cool enough to handle, remove from container and shred with fork into spaghetti strands. Set aside, in colander, to drain while assembling remaining ingredients.

2) To reconstitute tamarind paste: combine 1 Tbsp dried tamarind pulp with 1-2 Tbsp boiling water. Mash up; cover, and set aside for 5-10min. Mash a little more; strain through sieve. This is your tamarind paste.

3) Make sauce: Mix tamari, fish sauce, peanut butter, and tamarind paste with a whisk. Add the juice of half a lime. (If omitting tamarind paste, add a little more, or just adjust to your liking.) Mince chili pepper finely, taking proper precautions. Whisk together with sauce; otherwise, whisk in chili powder. Set aside.

4) Set up your mis-en-place. Trust me. You will need lots of small bowls. The following should each go in their own bowl:
- minced garlic and grated ginger
- lightly whisked eggs
- bean sprouts
- tofu, drained and dried, cut into approx. 1/2" cubes
- shrimp
- beans or peas, julienne (slice green beans in half, julienne snap or snow peas)
- shredded carrots
- finely-sliced onion
- peanuts

I use a steel wok that I seasoned myself, with a curved bottom; you can use any deep skillet or pan. Make sure it can take a high heat well, and that it's easy to lift one-handed. You're going to be picking it up and emptying it between each fried bowl. You don't want it to be too heavy to do that comfortably.

5) Heat wok over high heat. Add 1 tsp coconut oil to wok, swirl around. Add in contents of one bowl; don't touch it. Let it fry for 10-15 seconds, then stir with a wooden spoon or wok spatula until golden brown and cooked through. Return cooked food into the bowl it was in (exception: eggs should go into clean bowl, or into another bowl with already-cooked items). Repeat for all the ingredients above.

6) Place 1 Tbsp coconut oil into wok. Swirl around to coat. Add in drained, shredded spaghetti squash. Leave alone for 20-30 sec. Stir-fry briefly. Pour prepared Sauce over; stir-fry briefly. Add in all remaining ingredients: everything from the bowls, as well as minced coriander. Stir-fry to combine.

Serve immediately with lime wedges, more coriander sprinkled on top, and Sriracha on the side (optional).


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