tuesday food day: pad thai

Why does pregnancy get all the notoriety for inducing cravings? Did everyone forget about breast feeding? I find myself experiencing more cravings as a nursing mama than as a pregnant one. Not to mention that I’m hungrier. In fact, breast feeding is known to burn at least 500 calories per day. And pregnancy? You only need an extra 300 calories per day.

Considering how big Giovanna is getting, I’m not surprised by my voracious appetite. At her four month appointment, she was in the 95th percentile for height and 75th percentile for weight. How’s that for a little runt who was born at 6 pounds 7 ounces and was only 7 pounds 7 ounces at one month? I’m not surprised because this girl wants to nurse all. The. Time. My dad says, “she’s like me — either eating or planning her next meal.” I will admit that although it’s a lot of work to make sure my body is always properly fueled with healthy calories, it’s also a lot of fun. I’m still eating for two (kind of), but this time I’m skinny. Hell yes!

Why is this all relevant? Because I’ve been entertaining a craving for about a month. A craving that won’t go away. A craving for pad thai. Authentic pad thai from the street vendors in Bangkok. A few weeks ago we ate takeout Thai food at my request. I ordered pad thai and it was the worst I’d ever had. Quite disappointing when you are practically giddy over fulfilling a relentless craving.

Since I’m not going to make it back to Thailand any time soon, and because I’d rather eat pad thai that is healthier than the American restaurant version anyways (or the authentic Thai one, for that matter), I decided to craft my own pad thai. After perusing several website for ideas and inspiration, I decided to base my pad thai after two relatively healthy recipes I found on Closet Cooking and Eating Well. With my own modifications to make it even healthier (hint: more veggies). The result? I like it even better than the real stuff from Bangkok.

I am not so great at measuring since I like to cook according to taste. But let’s start with what we need:

rice noodles (I usually make 4 servings)
garlic
onion
sliced crimini mushrooms
fish sauce
soy sauce
chili sauce
tamarind concentrate (or rice vinegar can also be used to add the sour element)
sugar (or be authentic and use palm sugar)
egg
firm tofu
shrimp
ground peanuts
sliced green onion
bean sprouts
cilantro
lime wedges

Chop up tofu and marinate in soy sauce for about 20 minutes before using.

Cook the rice noodles according to the package.

Steam the broccoli for about five minutes, or until bright green. Don’t over-steam or else you start to lose nutrients. And we most definitely do not want that to happen.

Heat the peanut oil in a wok. Add minced garlic and chopped onion. Saute until fragrant. Add mushrooms. Add egg and cook, stirring until scrambled. Add shrimp. I usually only throw in a few for good measure, since my husband loves those little guys. Add tofu along with soy sauce (the sauce in which tofu was marinating — no use wasting soy sauce). You don’t have to add tofu AND shrimp, but I do to ensure that we’re getting plenty of protein and to keep everyone happy. Stir fry for a few minutes, until tofu and shrimp are cooked to your satisfaction.

Now add the rice noodles, which have been cooked and drained, and the steamed broccoli. Also add fish sauce, chili sauce, tamarind concentrate and sugar. If needed, add more soy sauce. I like to add about the same amount of each (two to three tablespoons, less for the chili sauce) and then taste the noodles to see if they need more of any one flavor. Sweet (sugar), salty (soy sauce), sour (tamarind concentrate), spicy (chili sauce), or fishy (fish sauce, duh).

Garnish with peanuts, bean sprouts, a wedge of lime, and cilantro. Again, I’m sorry that I didn’t include many measurements, but I really believe this is all a matter of taste. Some people like very pungent pad thai, so you’d add a bunch of fish sauce. Some like it sweeter, so you’d add more sugar. Some like it spicy, so you’d add more chili sauce. Some want to add 1 cup of broccoli, others add 4 cups. Someone might hate bean sprouts, someone else might be allergic to peanuts.

Anyways, you get the picture. There are a million different ways to make it, and this is just a guide. Tailor this yummy, noodley dish to your satisfaction. You can make it oily or light. Spicy or sweet or fishy. Or all three. Just have fun with it.

image courtesy of closetcooking.blogspot.com
image courtesy of eatingwell.com
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