Vegetable Pad Thai

Almost 30 years ago, a friend introduced me to a sweet, salty, spicy noodle dish from Thailand. The combinations of flavors made my taste buds sing. It is easy to make using ingredients I keep on hand (with the exception of bean sprouts), this common Thai dish has been a staple for my family throughout the years. Sometimes I skip the bean sprouts out of convenience, although this dish is better when they are included. Often I would just double the scrambled eggs and increase the peanuts for a great meatless meal. However, you can add any combination of pork, chicken, shrimp or tofu in small amounts. Over the year I added more vegetables and nailed down my favorite sauce. I recently started using brown rice noodles, and I prefer the texture. The key to this dish is making the sauce and having all the ingredients ready to go before you start cooking. The tamarind and optional shrimp paste can be found at any Asian, Indian, or Middle Eastern grocery stores. They last a long time in the refrigerator so you can make Pad Thai a staple too. While they aren't essential, they will make your pad Thai extra delicious. Enjoy!
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Pad Thai Ingredients

8 oz brown rice noodles 3 Tbsp Peanut or Canola oil 3 large egg, whisked 8 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined (optional) 4 garlic cloves, crushed 5 green onions, chopped with white and green parts separated 2 cup any combination of vegetables like snap peas, green beans, shredded carrots, or red peppers 2 cup bean sprouts 1 cup crushed or chopped peanuts 1 bunch fresh cilantro, loosely chopped 2 -3 limes, cut into wedges

Sauce Ingredients

3 Tbsp tamarind paste (mixed with 3 Tbsp water) 1 Tbsp tomato paste 4 Tbsp Thai fish sauce 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup or palm sugar or brown sugar 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes and/or Thai chiles, diced Shrimp paste (optional)

Sauce Directions

1) If using brown rice noodles, boil in water per package cooking instructions until al dente. If using white rice noodles, place in a large bowl of hot water to cover. Let soak until tender but not mushy, about 5 -10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2) While noodles are cooking or soaking, prepare the sauce by mixing tamarind paste with water, tomato paste, fish sauce, maple syrup, chili flakes or diced chili peppers, and shrimp paste (optional) together and mix well. Set aside.
3) Spread a tsp of oil (or nonstick cooking spray) in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add whisked eggs and scramble until just done. Set aside and cover.
4) If adding shrimp, pork, chicken or tofu, use the same pan and add a tablespoon of oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, add shrimp, pork, chicken, or tofu and garlic. Stir until shrimp or other meat is cooked through. Set aside with eggs and cover.
5) Add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot add snap peas or green beans (or any thicker vegetable) and cook until just shy of completion, with a few more minutes cooking time remaining. Add the quick cooking vegetables (like shredded carrots and sliced red peppers) and cook for another minute.
6) Add noodles and cook for 1 minute. Stir in sprouts, scrambled eggs, and shrimp (or pork, chicken, or tofu). Add sauce and cook while stirring until sauce is absorbed into the noodles and noodles are well coated, about 1 minute. Stir in Thai chilies (optional), about half the peanuts, and toss well. Transfer to the serving plates and garnish with chilies, chopped peanuts, cilantro and lime wedges.
7) Stir in Thai chilies (optional), about half the peanuts, and toss well. Transfer to the serving plates and garnish with chilies, chopped peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges.