Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spicy Thai Dinner with Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong...

Thai red bird's eye chillies 🌶🌶🌶 on the go in a full-on spicy Thai dinner! Pad Thai with chicken and shrimp takes centre stage with encores of Tom Yum Goong (lemongrass shrimp soup) and Hot Fire Morning Glory cooked in bean sauce, garlic and chillies 🔥! These recipes were adapted from Wandee Young's Simply Thai Cooking. An immigrant to Toronto, this remarkable lady was paramount in being the first to seduce Canada with Thai cuisine in 1980 with her famous but long-closed restaurant Young Thailand. And the rest was history with the legions of delicious and regional Thai eateries especially in Toronto that followed over the decades. So happy I had her cookbook on my shelf for years. Adjust the recipe flavours and piquant levels to suit your family's taste buds. kŏr hâi jà-rern aa-hăan (bon appetit!)

Tom Yum Goong is delightfully lively and comforting at the same time. The aromatics and the barely poached shrimps gives this tangy brew an ethereal treat for the senses.

Tom Yum Goong (lemongrass shrimp soup) (adapted from Wandee Yong's Simply Thai Cooking)
Makes 4 to 6 servings

4 cups water
1 stick lemongrass or 2 Tbsp. minced lemongrass (frozen and thawed)
4 kaffir lime leaves (or 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice)
1 inch galangal root (or ginger root)
2 fresh hot chillies, chopped
1-1/2 tsp. chili paste
3 Tbsp. tamarind paste 
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. sugar
a handful of button mushrooms, quartered
16 large shrimps, shelled and deveined (use the shells for making broth- see tip below)
3 Tbsp. lime juice
green onions and cilantro, chopped 

Roast/toast the shrimp shells first before boiling them to make the broth-- toss with sea salt and black pepper before flipping them in a hot wok with oil to seal the seasonings! Flavour on flavour like my late dear mentor chef Fred always said (RIP). 

The combination of kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal is intoxicating!

Combine tamarind paste with 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl and let soak for at least 15 minutes. See more in tamarind preparation in Pad Thai recipe below.

Stir well, and strain out solids and seeds. See more in Pad Thai recipe below.

Heat water in a soup pot to boiling. Smash the lemongrass with the flat of a chef's knife once, and then cut into 1-inch pieces; tear the lime leaves into thirds; and slice the galangal into thin rounds. Crush the fresh chillies and chop. Add lemongrass, galangal and lime leaves into boiling water and cook for one minute. Add strained tamarind paste (without the seeds), fish sauce, sugar and chili paste. Boil for another two minutes. Add mushrooms and boil for two minutes. Add shrimps and lime juice (including the other 2 Tbsp. if you didn't use lime leaves) and lower heat to medium-high. Cook for two minutes, just until the shrimps have turned opaque and springy. 

I used chopped frozen lemongrass placed into a spice ball.

 Serve hot with green onions and cilantro at the table, and a splash of lime juice if desired. 

Restaurant favourite like Pad Thai can only be made with the authentic flavour of tamarind. Pad Thai showcases it's harmony of flavours with sour, spice, salty and sweet! And it is a splendid lesson in how simple and bland rice stick can evolve in its vast symphony of flavours and ingredients. Though daunting at first, it really is relatively easy to concoct. 

Pad Thai (adapted from Wandee Yong's Simply Thai Cooking)
Makes 6 servings

454 g pkg. of Thai rice stick noodles (look for 1/4-inch width)
1/2 cup tamarind paste
1/2 cup water
1/2 lb. (225 g) boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
125 g fried tofu balls, sliced
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 large shrimps, shelled and deveined
3 eggs
2 cups bean sprouts
2 stems green onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
garnish with finely chopped fresh cilantro, sliced green onions, finely chopped Thai chillies and chopped roasted peanuts

Soak noodles in plenty of water for at least one hour. 

Combine tamarind paste with 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl and let soak for at least 15 minutes. Mash it and push through a strainer set over a bowl. Scrape off the juice that clings to the underside. You will need about 1/2 cup of tamarind juice. Add to fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Beat to thoroughly mix and reserve. Discard the solids and seeds in strainer. 

I used a mortar and pestle to crush shelled roasted garlic peanuts.
Use a strainer to press out tamarind paste soften in water for maximum juice, 

and to separate from solids and seeds.

Heat oil in wok or skillet until it is about to smoke. Add garlic and stir, letting it cook for about 30 seconds. Add chicken, and stir-fry for one minute. Add tofu and shrimps and stir-fry for one minute more. Break eggs into wok and let them fry without breaking them for about one to two minutes. 

While eggs cook, quickly drain the noodles and then add to wok, giving them a quick fold, stir-frying from the bottom up. Add reserved tamarind and fish sauce mixture and continue stir-frying everything together for two minutes. Your noodles will have subsided to half the volume and soften to al dente. Add bean sprouts and green onion pieces. Stir-fry for 30 seconds and take off heat.

Transfer noodles to a serving dish and sprinkle with roasted peanuts, green onions and cilantro. Splash with lime juice for a little more tang and serve hot with chillies if desired. 

Served as a simple accompaniment to round out the meal- hot-fire morning glory (or ong choy), is a popular stir-fried green vegetable side, super fragrant and delicious wok-tossed with ground bean sauce, garlic and of course spicy chopped chillies🔥. 

Hot Fire Morning Glory

My kids lapping everything up in rapid speed! They're my hungry hippos :D

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