There are a couple of issues with making my favorite recipe for Pad Thai at home, however. Namely, it calls for shrimp and that means I'd have to make a special trip to the store and spend more than I'm willing for sustainable seafood on a weeknight. Same with the tamarind puree. And just where does one find "sweet" radishes? But since I am still reaping the benefits of my shopping trip to H-Mart, I do have plenty of rice noodles and at the time, I had lots of shiitakes.
A couple of impulse buys and substitutions later, and Bacon Pad Thai is on. At home. So I traded brown sugar for palm sugar, ketchup for tamarind puree, cucumber for sweet radish, and a lovely combo of bacon and shiitakes for shrimp. I think that's enough to call a recipe my own, don't you?
Also, this is a good recipe for mise en place, as there is some knife work and a few different parts that come together quickly. Consciously shifting the time spent on cooking to prep work allowed me to focus on neatly chopped and julienned vegetables. Aren't they pretty?
And then it really is a snap to put together. I did have a head start because I had purchased bacon as a reward for completing the food sensitivity thing and had pre-cooked half the package for another meal. Okay, just BLTs my way, which will hopefully be another post soon.
Also, mise en place cooking results in many photos, in my case. I hope you are inspired to try out the recipe and make your own substitutions to make it work for you. For example, you could sub extra tofu and mushrooms for bacon and watered-down soy sauce for the fish sauce if you're a vegetarian. Or if you do keep shrimp stocked at home, you can go back to the standard. So, settle in for some knife skills practice and enjoy your restaurant meal at home.
BACON PAD THAI
- 8 oz. rice noodles (medium width)
- 2 T. brown sugar
- 1 T. ketchup
- 2 T. fish sauce
- 1 T. lime juice
- 2 T. white vinegar
- 1 t. paprika
- 1/2 t. cayenne, or to taste
- 1 t. salt
- 3 T. vegetable oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T. onion, minced
- 2 T. cucumber, seeded and minced
- 2 T. carrot, julienned (optional)
- 1/4 cup tofu, julienned
- 3-4 strips cooked bacon, chopped finely
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup mung bean sprouts (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, plus more to garnish
- lime wedges, to garnish
- chopped cilantro, to garnish (optional)
Soak noodles in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes, as you begin to prep the rest of the ingredients. Then drain and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, ketchup, fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, paprika, cayenne, and salt. Set aside. This might be a good time to beat the eggs in another small bowl and set aside, as well.
Heat oil in a large (non-stick) skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, cucumber, carrot, tofu, and bacon. Toss gently in the oil and cook until vegetables soften. It will smell really, really good. Push vegetables to the side of the pan and allow the oil to re-coat the pan. Pour in beaten eggs. As the eggs set, push in edges with a spatula and continue until eggs are cooked through and separated into pieces.
Mix everything back together and add the softened noodles. Pour in the water and reduce the heat to medium. Allow the steam to cook the noodles for two or three minutes. Then add the sauce and sprouts and stir to coat. Continue to cook for about five minutes, allowing the noodles to absorb the sauce and the pan to become almost dry.
Place into serving bowls and top with peanuts, lime, and cilantro. Enjoy!