Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sick and Thai-red

I have a newfound hatred for grocery shopping. I used to enjoy shopping at the supermarket once a week, but now I can't bare the thought of this putrid event. I don't know if it is the long lines, the freezing atmosphere, or the huge bill at the end of experience that has done me in. Whatever the culprit, I am scarred. The unfortunate part of it all is that it is a chore I can't eliminate. I have to go to the grocery - if I want to eat, cook or feed my husband I need to suck it up and brave the big bad world that is the supermarket.

So for someone who really hates to shop for groceries, I don't know why I keep making it so hard on myself. Almost every other week, some elusive ingredient ends up on my grocery list that I have to hunt far and wide for before I can find it. This week it was Thai fish sauce. I have been wanting to use my new wok, so I searched for a recipe that I thought we would enjoy. After finding it, I jotted down the ingredients and I was off. Since I live in DC, I am normally very fortunate when it comes to ethnic ingredients in the national supermarket chains. The Safeway near my house has a wide selection of Hispanic and Asian ingredients and I can usually find what I need. Today I wasn't so lucky. I trudged my way through all of the aisles painstakingly marking off each item on my weekly list as I placed it in the basket. When I got frighteningly close to the checkout I realized that there were two items on the list that had not been crossed off - rice sticks and Thai fish sauce. Both of these were key ingredients in my Pad Thai recipe and I new I needed to find them. I went back to the Asian aisle and came up dry. I remembered seeing rice sticks at Trader Joe's and I was certain that they would have Thai fish sauce too. I checked out and made my way to my second grocery store of the day. I found the rice sticks in a flash and didn't see anything in the Asian section that resembled Thai fish sauce. I asked the attendant if they carried it and he immediately answered with a negative. I could have screamed! Despite his undesirable answer, he did offer up where he purchases his Thai fish sauce - World Market. I headed out of the store and back to my car feeling extremely frustrated. I could not believe that I had to drive to the other side of town to World Market for another ingredient. This was way too much wok - oops, I mean work. Once I arrived at World Market before I even made it to the back of the store where their food products are placed I came across a bowl made in Thailand - this had to be a positive omen.

It was! I found Thai Fish Sauce at World Market and after three stores, a quarter tank of gas, and 3 hours I was finished my grocery shopping for the week. Now do you understand why I loathe this weekly occurrence?

With the memory of my shopping trip buried, I jumped right in to my first wok prepared recipe. This was an amazing dish! It was a little heavy on the prep work and I was glad that I chose to prepare it on a weekend. Forrest happily served as my sous chef and the meal came together fairly quickly with his help. We had a ton leftover that we will eat another night this week and it was a great change of pace for a Saturday night dinner. Way more delicious than takeout and healthier too!

Cooking Light May 2000

6 3/4 cups water, divided
1/2 pound uncooked rice sticks (rice-flour noodles) or vermicelli
2 tablespoons oil, divided
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten ( I will substitute Egg Beaters next time)
3/4 pound skinned, boned chicken breast, cut into 1-inch strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup (1-inch) sliced green onions
2 teaspoons paprika
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
6 lime wedges

Place 6 cups water in a stir-fry pan or wok; bring to a boil. Add noodles; cook 4 minutes. (I would cook it for 6 minutes next time, I found they could have been a little more tender)

Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well. Place cooked noodles in a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon oil; toss well. Set aside.

Combine 3/4 cup water, soy sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar; set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a stir-fry pan or wok over medium heat. Add eggs; stir-fry 1 minute. Add eggs to noodle mixture.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and garlic;

stir-fry 5 minutes. Add to noodle mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in pan. Add shrimp, onions, and paprika; stir-fry 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture

and noodle mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; toss with sprouts and cilantro. Sprinkle with peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.

I peppered my shrimp and chicken before I cooked them for additional flavor. I did not salt them because I knew the soy sauce and fish sauce would provide enough salt for the entire dish and I didn't want to introduce additional salt in any way.


Liz said...

I love Pad Thai but have never made it at home. I am totally going to try this, thanks!

I am also surprised you had such a hard time finding fish sauce-- we have it everywhere here in Minneapolis. Glad you eventually found it!

Gabriela said...

Mmm-Mmm - Pad Thai, my favorite! Your photograph of the finished dish is positively appetizing. You must share the leftovers! Congratulations on persevering and finding the fish sauce.

Gabriela said...

Me again - my husband wants to know whether the peanuts are salted or unsalted. Thank you.

Elizabeth F. said...

Gabriela - I just used Planters Cocktail Peanuts since we had some around the house and they are salted. They are just used as a garnish and we didn't put many, so the saltiness didn't make much of a difference.

Bridget said...

I love pad thai! But you're right, definitely a lot of prep work. At least it only takes a few minutes of actual cooking.

Mom said...

This dish looks and sounds delicious. I don't think I have ever tried it in a restaurant. You surely are venturing out....Asian!!! And I agree with Gabriela, your pictures are gorgeous. I don't know if you'll end up a master chef or a kitchen photographer.

Sherri said...

This looks and sounds so good! I already have most of the ingredients....hmmm...I think I'll add it to next week's menu. Thanks!