Sunday, January 4, 2009

Freestyle Pad Thai

I hate recipes. They often end up hamstringing you creativity-wise. The trick is to use them as a guide, a suggestion. Rules were meant to be broken in the kitchen.

I also hate going shopping for a meal. Don't get me wrong. If I am about to make a multi-course meal for a group I love it, but the run of the mill meal does not make me want to run to the store. I have learned to substitute things on the fly...this does not always work out. One of the marks of a truly great chef is their ability to make something out of junk. I am no master, but I am trying to create something out of what I've got. The best news is that every bad experiment experience is vivid enough to make you REALLY want to improve. This is unique in cooking. Unless you have the time/lunacy to just toss food you will actually eat what you make...however horrendous it turns out to be. I'd go into the time I fried up Top Ramen with onions, fish sauce, Sriracha, and canned sardines, but that would make you vomit...just like my wife who was well along in her first pregnancy at the time. Needless to say I wont be mixing that deadly concoction again, but it remains a vivid lesson that I will never forget for better or for worse.

With that being said I give you a meal I did a few days ago. If it looks good to you make it. If you feel like being creative change it and let us know what you did.

Freestyle Pad Thai

1 handful of rice stick pho noodles soaked in warm water for 2 to 3 hours.
2 tablespoon Canola oil
1 tablespoon garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sauce (fish, oyster, hoisin, anything you have/enjoy)
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (or more)
3 cups chopped stir fry vegetables (baby bok choy, cabbage, snow peas, sweet peppers, onions, green beans, bamboo shoots, etc)

2 egg
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon garlic

CHICKEN (optional):
8 oz. breast or thigh, boneless and skinless, cut paper-thin.
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Black pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons lemon zest

- Be sure to soak the noodles (unless you are lucky enough to get them fresh) for at least three hours…they are hard as rocks if you don’t. Longer is fine.

- Mix egg and soy together. Heat oil and garlic in a small nonstick pan in the style of an omlette. When completely cooked remove from pan and set aside. When cool cut into ¼ inch strips.

- If using chicken: Marinate chicken in sake, soy and black pepper for at least 30 minutes. Add oil to small skillet or other heavy bottomed pan over high heat. Stir-fry chicken till almost done. About 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon. Set aside.

- Heat the oil in a wok or large heavy bottomed skillet over high heat.

- Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds, adding the noodles and sauces. Keep the noodles moving so they don’t stick. Continue till coated.

- Toss in vegetables and stir well to integrate into the noodles. Lower to medium heat. Cook till vegetables attain desired consistency.

- Add chicken along with any juices that are in the pan with it.

- Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

- Plate with egg strips and serve immediately.

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