created: 2004-07-18 22:41:04
As interpreted by Leah Whalen.
The first thing to do is soak your noodles. They should really soak for over half an hour, although longer is also fine. Also, if you're going to be using tofu, you might want to press some of the water out of it while you start the noodles soaking. Then Will usually does prep work, so that everything is ready and handy when he needs it. Cut a few scallions on the diagonal into moderate chunks. Also have your peanuts slightly crushed, and an egg or two ready to fry separately for garnish. Clean the shrimp, if using. Take the tofu out from under its weight and cut it into cubes of about an inch square. Another thing to prepare before starting is your sauce. This is a simple ratio of one part fish sauce to one part rice wine vinegar to one part sugar. Add a dash of Asian hot sauce, or, as our old cookbook advised, ketchup. Give it a good stir to make sure the sugar dissolves. Also prepare your garlic. Will uses what would be considered by most people to be a ridiculous amount, but then they haven't tasted his pad thai. I would encourage you to be generous with the garlic. The same rule applies for the vegetable oil -- you want to fry up the generous amounts of garlic plus the tofu, now pressed and cubed, in a pretty good amount of oil. Heat the oil in a large wok, and when it is hot, add the tofu and crush the garlic in with a press. Stir fry until the tofu starts to look golden, then scoop it out with a slotted spoon and set aside. (At this point, if the amount of oil in the pan is too horrifying, you can drain some of it, but remember that oil helps ease the passage of pad thai down the old throat.) Add the scallions and briefly stir fry; if you're using fresh shrimp, now's the time to add them too. Cook until they're pink, then drain the noodles and add them. Toss them liberally with the oil until they get a nice translucent effect. Now douse the noodles with the sauce. Continue to cook, stirring so that the noodles are coated with the sauce and any excess sauce cooks off. What you're aiming for is a softish noodle, which will be achieved by absorption of the sauce (I think). Taste to make sure you have the consistency right. Turn off the heat under the wok. Then quickly fry the eggs in a separate pan, as if you were making an omelet with no filling. Will usually tears them into shreds and tosses them into the pad thai when they are solid. Then toss the pad thai with the crushed peanuts and turn out into a serving bowl. Limes are a necessary addition to serving -- squeeze them over the noodles and enjoy!