This Phad Thai (Phat Thai) recipe comes from one of my favourite books on asian cooking. It’s South East Asian Food by Rosemary Brissenden. Elizabeth David, no less, is quoted as saying that it’s “a book every serious cook should possess”. A great recommendation.
The particular version in Brissenden’s book is Sen Chan Phat Thai which owes it’s name to the use of Chantaburi Noodles, but she suggests using Thai sen lek noodles, available as A Grade Banh Pho imported from Thailand and available in Asian speciality food shops. Noodles, either in soup or fried are the standard lunch dish of urban Thailand. Most are close to the Chinese prototypes from which they are derived. Phat Thai (Padh Thai) however, contains flavours that are characteristically Thai.
250g (9oz) narrow dried rice noodles
4 cloves of garlic
5 tbsp vegetable oil
4 large raw prawns, shelled de-veined but tails left on
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
100g (3 and a half oz) hard white beancurd, cut into very small dice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1-2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp tamarind water
2 tbsp dried shrimp washed well and then ground
2 cups beansprouts, tailed and washed
half cup of Chinese leeks or garlic chives cut into 2.5cm / 1inch pieces
half a cup of roasted peanuts, very roughly ground.
about 20 leaves of Indian or Asian Pennywort (bua bok; Centella Asiatica) oe 1-2 leaves of slightly bitter lettuce such as Italian endive or tree lettuce or mignonette lettuce.
half a cup of beansprouts
a few spring onion/scallion curls
half a cup of roasted and very roughly ground peanuts.
1 lime cut into wedges the Thai way.
As with most stir fried food you need to have all your ingredients prepared first. This fast paced cooking method doesn’t allow for mid-term preparation. So have all your ingredients in separate little bowls arranged around the cooking area.
Soak the noodles in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly then cut into manageable lengths with scissors (about 3 cuts across should be enough). Smash and chop 1 clove of garlic, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok on medium heat and fry until yellow. Add the fresh prawns and stir-fry unti they are cooked. Remove and keep warm. In a mortar or food processor attachment mash the rest of the garlic, the shallots and the chilli flakes into a fine paste.
From this point on the cooking will be more easily done in two batches in order to allow plenty of room in the wok for tossing.
Add two more tablespoons of oil to the wok and when it is hot put in half the garlic, chilli and shallot paste and stir-fry, turning constantly to avoid sticking and to ensure everything is well mixed and oiled. Push the noodles to one side of the wok. Add a little more oil if necessary, add half the beancurd and stir-fry for a minute. Push this aside in the pan also. Break one egg into the wok and pierce its yolk. When the egg starts to set on the bottom, stir and scramble it lightly with the edge of the spatula. return the noodles and the beancurd to the centre of the pan and continue stirring until everything is mixed together well.
Turning the heat down a little, add half the fish sauce, sugar and tamarind water and toss everything together until the sugar has dissolved. Add the dried shrimp, 1 cup of beansprouts and half of the chinese leaks. Taste and adjust the flavours to your liking then turn off the heat and stir in half a cup of the roasted peanuts.
Place in a bowl and keep aside while you cook a second batch. After doing this add the first batch to the pan for a final stir and warming, then dish everything up on to one side of a serving platter. Arrange the prawns on top or on the outer edge. Arrange the pennywort or bitter lettuce leaves, a handful of washed beansprouts, a few spring onion curls and the remainder of the roughly ground peanuts decoratively in separate mounds on the other side of the dish. Add attractively cut wedges of lime for individual diners to squeeze over the noodles to their taste and have on the table a bowl of fish sauce with finley sliced rounds of small red chillies in it (Nam Pla Phrik), one of the chilli flakes (Phrik Pon) and one of white sugar so that each person amy adjust the seasoning as desired.