I spend my Sunday mornings teaching swimming to very young people. The pool is usually quiet and the sky bright blue. There are few places I’d rather be before noon on a weekend…but all that treading water and child-hoisting and the hard-fought races against 5-year-old freestylers can really work up an appetite.
When I got home from the pool today the wind had just started to change, from the usual trades (which float down the ridge and through the house) to the back-and-forth blusters of a storm. A big-bellied black raincloud sailed past my kitchen window, almost brushing the rooftops below me. I wanted…pad thai.
With only soba noodles, a healthy appetite, and a passing acquaintance with Thai cookery, I forged ahead with guidance from this enormous new cookbook from David Thompson and the culinary sense of single purpose that enlightens the hungry.
Speaking of blinding hunger, maybe this was delicious–or maybe I would have devoured a blue kickboard if it had a leaf of cilantro on it. If you try the recipe below please let me know what you think.
Note: If Thompson is any indication, Thai recipes call for a lot (a LOT) of ingredients. Once the pan is hot, the dish actually comes together very quickly so I recommend the mise en place approach described below.
0. Bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil. Open a beer (e.g. Singha) or bottle of white wine; you can enjoy this while cooking but may also wish to have it on hand to deglaze the pan. While waiting for the water to boil, prep the following ingredients, cleaning up as you go.
1. Prep #1: Combine in a small bowl:
- 2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
- 1 Tbsp shaved palm sugar or brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Sriracha
2. Prep #2: Chop 5 shallots and 3 cloves of garlic. Bruise with sea salt, in a mortar and pestle.
3. Prep #3: Crack two eggs into a small bowl and whip lightly with a fork.
4. Prep #4: Boil 360g soba noodles (3 bundles) for 90 seconds, then cool quickly under running water in a colander and drain.
5. Prep #5: Combine in a large bowl:
- 2 loosely-packed cups of baby spinach
- A handful of chopped peanuts
6. Clear your counters, except for the products of steps 1-5. Heat 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet, and sautee the shallot mixture until lightly browned over medium-high heat. Deglaze with a splash of alcohol as necessary.
7. Add the egg; let it cook a few seconds. Scramble it lightly.
8. Add the soba; work them into the egg and shallots until well combined.
9. Add the tamarind mixture and stir well; cook until liquid is absorbed. Deglaze as necessary.
10. Add the spinach and peanuts; keep stirring until the spinach is wilted.
Serve with lime.