Almost all of the work that goes into making Pad Thai is done in advance, which is why it’s a great dish to make when havi...
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Hello everybody. I used a stainless steel frying pan and it did the job quite good. None of the ingredients stuck to it. Then I could enjoy a better dish than the ones I tryied in restaurants. An al dente texture for the noodle made a great difference. Thanks a lot!
Is there a substitute for the radish?
Since this sauce contains components that all last for a very long time on their own, the sauce will keep for several weeks in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator. As with all things, make sure you taste it/smell it before using to make sure. Cheers!
I just completed a four week Thai cooking series in Oakland, CA taught by a Thai lady fiercly committed to "authentic" thai cooking. I wanted to give Rouxbe kudos for having much more authentic ingredients and techniques in your Thai based recipes than you see in most websites or cookbooks in North America. From the tamarind paste, dried shrimps and preserved cabbage, to soaking the noodles in cold water, you perfectly matched the "authentic" approach we just learned. Thanks for putting up such a quality product!
I've made this dish ~10 times now, and I'm still working on perfecting it. I thought I would post my various problems and solutions, and invite feedback from the other Pad Thai enthusiasts. I cook this dish with gas, a 14 inch stainless steel fry pan, and a plastic spatula.
Problem 1: Clumpy noodles
It seems like there's multiple opportunities in the cooking for this problem. Tonight I rinsed the noodles after soaking them to remove starch in case this is a cause. I also used a salad spinner to thoroughly dry them. They looked very sticky and a little brittle within a few seconds of hitting the pan, but were perfect as soon as I added the stock.
I've also managed to clump them up when I'm cooking the shrimp or even the egg. My guess is that the shrimp cook too slowly, and the noodles will to stick together while they're cooling on the side of the pan. Is it really the lower temperature that causes the sticking in the phase, or is it that I'm not actively moving them around?
I've tried solving this by increasing heat to cook the shrimp faster. I don't think my pan responds quickly enough for this to make a difference. If the shrimp/prawns are on the large side I've split them in half to accelerate the cooking. Regardless they always take more than a minute to cook, and the noodles suffer. Tonight I cheated with precooked shrimp, but I would really prefer to master this with raw shrimp. I am certain that my pan and oil are at the proper temperature when I start the dish. Maybe it can only be properly done in a wok.
Problem 2: Burning garlic
Even though I give it just a few seconds before adding the noodles it burns almost every time. I think part of this is that I have some difficulty fully incorporating the ingredients while cooking. I'm moving the tofu, noodles, and garlic around with the spatula but the garlic tends to stay on the bottom of the pan, hence the burning. If I turn the temperature down, the pan will not be hot enough to cook the egg in a timely manner. My solution has been to add it after the noodles. This always works, but I would like to know why I can't repeat the recipe exactly with good results.
Problem 3: Trouble folding the ingredients evenly
I'm not sure why this is happening, and I don't have this problem with any other dish I can think of. Even though I fold and move with the spatula, the noodles, tofu and shrimp all like to hang out by themselves in these little cliques. By the time I turn off the gas to add the sauce and finishings things are fairly well distributed, but this problem is probably part of the reason the garlic tends to burn. I was thinking of breaking the noodles in half next time to see if that would help.
On the plus side, the sauce is absolutely delicious and easy to make. I also love cubing the tofu into pretty small pieces to maximize the surface to volume, and give all surfaces a really nice crispy crust. I'm probably overcooking it a little but I do like it this way. I've looked at many other recipes and have never seen one that uses chicken stock. I think this is an awesome way to get a little more flavor into the noodles, and also offer a little control over their final texture (assuming I don't clump them up).
In spite of my problems, I love the flavor of this Pad Thai more than the closest take-out options. I'm still not consistently good enough to feel confident serving this to friends though. Any critical feedback is welcome. I'll keep practicing.
Great work Laura- Your notes and comments are meticulous!
Clumping noodles: It sounds like you have done everything right so far. I typically cook the noodles until about 75% cooked before the egg and shrimp are added, since I know that this process takes 2-3 minutes and the noodles are still cooking and absorbing water or stock during that time. If they clump, I add a touch of liquid and it helps separate the mixture.
Likewise, I'll stir in the egg when it's a bit runny still and I'll stir in the shrimp when it's still a bit raw. Both will continue cooking until service time - which can be a few minutes at least from this point.
My point here is that you can bring the mixture together before each component is 100% cooked, as the carry-over heat will cook it all before it actually reaches the serving plate.
For the burnt garlic, try to add it in after the noodles, once they are coated in oil. Then add the stock to reduce the pan surface temperature.
I hope this helps! Cheers.
First off, let me say how great it is that you keep practicing as this is really where we learn to perfect a dish or technique.
The one thing that I might add to the conversation is the fact that you are using a large 14" stainless steel fry pan. Part of the problem here is that every ingredient is constantly in contact with the fry pan. I would highly recommend trying a wok to cook your Pad Thai. A wok will allow the food to be tossed more easily and it will also allow it some time away from the constant direct heat.
For more information on Stir-Frying, you may wan to check out the 2 lessons on the Cooking School Lessons Page. Hope that helps. Cheers!