From the Source


Sure, readers have offered suggestions before, enriching these pages in the process, but when one of you suggested a dish she savored while living in Thailand, schedules were rearranged to give it a try.  Come on, Southeast Asian cuisine, and a personal recommendation at that?  Absolutely!

Originally, this week was slated to bring a dessert, but the chance to try something that inspired fond memories was even more irresistible.  Oh, the dessert’s a good one, and it’ll appear soon enough, but today makes way for Pad See Ew, a noodle dish widely acclaimed in Thailand and increasingly, imitated in Thai restaurants elsewhere.

As mentioned, Pad See Ew so impressed a reader when living in Thailand she introduced a site, RecipeTin Eats, that features instructions.  The original begins with special rice wide noodles that are virtually unavailable outside Thai markets, and instead the site suggests pad thai noodles as a practical and suitable replacement.

The noodles are stir-fried with thinly-sliced chicken and greens (in Thailand, Chinese broccoli; elsewhere, bok choy) and then are bathed in a savory, slightly sweet sauce including, among other things, dark soy sauce.  That latter ingredient is one specialty item that’s available after a little digging, and so it appears this week.  The sauce imparts a light caramelization that nicely accentuates the chicken’s savory profile.

Overall, though, the star component is an egg, which is scrambled into the chicken and greens as they cook in the wok.  While not identifiable by itself, the egg coats the bird and the bok choy in an extra layer of richness that also captures and plays upon the sauce’s mildly sweet saltiness.

After exulting in this dish, it became obvious why Pad See Ew captivated one of you enough to enthusiastically tell the tale years later and half a world away.  Pad See Ew now is part of the personal repertoire and joins sticky rice in the culinary discoveries this reader introduced.  What’s next?

*****

Pad See Ew

  • 15 ounces fresh wide rice noodles, or 7 ounces dried rice noodles (*1)

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (*2)
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons regular soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (*3)
  • 2 tablespoons water

For the stir fry:

  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 5 ounces boneless skinless chicken thigh, sliced thinly (*4)
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ribs of Chinese broccoli (*5)

First, make the sauce.  Combine in a small bowl all the ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Set aside.

Next, work with the greens.  Cut the leaves from the stems and cut them into 3-inch squares.  Slice the stems lengthwise so each is no more than 1/3 of inch thick.  Set aside both.

Place a wok over a high flame and when hot, add a tablespoon of the oil.  When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and stir for 15 seconds.  Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until it just looses its pinkness, about two minutes.

Stir in the sliced stems, and continue stirring frequently until the stems begin to soften, about another two minutes.  Add the leaves and stir until just wilted, about three minutes.

Push aside the wok contents and pour in an egg. (*6)  Stir this into the other ingredients until well-combined.  Turn off the flame and remove wok contents temporarily to a separate plate.  Wipe out the wok with a damp cloth.

Next, prepare the noodles in boiling water until just softened.  It’s important the noodles be cooked just prior to use, else they’ll break up in the wok.  When the noodles are just past the al dente stage, drain them in a colander and rinse them in cold water.  Set them aside for just a moment.

Place the now-empty wok over a high flame and add the remaining two tablespoons of oil.  When oil shimmers, add the noodles and the sauce you prepared earlier.  Toss a few times, just to coat, then let sit undisturbed for a minute to caramelize.

Add the chicken and vegetables (the earlier wok contents) and toss to combine.  Serve immediately.

NOTES:

1 – Sen Yai noodles are a fresh variety favored in Thailand for this preparation.  For the 99% of the world not fortunate enough to have access to a Thai market, dried pad thai noodles work nearly as well.

2 – Dark soy is special, richer and slightly more syrupy variation of “regular” soy sauce.  Unlike Sen Yai noodles, it is available to outsiders with a little persistence.  Of course, you also could substitute regular soy sauce, though the noodles would lack their standard deep color and caramelization.

3 – Use palm sugar if you have it, if not, light brown sugar works well too.

4 – This works out to one large thigh.

5 – Chinese broccoli is another item that’s quite a challenge to locate, at least outside East Asia.  If you can’t find it, bok ckoy works as well.

6 – I scrambled the egg in a juice glass before adding it to the wok.  Less streaky that way.

 

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