Sponsored Post: I was given a case of free sauces from World Foods in exchange for writing a series of recipes. I didn't end up using the sauce in this recipe (because I didn't like it), but I do mention the brand in this post. Enjoy!
When I started brainstorming ideas for the World Foods Fusion Taste team project, I knew that sooner or later I would have to tackle Pad Thai. I tend to make some version or another of pad thai pretty regularly. It's one of those dishes that becomes second nature after making it a few times, it's also pretty forgiving when it comes to substitutions on veggies and proteins.
Pad thai tastes great with the classic addition of bean sprouts and chives, but it works with a whole wide world of other veggies too. Bell peppers and jicama give this particular recipe a southwestern flair, but you should definitely try using snap peas, green beans, kohlrabi, or roasted eggplant sometime. As far as protein goes, these noodles love being topped with lean proteins like tofu, chicken, shrimp, or fish.
Texas Pad Thai
Serves about six
- 1 8 ounce package rice sticks / dry rice noodles
- 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (Thai soy sauce is best. Look for the bottle with a dragonfly on the front.)
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce, or an additonal tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1/2 cup water, stock, or broth
- 1 teaspoon crushed red chile pepper
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 poblano pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 small jicama, peeled and cut into strips
- 1 bunch scallion, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and cut into thin strips
- 1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans, smashed/chopped
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- Soak the rice stick noodles in cold water for at least one hour before you start to cook.
- Heat the water in the microwave, or on the stovetop until it is piping hot. Add the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Mix the sugar water with the tamarind, soy sauce, fish sauce, and chile pepper, then set it aside.
- Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. When the pan is nice and hot, add the oil.
- Saute the bell peppers for a few minutes, just long enough to heat them through, and give them a touch of color. Transfer them to a dish and set aside.
- Return the pan to the heat, adding a little more oil, if needed. Saute the jicama for a few minutes, then add the scallion and bean sprout. Saute for just a minute or two, then add the noodles.
- Using a pair of tongs, toss the noodles in the hot pan every 30 seconds or so. After a few minutes they should start to soften and change color. At this point you should add the pad thai sauce that you made earlier.
- Continue tossing the noodles in the sauce until they become tender. If you feel like the noodles need more sauce, whip up a second batch.
- Add the peppers back to the pan and toss them with the noodles. Squirt the juice from one of the limes over the noodles just before taking them off the stovetop.
- Taste the pad thai, and season it with a little salt, extra chile pepper, or lime as needed.
- Serve the pad thai right away, garnished with the cilantro, jalapeno, corn, and pecans. Place a wedge of lime on each plate.
This recipe was inspired by my participationg in the WorldFoods Texas Fusion Taste Team. The idea is that we are supposed to taste test the sauces, and then review them on our blogs. I decided to feature each sauce with a recipe since that's kinda "my thing". Recipes, that is. Unfortunately, when it came to this particular sauce, there was just no way I was using it in my pad thai. I hate being a negative Nancy, but for me, the sauce just didn't taste like pad thai. It was super sweet, without that familiar sour tamarind note. I almost want to say that it tasted like barbecue sauce. Weird, right?
Coincidentally, we ended up at a Thai restaurant a few nights later. My friends bolth ordered pad thai, and were surprised when bowls of bright red noodles arrived at the table. None of us had ever encountered a pad thai like this before. It was super sweet, kind of tangy, and reminiscent of (you guessed it) barbecue sauce! My friends both enjoyed their noodles quite a bit, but admitted that for them, it wasn't what they would call pad thai.
So, mystery solved, I suppose. I'm guessing the reason I was totally bamboozled by the World Foods sauce is that it was modeled after this "red" version of pad thai. Like I said, my friends seemed to like it a lot, but for me it was more like candy than noodles. I think I'll stick to making my own pad thai sauce for the time being.
It's actually not hard at all, especially if you are a cheater, like me, and use a tamarind concentrate as a shortcut. You can go authentic and hand muddle tamarind water if you want to, but on a busy weeknight tamarind concentrate does just fine.