In general, we are a family of very differing, yet specific tastes. At one extreme is my daughter who loves nothing more than a kale and quinoa salad. On the other extreme is my son, whose perfect meal is Buffalo Wild Wings and a soda. My husband and I fall somewhat in the middle with me leaning more towards the kale and my husband leaning more towards the wings. Having said that, for us to find a food that we all equally enjoy is not easy. Mexican is one, Asian in general is one. but Thai is THE one.
To that end, we seek out Thai restaurants wherever we go. If you are in the Nashville/Brentwood area of TN, you must go to Jasmine Thai. It's been several years since I've been there, but it remains the Thai restaurant that I compare all others to. Beaufort, SC is home to Yes, Thai Indeed. A little hole in the wall that serves outstanding Thai food. Don't judge the book by it's cover is a good rule when pulling into the parking lot. Whenever we get to Orlando, FL, we make sure to plan on dinner at Thai Thani. In fact, after our 10-hour drive, we make that our first stop, before even checking into our hotel. Red Koi in Coral Gables, Fl serves outstanding Thai food, in addition to sushi. If you are in Winston-Salem, NC, stop in at Thai Sawatdee – this restaurant also claims the most gregarious Thai server – and Raleigh has Sawasdee Thai, another fun stop. In Myrtle Beach, we enjoy Thai Season in North Myrtle and in Wilmington, NC, my family likes Big Thai. If you visit, tell them we said hello! If you find yourself in Vienna, Austria, Patara Fine Thai Cuisine
is just a block or two from the Stephensplatz. Right outside of Old Town in Prague is Lemon Leaf Thai; full disclosure, not all of us loved our meal here. It wasn't bad, but we have high standards! ?
We seem to order the same things no matter where we go, but we always order MANY appetizers and someone always orders a Pad Thai. We wouldn't quite claim to be ‘Thai Food Experts', but we know what we like. It seems like Thai food figures into our at home meal plan several times a month in various forms as well, so I have accumulated many Thai recipes.
If you like your Pad Thai real sweet, this is not the recipe for you. If you like your Pad Thai heavy with sauce, this is not the recipe for you. However, if you like your Pad Thai sublimely complex, with just the right amount of unique and clear flavors vying for attention on your tongue, you need to give this recipe a whirl. For my family, this is really The Best Pad Thai. It is one of the few recipes I use that I follow verbatim. It's a ‘why mess with success' strategy that I employ for a select few recipes; this one, my carrot cake recipe and Martha Stewart's Classic Apple Pie, to name a few. This recipe was published in the July & August 2002 edition of Cook's Illustrated.
Don't let the list of ingredients intimidate you. They can all be found at your local Oriental market, on Amazon.com (Tamarind Paste, Preserved Radish and Dried Shrimp) or on ImportFood.com (Tamarind Paste, Preserved Radish and Dried Shrimp). The recipe indicates that several items are optional, but I don't think the dish would have the complex flavor without them. I keep the tamarind paste, the salted radish and the dried shrimp in a little basket in the back of my freezer. They keep well for a long time…trust me.
As an accompaniment to the Pad Thai, slice some cucumbers and onions thinly. Mix some rice wine vinegar, a little sugar and some water and toss with your cucumbers and onions an hour before serving. Keep them in the fridge until you are ready to eat.
The cooking time is quick, but the prep work is time consuming. Get all your ingredients measured out on your cooking space before you start and it'll come together quickly.
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