Recently I treated myself to a long walk down to the thrift store in our neighbourhood where I discovered a treasure for only $5!
I picked up a fabulous West Bend wok completely with lid and steaming tray inside. The only problem? I wasn’t sure it was stainless steel. For health reason, I never cook with aluminum. I did some investigating. It was very shiny and totally scratch resistant which aluminum isn’t. Magnets did not stick to it but they did not stick to my pots either and I know they are stainless steel.
I wanted to be 100% sure so I wrote the company and sent them this photograph. They did some research for me and assured me, it is stainless steel! Thank you West Bend! Now, what to make with it?
I wanted to test The $5 Takeout Cookbook (written by Rhonda Lauret Parkinson and published by Adams Media) recipe for Pad Thai. Now long-time readers of my blog will know just how picky I am about Pad Thai so I thought this would be a great test. I divided the recipe in half but will share it as it appears in the cookbook.
Soak 8 oz of rice noodles in water at room temperature for 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and set aside. The recipe did not say what size the noodles should be so I just used what I had.
The recipe called for 6-8 tsp of tamarind concentrate which is not at my local store. My mom bought me some while I was in Toronto and I have been saving it for the right Pad Thai recipe. Hope I wasn’t wasting any!
I got out a nice chunk of tamarind which I know, looks very weird, and added about the same amount of hot water and let it steep for 15 minutes. Then I put it through a strainer and really pushed down to get all that juice out.
I made the garnish first, more of Mairlyn Smith’s garlic shrimp because it is so good. The recipe in the cookbook does not have any major protein in it at all except for some peanuts. Usually you get at least some tofu, shrimp, sometimes chicken…
Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
Add 2 tbsp of chopped shallots and 5-6 garlic cloves finely chopped. Stir fry briefly until they begin to turn colour.
Add the drained noodles, 1/4 cup fish sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 6-8 tsp of tamarind concentrate, 1/4 cup chopped chives (I used green onions) and 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts. Stir fry until hot.
While constantly stirring, drizzle in a beaten egg. I started to get worried that my pan was not hot enough because it just seemed to coat the noodles and not cook…??? Add 1 cup of bean sprouts and cook for 30 seconds.
Add the “garnish” which is 1 tbsp of lime juice, 1 tbsp of tamarind concentrate, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1/2 cup bean sprouts, 1/2 cup chopped chives and 1/2 cup coarsely ground roasted peanuts.
To save on money I picked out some peanuts in my trail mix and toasted them up on the stove. Yes, things have been that tight. The recipe says that the total cost is $2.89 but I think that is assuming you already own many of these ingredients. Not everyone has tamarind, fish sauce, bean sprouts…
So how was it? Pretty darn tasty. Not 100% authentic but much closer than other recipes I have tried. After setting up this shot and taking a bite, I tossed the noodles in some Sriracha hot sauce because you absolutely need some heat when you have these Thai noodles.
There is still a seafood flavour that is missing and I know the type of noodles I used were not perfect but I did enjoy the flavour. The sweetness with the lime juice is so wonderful, I probably will make these again but I still continue my search on what makes the perfect Pad Thai. I give this recipe four out of five wooden spoons.