The Hyper Dramatic Pad Thai
While sitting around having whiskeys last Sunday, I played journalist and initiated a Q&A session. We each had to take turns to name a meat we cannot live without.
I jumped in before my turn perhaps fuelled by the alcohol to reveal.. duun duun duun..that it was a trick question. I announced that I Can live without meat, but I cannot live without noodles. We considered the statement for a while and switched our attention back to our glasses of whiskey. With that, ended the Q&A session everybody indulged me.
Reading this account now makes me feel like an utter fool, but let’s move on, there’s much to discuss about noodles!
(Picture above taken from Viet Thai Restaurant, TTDI. This Pad Thai was so good it inspired me to learn to cook it and hopefully make it a regular at home.)
Pad Thai noodles are made from dehydrated rice sticks, less than 100kcal for 1 serving, minus the ingredients. I think this is a good base to start because just like pasta, the noodles assume taste easily and these rice sticks do not require too much fat to deliver taste unlike rice vermicelli.
It I could compare the two, rice stick noodles are less high maintenance compared to pasta because I just need to soak them in tap water followed by warm water to ready them for assembly in the pan, unlike pasta that needs to be boiled in the correct water to pasta ratio to avoid clumping.
While peanuts are traditionally used, I experimented with cashew nuts. (Also because I didn’t have peanuts at the time of cooking haha.) Dry roasting the nuts is the best way to release the aroma, don’t skip this step.
I made this as a trial run before I cooked the real Pad Thai for my parents the following day. I learned a few important lessons:
Soak the noodles until they are 99% done. The trial run noodles were soaked until 90% done because I wanted to cook it further with the sauce. The rates of absorption and evaporation are so fast it will cause the noodles to be on the hard side if noodles are only 90% done.
Dried shrimps. You need them for taste, but be prepared to compromise the taste if you are more concerned about your waist line.
Rice stick noodles can absorb taste so well that we do not need to render fat into the carbs unnecessarily.
The skill in Pad Thai is actually in the balance of all the ingredients. They work in harmony and none screams for attention. A superior Pad Thai also brings out the greatest assets of the rice stick noodles i.e. the thin springiness and chewiness unrivalled by most noodles.
I was careful not to be heavy-handed with my chilies because my parents don’t appreciate pain like I do. So I de-seeded the chilies and only add them as toppings to scare them a little, hence the name The Hyper Dramatic Pad Thai.