COOK YOUR OWN DELICIOUS CHICKEN PAD THAI
Eat at almost any restaurant in Thailand and you’ll see Pad Thai, in all variations, on the menu. This popular dish is a firm favourite for tourists, especially for those who prefer non-spicy food. Chicken Pad Thai, as well as shrimp, pork and vegetable Pad Thai are probably one of the most popular dishes to eat on Koh Phangan. It’s quick to cook, filling and delicious. You’ll recognise all the ingredients used in the dish too. So, if you’re new to Asian cuisine you’ll take comfort in knowing exactly what you are eating.
Whether you dine at a high-end restaurant on the island, or opt for a more authentic dining experience at the local Saturday Night Market, Pad Thai will be available. Generally speaking, Pad Thai is not spicy. However, if you do like your food to have a bit of a kick, you can always add in fresh chilli or sprinkle on chilli flakes when the dish is served.
If you’ve had a taste of this wonderful dish during your travels, why not recreate your fond memories when you get back home. Here is a great recipe for Chicken Pad Thai, but you can replace the chicken with pork, shrimp or tofu if you prefer.
8 ounces Thai rice noodles (or enough for 2 people), linguini-width
1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped chicken breast or thigh
4 cloves garlic, minced
Optional: 1-2 fresh red chillies, minced
3 cups fresh bean sprouts
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup fresh coriander/cilantro
1/3 cup crushed or roughly chopped peanuts (or other nuts, such as cashews)
1/4 cup chicken stock
Vegetable oil for stir-frying
Marinade for Chicken: 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons. soy sauce
Wedges of lime
Pad Thai Sauce:
3/4 tablespoon tamarind paste dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (look for tamarind at Asian/Chinese or Indian food stores)
3 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1-3 teaspoon chili sauce, OR 1/2 teaspoon or more dried crushed chili or cayenne, to taste
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1. Make Pad Thai Sauce by combining sauce ingredients together in a cup. Stir well to dissolve tamarind and brown sugar. Taste-test for a tangy balance between sweet and sour. Add more sugar if too sour, or more tamarind if too sweet.
2. Bring a large pot of pot to boil and dunk in rice noodles. Stir to separate. Only cook until they are soft enough to be eaten but just barely: still firm and a little “crunchy” (they will finish cooking later in the pan). Drain and rinse well with cold water to prevent sticking. Set aside.
3. Place chicken slices in a small bowl. Stir together the marinade and pour over chicken. Stir well and set aside.
4. Warm up a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil plus garlic and minced chili, if using. Stir-fry until fragrant (30 seconds). Add marinated chicken. When wok/pan becomes dry, add a little chicken stock. Stir-fry 5-7 minutes, until chicken is cooked.
5. Add noodles and pour Pad Thai Sauce over. Using two utensils, use a gentle “lift and turn” method to fry noodles (like tossing a salad). Stir-fry in this way 5 minutes, or until noodles are chewy ‘al dente’. If you find your pan too dry, add a little more oil.
6. Add bean sprouts and continue frying 1 more minute, or until noodles are cooked. Noodles are done to perfection when they taste chewy and a little sticky. Taste-test for seasoning, adding more fish sauce until your desired flavor is reached (I usually add up to 1 tablespoon fish sauce).
7. Top with generous sprinklings of fresh coriander, spring onion, and crushed/chopped nuts. Add fresh lime wedges to be squeezed over your chicken Pad Thai before eating.
Pad Thai Tip: For even more flavor, I’ll often make a double batch of the pad Thai sauce. Then, as I’m stir-frying the noodles, I’ll add more sauce until I’m happy with the taste (I also add extra fish sauce). Any leftover sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.