Monthly Archives: February 2013

Pad Thai Recipe

I do hate to tell a lie. So if I’m being honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of pad thai prior to visiting Thailand. This may be due, in part, to the fervor with which my person loves this dish. If nothing else, I am what could be described as “needlessly defiant” and his absolute obsession with it made me go “meh” to pad thai whenever it was suggested. With all that said, I’m never one to turn down a new experience, so while traveling I tried this dish. I tried it both in restaurants and from street carts and I urge you to take any snobbishness you may harbor and throw it out the window because the street cart pad thai was infinitely superior to the restaurant pad thai. It was fresher and cheaper, plus you get to eat it at the nearby picnic tables with cold beer watching all the tourists mosey along.

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We were lucky enough to take a cooking class in Chiang Mai where we learned the traditional way of making this delicious noodle-based dish. Upon returning home (and waiting an appropriate amount of time, since we were a bit fed up of Thai food in the weeks following our trip) we decided it was time to put those cooking skills to use! I was able to find most of the necessary ingredients in my regular market; I began by chopping the bean sprouts, scallions, garlic, chicken and tofu:

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Garlic, scallions, bean sprouts, tofu

Then I put on the noodles to boil while heating up the skillet. The noodles should only take a few minutes to cook, so keep an eye on them!

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Boil rice noodles.

This process of cooking it all up takes a little finesse and pay attention, cause it happens fast:

First, heat regular vegetable or canola oil over low heat, then throw in the garlic to flavor the oil. Then add the chicken and tofu, cook for about one minute. Next break an egg (if you’re into that sort of thing) and add oyster sauce and fish sauce, then crank up the heat. Now, add the noodles to the mix, followed immediately by a tablespoon on water. This is a very important step, but a little scary. Do not be afraid! Forge ahead and add the rest of the veggies. Give it a stir or two and BAM! It’s done.

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Cook it all up.

The entire process only takes about 5 minutes once the pan is hot and it is well worth it. This dish is traditionally garnished with peanuts, red pepper flakes and lime. All of that, as always, is completely up to you!

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Add red pepper flakes.

What’s your favorite Thai or Asian dish?

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Austin: Pizza, Tacos and Sunshine

My sister, who lives in Austin, is getting married this year. And since I don’t want to be an absentee maid of honor, I will be venturing down South several times over the next few months. The first of these visits came last weekend for her engagement party. Over my 2 days there, I ate at no fewer than three Austin establishments. The first of these, Magnolia Cafe, I’ve written about before, so we’ll skip it.

On Friday night, we piled into the car and drove down to the drag to fight the UT students for parking and then for sidewalk space. We did not fight them, however, for a booth at the Mellow Mushroom (8:00p must be when the “old” people eat). We were seated right away and each ordered something different:

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Kosmic Karma: Red sauce base with feta and mozzarella cheeses, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and Roma tomatoes with a pesto swirl.

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Mellowterranean: Olive oil and garlic base with all natural grilled chicken, onions, roasted red peppers, black olives, chives, feta and mozzarella cheeses with a side of tzatziki sauce.

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Buffalo Chicken: Mozzarella cheese, grilled Buffalo chicken, caramelized onions, Applewood smoked bacon with a swirl of Buffalo sauce. Served with your choice of bleu cheese or ranch dressing.

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House Special: Red sauce base with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham, Applewood smoked bacon, mushrooms, black olives, Roma tomatoes, green peppers and onions. Topped with extra mozzarella.

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And Kate built her own salad… shout out to the ring!

The next day was February 2nd and my bestie and I were cruising around with the top down. I repeat: February 2nd, it was 73 degrees and sunny. Texas-1, New York-0.

We went to one of Austin’s favorite food trucks, Torchy’s Tacos on South 1st.

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“Damn Good Tacos” indeed.

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The Wrangler: eggs and potatoes topped with smoked beef brisket and jack cheese. Served with tomatillo salsa.

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Street Corn: Fresh roasted off-the-cob corn topped with ancho aioli, queso fresco, cilantro and dusted with New Mexico red chili powder.

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The Independent: Hand-battered and fried portobello mushroom strips, refried black beans, roasted corn, escabeche carrots, queso fresco, cilantro, and avocado. Drizzled with ancho aioli.

I must say, as someone who aspires to run a food truck one day, I know for sure that I would not make tacos in Austin. This is a market cornered by established joints like this that are, in fact, damn good. What kind of food would you like to see served from a truck?

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