It’s coming to that time of year where my posts may become a little more sporadic, owing to the fact that I’m outside gardening and enjoying our “still new” yard. It’ll be our second summer here and I’m determined to squeeze every ounce (or 28.35 gram for you metric folks) of wild beauty and produce from our garden. I’m determined to make our yard into a food forest. We’ve spent the past 4 days hauling 8 tonnes of dirt all over the place, building a garden paddock to keep the beasties at bay, planting freeby orphan plants around and waging a war against the daylilies that owned our yard until recently. Don’t get me wrong, daylilies are pretty, but other than that they’re not good for much and DAMN they spread. Their little orange petals mocked us last summer as they bloomed for a week and then died, their brown shriveled leaves blanketing the yard, making it look like someone came in and sprayed herbicide all over everything. Not this year! This year we’ve cut them back dramatically and have added all sorts of wonderful plants to vary the structure of the garden (both horizontally and vertically). I’m pretty excited to see how things turn out.
Anyway, enough of my disjointed gardening banter. But I’m assuming you read this blog for foody stuff, so let’s get focused. As I hinted at in the first line of this post, I’ve been pretty busy out in the yard, which means two things: 1) I haven’t really been thinking about food other than shoving whatever’s available down my craw once I come in covered in dirt, and 2) owing to the fact that I’ve been covered in dirt, I haven’t been grocery shopping much, so we’ve been living off fridge scraps and our well-stocked cupboards (Darling is starting to learn the value of a bulging pantry, FINALLY!). You’ll see how this is relevant in a minute. But first, how I feel about pad thai.
I’ve never liked pad thai. Whenever I’ve tried it, it’s been too sour, too sweet, or, even worse, totally tasteless. I’ve discovered though, as I age, that my tastes are changing. In light of this revelation, I’ve ruled that I need to try everything again, no matter how distasteful my brain tells me it is (obviously within my ethical boundaries). So I’ve been trying guacamole (which contains raw avocado and tomato, two things I’m still not quite sold on), raw onions, mushrooms, coriander/cilantro, and every other once-much-hated ingredient I can find (for those perceptive ones in the audience, you’ll understand why I dislike most traditional Mexican dishes). I’ve learned that I no longer hate some of these ingredients (mushrooms), I can tolerate some more than I used to though I still dislike them (avocado) and I still REALLY HATE others (cilantro – GAH, ick ick ick). What’s my point after three paragraphs? My point is this: after gardening all day and not having much food in the house, I decided to whip up some pad thai, since that was pretty well what my fridge and pantry were saying to me. I didn’t look anything up, I just threw a bunch of ingredients that each whispered “I’ll be really good in your BBQed version of pad thai, I swear!” in my ear. Here’s a quick aside – I learned two things just now: 1) a cute clipart image of a whispering carrot costs 30$ and 2) Googling “whispering food” picks up some pretty interesting/weird/disturbing images. Needless to say, you’re not going to see any whispering carrots, because momma didn’t raise no foo’ (a.k.a. there are about 8 thousand better uses for 30$ than buying a whispering carrot). Aside over.
Assuming you’re in the mood for a smoky, sweet and sour pad thai, let’s get cooking. By the way, this can be a one-wok meal if you want it to be. Just follow the cooking order and voilà! You don’t even need to wash the wok, I swear. Well, in the end you do, don’t be gross.
- 1 package dried bean curd sheets, whacked a few times to break them into smaller pieces (but not too small!). These break apart and mimic the chewy bounciness that is generally contributed by the scrambled egg in the more traditional, non-jazzy pad thai.
- 1 tbsp sea salt (Note: I keep a small covered dish [actually a miniature, teal Le Creuset knock-off pot - I'm in love with it] full of kosher sea salt on the back of my stove. My mom’s had a salt holder in the shape of an egg for as long as I can remember, so I thank her for this particular kitchen tip, because it’s the best thing ever when you’re cooking – thanks Mom!)
Rehydrate the bean curd sheets in a large, covered pot of water (or wok!) and sea salt over low heat for about 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.
- 1/2 or a full package rice noodles, depending on how noodly you like your dishes
- 1 tsp sea salt
Toss the rice noodles into a pot (or wok!) of boiling salted water, cook for about 8 minutes (al dente) and then drain, rinse and set aside.
In your wok, which is now over medium-high heat, combine the following after allowing 1 tbsp canola or coconut oil to preheat:
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp lemongrass paste
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
Stir, stir, stir, then add:
- 1/2 cup veggie broth
- 1 tsp sriracha (spicy chili sauce)
- 1-2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (depending on how sweet you like your pad thai)
- 4 tbsp ketchup (yes, ketchup)
- 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp smoked nori (this is where the BBQ comes in. If you don’t have smoked nori, then use smoked paprika or smoked dried garlic. Hell, even use a drop of hickory if you need to. Yes I realize that this is not your average pad thai ingredient, but trust me, it’s good.)
- 1 tsp soya sauce (have some on hand for garnish too since everyone likes their pad thai different)
- 1 tsp lime juice (have some on hand for garnish too)
- About 1/4 cup diced roasted peanuts or cashews (plus more for garnish)
Stir, stir, stir, then add:
- The precooked “egg”, a.k.a. bean curd sheets
- About 5-6 cups of chopped veggies. These can include carrots, celery, bok choy, Chinese broccoli, “regular” broccoli, green beans, bean sprouts – you get the idea.
Stir, stir, stir, then add the noodles once the veggies have cooked down a little (about 3-5 minutes). Stir, stir, stir to ensure the sauce has coated everything, then taste to ensure it’s as you want it, adjust the sweet/sour/ketchup balance by adding sweet if it’s too spicy, etc. then serve, sprinkling the finished product with a few more chopped nuts and a squirt of lime juice. And…*shudder* add some sprigs of cilantro, if you must.