Pad Woon Sen

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Hey guys! I know, I know, it’s been a really, really long time since I’ve written a blog post. Sooooooo sorry about that, but we made a really big life change! We moved from the hustle and bustle of a suburb north of Dallas to a little town southwest of Fort Worth called Granbury. We just love it down here!

As if selling a house, buying another one and then moving wasn’t stressful enough, we decided to completely rip out an entire kitchen and living room and renovate the new house. Now, when I say “we” ripped out, I pretty much mean me! Gotta keep the hubs working ya know. Somebody has to pay for all this! Yes, just give me a ball pein hammer and stand back! I realized I’m very good at demo and I like it!

Anyway, I’M BACK! Yay! I decided as my New Year’s resolution I was going to try my hand at cuisine from different countries. There are several reasons for this. One, where we live now, home cookin’, Mexican Food and BBQ reign supreme. If you ask where the best Thai food restaurant in town is, it’s a dead giveaway, “You ain’t from here”. Two, I LOVE cooking food from different countries and cultures and enjoy the challenge; and, three, I gave up on the lose weight and be a better person, blah, blah, blah thingy years ago.

So here’s the first of many that I hope you decide to try. Don’t let Thai food intimidate you! Not all Thai food is spicy, and remember YOU are always in control of the heat level. Some tips before we get to the recipe. I use a non-stick wok. I’m not a wok master, so non-stick works best for me. Just get a really high quality one. You can use a skillet in this recipe, but you probably will have to remove the eggs to cook the vegetables then add them back in, otherwise they will burn. You see the wonderful thing about a wok is you have a lower cooking heat the further up the side you push the food. So when the eggs are set, push them up the side, add the veggies. Once the veggies are tender, incorporate the eggs and move on with the rest of the recipe. Many people make the argument that they won’t use a wok enough to justify the expense. I use my wok ALL. THE. TIME. Heck you can stir fry just about anything in a non-stick wok with very little oil. It’s a great way to cook healthy.

About the ingredients. You should be able to find all the ingredients in any grocery store that has a decent Asian food aisle section. If I can find these ingredients in Granbury, they should be available just about anywhere. The glass noodles are sometimes called cellophane noodles, not to be confused with rice sticks or rice noodles. Glass noodles are very thin like little threads and are made out of mung beans. They are soaked in cold water to soften them. Fish sauce and oyster sauce should be easy to find along with Sambal Oelek, which is just a red chili paste that comes in a little jar. It’s used in a lot of different Asian cuisines as an ingredient or as a condiment.

One last word. I love fried tofu and use it in this dish. If you’re using tofu, make sure you turn it in the oil gently until all sides are lightly browned. If overcooked, tofu becomes tough and won’t absorb the flavors of the sauce as easily. If you don’t want to try tofu or you’re afraid you’ll turn into a Hippie or something if you eat it, just stir fry your meat first, then continue. See the note at the end of the recipe for further info.

Second last word (promise). Wok cooking is fast and hot. You won’t have time to prep or mix something once you start stir frying. Make sure you have all your ingredients within reach before you even think about lighting that wok!!

Pad Woon Sen

Like Pad Thai, Pad Woon Sen is a very common and popular dish in Thailand and here in the United States. This recipe is made with fried tofu, but it can be made with thinly sliced chicken, pork, beef or whole peeled, deveined shrimp. Don’t discount tofu. Once bathed in sauce, it takes on the sauce flavors and is very tasty. This is not a vegetarian dish. I use tofu because it’s delicious! For those familiar with the Thai heat scale, this recipe is about 2.5 on a 1 to 5 heat scale, so adjust the heat accordingly by reducing or increasing the Sambal Oelek.

Servings: 4 as a noodle course or 2 as a main course

Difficulty: Intermediate

4 oz                glass noodles (bean threads)

1                     brick extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, cut in 3/4 inch cubes

6 tbsp            vegetable oil

2                     eggs, slightly beaten

1                     carrot, thinly sliced

2 cups            cabbage, roughly chopped

1                      yellow onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves          garlic, minced

3 tbsp              soy sauce

2 tbsp              oyster sauce

1 tbsp              fish sauce

3 tbsp              water

3 tbsp              Sambal Oelek (red chili paste)

4 tsp                 sugar

1/4 tsp              black pepper

2                        small green onions, bias cut unto 1-inch pieces, green tips and all

Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, red pepper strips, Sambal Oelek

Soak the glass noodles in lots of cold water for about an hour (package directions may say 15 minutes, but go longer). Transfer noodles to a strainer and drain out all the water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, remove the tofu from its container. Place several layers of paper towels on a plate. Place the tofu on top. Cover with several more paper towels with another plate on top. Weigh down with something heavy to press the tofu. Let sit at least an hour, preferably two, changing out the paper towels once. The tofu is now pressed and drained and ready to be cubed and fried. Heat the oil in the wok on high heat and fry the tofu in batches until lightly browned on all sides. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Combine soy sauce and next six ingredients, whisk and set aside.

Reduce the oil to medium-high and add the eggs. Fry them for a minute or so until partially set, then stir, breaking them up. Push off to one side. Add the carrots, cabbage yellow onion and garlic and stir fry with a shoveling motion combining all ingredients until the cabbage just begins to wilt.

Add the fried tofu, noodles, green onions and all the sauce. Toss gently to combine all the ingredients making sure not to break down the tofu and noodles.

The noodles tend to clump, but don’t worry, just use tongs to pull equal amounts onto each plate for serving, then top with the other ingredients and sauce from the wok.

Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh coriander and red pepper strips, if desired. Serve with additional Sambal Oelek for more heat.

*If using meat or shrimp, stir fry the meat or shrimp and continue with the eggs. You must make sure chicken is cooked thru and has turned white on all sides before continuing with the recipe. Shrimp has a shorter cooking time, so push the shrimp aside before it has turned completely pink and start frying the eggs or the shrimp will be overcooked.

Enjoy! And, remember, I always love your comments!

 

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