I love Thai food, but I don’t ever cook it. The primary reason is that I happen to live in a neighborhood chock-full of amazing Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese food. Those restaurants are all lightningfast. Plus, most of the sauces used in those dishes are pre-made and, for some reason, I find that unacceptable to do at home.
I refuse to buy something if I can make it myself. Mayo, BBQ sauce, pasta, I just can’t bring myself to make a trip to the store for them, even though it only takes about 20 minutes to drive and grab dried pasta, and it’s about an hour and a half to make it fresh, let it rest, and roll it out.
But some Asian dishes are worth the time, effort and bragging rights.
Pho is not worth the time.
After nine hours, your kitchen looks like a serial killer’s tool shed and smells like the elephant graveyard in The Lion King.
But Pad Si Ew is easy and fast. Plus, you can tell people you made it all from scratch, which isn’t entirely true, but who cares. I mean, if you’re willing to lie to them, they aren’t that important anyway.
THE RICE NOODLES:
Trust me, make these fresh.
1 cup rice flour
½ cup corn starch (or wheat starch)
½ cup tapioca starch
¼ tsp salt
Mix all ingredients and whisk in a bowl. Run cold water slowly on the tap, and add water while whisking the batter until you achieve the consistency of crepe batter — it comes to about four cups, depending on the humidity in the room.
Steaming the batter might take some creativity. I use a large saucepan with a lid, fill it with about two inches of water, and pour the batter in an oiled circular cake pan. If you have a steamer pot, all you’ll need is a pie sheet for the batter. Remember to oil the bottom and sides of the pan you’re putting the batter into. The amount of batter you put in will decide the noodles’ final thickness. So play around with a few batches. Steam until the pancake starts to bubble off of the pan, about five minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, carefully remove the rice pancake from the pan and lay out on a cutting board to dry.
Once dry to the touch, roll it up and cut it into sections to your desired width.
Note: If the rice pancake is slimy, you aren’t cooking it long enough. Let it steam for a bit more.
Beef, shrimp, tofu, chicken, whatever you want for the dish, marinate in the following for 30 minutes to an hour:
2 tbsp. oyster sauce (I use vegetarian oyster sauce)
2 tbsp. light soy sauce
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 clove of garlic, minced
PUTTING IT TOGETHER:
I use the handful measuring method. For every portion, it’s one egg and a handful each of protein, the vegetables and noodles.
Marinated protein (meat, tofu, etc.) Baby bok choy Rice noodles Eggs Oil (olive, canola, doesn’t matter, really) Sweet soy sauce (you might have to go an Asian grocery for this) Any additional veggies.
Heat an oiled saucepan on medium high. Crack one egg for each portion in a bowl and scramble with a fork. Add a drop of sweet soy sauce.
When the oil starts to smoke, add egg and pull edges into center, like an omelet. Once it looks mostly cooked, only a little bit of runny egg, remove from heat and set aside on a plate.
Add a bit more oil to pan and add the protein and bok choy and any additional veggies.
Add a splash of the remaining marinade and about a tablespoon of sweet soy sauce. Toss in pan for about two minutes. Add noodles and another splash of sweet soy sauce. Toss.
Chop the egg into thick chunks and add to pan. Cook for about a minute.
Enjoy. For more from Theo Romeo, see www.cookingwithcynicism.com