Friday, February 11, 2011

Phat Thai

Is she here yet? Is that her? With our hay?

YES, HURRAH -It's her, it's hay time! Everybody in the barn! Go, Go, Go!

The sheep are absolutely overjoyed every morning when I feed them. They are quite happy to eat the exact same alfalfa hay, every single day for six months. Our dog is also SO EXCITED to be fed the exact same food, day after day after day. Every evening, after we lock up the poultry, I feed her, and every time she responds the same way -OH BOY, I GET KIBBLES AGAIN!!!! The people living here, on the other hand, would balk at the same old thing put before them every single day, though they do respond rather cheerfully to homemade pizza once a week, and they'll happily eat pasta several times a week -if it's not the exact same recipe. This is the something-with-noodles-that's-different-recipe I'm making tonight. It isn't an Italian-style pasta recipe, but rather an Asian-style noodle recipe, and I swear, this is the very best Phat Thai recipe. It is actually very easy to make at home, and there have been long periods of time when I've made this almost every single week.

Our chickens have recently woken up from their winter funk and are laying in earnest once again, and I can use quite a few eggs when making this Phat Thai. When I first learned to make this, it required a special trip to an Asian market, but now most grocery stores (at least here in the Puget Sound area) carry the basic ingredients for cooking Southeast Asian foods. After the necessity of making a shopping trip (unless you have a particularly well-stocked kitchen), the key here is to prep everything first, and then it all cooks up rather quickly. Substitute what you have (tofu or chicken, instead of shrimp), leave out what you don't like (one of my kids hates peanuts put in this), use more or less (or no) eggs as preferred, and the vegetables used can be varied, though when I added Savoy cabbage my kids were all rather cranky about it.

Phat Thai
Soak 1 lb. rice sticks in warm water for 20-30 minutes.

Have ready:
3 T. garlic, chopped
2 lbs large shrimp, cleaned (or sliced chicken breast, or whatever you want to use)
4 (or more) eggs, beaten in a bowl
1/3 c. honey dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
2-3 c. bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
14 oz can cut baby corn (and/or straw mushrooms, sliced water chestnuts, etc.) opened and drained
3 limes, juiced
1/2 - 1 c. fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
1-2 limes, cut into eighths and put into bowl to serve with Phat Thai
3 T. fish sauce
2 T. sugar

Heat a large skillet or wok. Add 1-2 T. oil and heat. If adding any fresh vegetables, saute them first until until tender-crisp, and remove them to a large serving bowl. Add 1-2 T. more oil to skillet or wok. Add garlic and when it browns, add shrimp. When shrimp is no longer pink, transfer to the large serving bowl.

Add 1 T. oil to pan, add eggs and tilt to spread evenly. Scramble, or cook in a sheet (or cook eggs in a separate pan, if preferred). Remove when just cooked (cut if in a sheet), adding to cooked shrimp in large bowl.

Drain rice sticks, and add 1- 2 T. more oil to pan. Add rice sticks to hot oil, then using two spoons, chopsticks or spatulas (or any combination of) pull apart and turn, or clump and turn and spread, to evenly coat with oil and cook. Add sugar and fish sauce as the noodles cook. Add bean sprouts and peanuts (if your kids will let you add them) when the noodles appear cooked, and keep turning until the bean sprouts are cooked to just tender-crisp. Add canned vegetables and when warmed, transfer all to the large bowl, pour lime juice over all -and sprinkle with fresh cilantro leaves, if available and everybody at the table likes cilantro.

Serve with lime wedges, soy sauce and hot chili-garlic sauce. This makes four generous servings, but almost everybody really likes this, so I double the recipe for more than five at the table. This truly makes the very best Phat Thai ever -any night of the week.

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