Monday, September 1, 2014

Sort of Thai Noodles

This won't be the first time I've mentioned my love of Ruth Reichl's book Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise. Have you read it yet? If your answer is no, then close your laptop, put away your phone, QUIT READING THIS BLOG AND CHECK IT OUT AT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY. Or download it on your kindle or whatever newfangled reading mechanism you are using these days.

Believe or not, Ruth, the former editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine, is not paying me for this blatant endorsement of her memoir. I just love it that much. Or at least I did when I first got my hands on it 7 years ago. Truth be told, I haven't touched it since (and maybe I should go and re-read it before I talk it up so much??) All I know is that it unearthed a previously-undiscovered secret aspiration to be a food critic. This was a slight diversion from my former desire to be in the FBI. Because, as we all know, being in the FBI looks just like it did for Sandra Bullock (my hero!) in Miss Congeniality., until I am able to land my more mature dream job as a food critic, I'll just live vicariously through Ruth in the pages of her book. If you love cooking and "foodie novels" as the term goes, the book is worth checking out. It's pages are laced with recipes, a few of which have made an appearance on my table more times then I can count.

This recipe is one of them. It is Ruth's Americanized take on Pad Thai and it is always a hit when I serve it to guests. It's versatile in that you can use whatever sort of ground meat you have on hand. I have had good success with pork, beef and turkey though pork is definitely my favorite.

I adapted the recipe proportions to utilize a full pound of rice noodles and a full pound of ground pork because it drove me nuts having half a package of each left as would happen with the original recipe. The larger scale of my recipe makes it a great go-to when company is coming. The trickiest part is finding a skillet or sauté pan big enough. Making room to cook the eggs as directed is also a little challenging but basically you just need to get them softly scrambled and then they will cook the rest of the way when tossed with the hot noodles. The visual presentation at that point will leave something to be desired but then you sprinkle it with chopped peanuts and slices of lime and voilà - it looks amazing!
Sort of Thai Noodles
(adapted a smidge from Ruth Reichl)
1 pound thin rice stick noodles
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground pork
8 scallions, white and tender green parts, sliced into 1/2-inch lengths
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
4 limes (juice only)
1/2 cup salted peanuts, ground or finely chopped
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges, for garnish
Chili sauce, such as Sriracha, for garnish

Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Place the dried noodles in a large bowl and pour the hot water over to cover for about 20 minutes or until soft, then drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce and vinegar. Set aside.

In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is very hot. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, just until they change color, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Add the garlic to the wok, and as soon as it starts to color and get fragrant, about 30 seconds, add the pork and half of the scallions. Cook just until the pork loses its redness, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the drained noodles and mix quickly. Add the fish sauce mixture, reduce the heat to medium and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until the noodles have absorbed all the liquid.

Clear an area of the wok and crack 2 eggs into it, breaking the yolks. Tilt the wok to get as thin a sheet of egg as possible and scramble just until set, about 1 minute. Then mix the egg into the noodles. Repeat with the remaining egg. Add the shrimp, remaining scallions and red pepper flakes and mix thoroughly. Add the lime juice and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Transfer the noodles to a platter and top with a sprinkling of peanuts. Serve with lime wedges, the remaining peanuts and chili sauce on the side.
Serves 8

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posted by kelsie