I was lucky enough to grow up really close to an excellent authentic Thai restaurant. There’s nothing trendy about this one. It’s nice and all, but in a way that makes you feel like you’re in someone’s living room. Some of my earliest memories involve that place- drinking coconut milk, holding spoons on my nose, making the bespectacled owner smile in delight while I greedily gobbled up the Chicken Massaman he had been sure I wouldn’t like, and feeling complete wonder at the delightfulness of sweet sticky rice. And the curry puffs, oh the curry puffs.
I’ll admit I was never a big Pad Thai person until I came to college. But soon after arriving I guess you could say it became my ramen noodles. And then a couple of weeks ago I made the most wonderful discovery- Pad Thai is actually pretty easy to make and totally doable in my tiny dorm kitchen.
The great thing about making this dish is the minimal cleanup and cooking time. The worst part is the prep time, but there are a couple ways to cut down on it, such as using pre-minced garlic and ginger. The preparation is by no means awful, but you do need to prepare the peanut sauce and wash and cut the raw ingredients, so depending on how experienced of a cook you are it may take longer for some than others.
But onto the wonderful things. Making Pad Thai requires a pot to cook the rice noodles and a pan to cook the rest, which you then add the noodles to at the very end. But that’s it. It’s not quite a one-pot meal but its pretty close. Then the noodles cook while you cook the chicken and vegetables, which goes quickly because they are cut into small pieces. Lather on that sauce and voilà!
I kind of, sort of followed a recipe, but that’s one of the marvelous things about cooking: you can make it your own. The trick to this dish, for me anyway, is to get the peanut sauce right. After that it all tastes delicious and tangy. I have a friend who has some dietary restrictions so she couldn’t eat the noodles. I just sliced some cabbage to a noodle length as a substitute and made a noodle-less version. And you know what? Covered in that smooth nutty sauce with a little bit of kick, it was almost as good as the noodle version! You can bet I’ll be making this one again and I think you should too. Time to get your Thai on.