July 23, 2010

Spicy Thai Basil Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

I was lying on my couch on Monday night, when I thought to myself, "all I really want is spicy Thai basil noodles." Then wanting became needing, and needing became rampant, uncontrolled craving.

Two days later, obsession yet to be satisfied, this emerged from my stove-top:

I'll fill you in on the two days in between. First of all, there were other dinners that had to be made and eaten. Second of all, when Monday night's craving hit I realized I needed rice noodles. So I texted my friend and co-worker, Dot, who lives in Philadelphia's bustling Chinatown area, "do you know where I can get some rice noodles?" Immediate reply, "course, my mom will go get some for you tomorrow."

On Wednesday, the noodles were exchanged at work (thank you thank you!!), and at night I scooted out to the market for some oyster sauce and mirin, two ingredients I needed but didn't yet have. 

In my mind, I was craving the Holy Basil Noodles from Klong on St. Mark's Pl. in New York City. Wide, thick, spicy, saucy noodles stir fried with flavorful, dark duck meat. This would not be Klong's noodles, and there would be no duck to be had, but I could try to approximate the flavor I so craved. What I discovered is that every Pad Kee Mao recipe is different, with its own ratio and list of ingredients. 

My own combination, loosely based on a few different recipes I gathered, was spicy, saucy, and definitely fulfilled my Thai craving. This dish brings the heat -- every bite is packed with fiery chilies, then chased with a cool kick of basil -- which I love. Overall, this dish was loaded with flavor and actually quite simple to make. 

Now that I know that every Pad Kee Mao recipe is unique, I may just need to book a trip to New York, head straight to Klong, and see if I can get my hands on their exact  recipe. In the meantime, my own stove is a tad closer than NYC, so I'm glad to know I can make this anytime the craving does hit!

Pad Kee Mao: Spicy Thai Basil Noodles
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons Dark Soy & Tomato Sauce
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
Juice of half a lime 
1/2 lb. drained and pressed firm or extra firm tofu
7 ounces rice noodles
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 clove garlic, minced
2 de Arbol chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small onion, sliced
Broccoli, shredded carrots, and thinly sliced bell peppers
1/8 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
1/2 to 1 ounce fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Half a lime, cut into wedges, for serving.
For sauce: In a small bowl, combine oyster sauce, sugar, mirin, rice vinegar, soy, chiles and lime juice. Mix well and set aside.
Soak noodles in warm water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pan fry the cubed tofu until lightly browned on each side. Place a large pan or wok over high heat. When pan is hot, add oil. Add garlic, chiles  and sliced onion, and vegetables and sauté to let flavors infuse oil, about 1 minute. Add peanuts and tofu and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes.
Add basil and drained noodles to the pan. Add sauce, and toss until mixed and well-heated, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve hot, with lime wedges for squeezing over noodles.

1 comment:

  1. NYC is not that far! And in addition to an E Village Thai/Ramen pig out we can do a Chinatown tour now that I've spent a lot of time at restaurants down there! But my offer does have an expiration date (mostly to motivate!)



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