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Monday, August 10, 2009

Pad See Ew

I do a lot of experimenting in the kitchen. I look at recipes all the time, but I rarely cook directly from them. Fortunately, my results are usually, at a minimum, satisfactory. My experiments may not always turn out great, but they rarely are complete flops.

Except for this recipe...

My poor husband. He's such a good sport. He'll eat anything I put in front of him. He'll even "suffer" through my serving him foo-foo food occasionally when all he ever wants is guy food. You know how most guys are, don't you?

I love Pad See Ew. I order it dang near every time I go to a Thai restaurant and I was determined to learn how to make this dish at home. Trying to perfect this dish was the hardest thing I think I've ever done in the kitchen. I have never had so many flops in my life. It actually got to the point that, about a year ago, my husband very quietly and sincerely told me that he wasn't sure he could take eating another plate of homemade Pad See Ew. The poor guy.

But, for some reason, I couldn't give up. It galled me to think that I couldn't get a dish right. I searched high and low for reasons why it might be turning out so poorly. I followed recipes I found online to a T and was still disappointed. I started making it when my husband would go out of town and then throw it away in disgust.

And then one day I decided to start all over from scratch. I went to the local Oriental market and tried some new ingredients and, low and behold, I started making some passable Pad See Ew. A few more minor tweaks, and by golly, it's turned into a darn fine dish. What really changed? I now use fresh rice noodles versus dried, palm sugar instead of brown, and add rice wine and vinegar to balance the sweet.

This recipe does take some specialty ingredients. The picture below shows most of them. It does not show the bottle of rice vinegar, but that is one of the easiest to find after soy sauce. Fresh rice noodles may be the most difficult. You can use dry noodles, but I never got a satisfactory result with them. Maybe you would have better luck. The thick soy sauce is available in some Oriental markets and on Amazon. The small bowl of brown stuff is palm sugar, which has its own distinct flavor, and is also available at Oriental markets.

I love broccoli in my Pad See Ew. I also love these steaming bags a friend recently introduced me to. They're fairly cheap and so convenient, especially when you are steaming something as part of another dish. Pop the broccoli in the bag and 3 minutes later, you have perfectly steamed broccoli.

Fluffy egg is also a requirement in good Pad See Ew. I like my egg to start out a nice bright yellow color, so I cook it in the pan first before I do anything else, remove it to a dish, and then add it back in at the last minute.

Saute the chicken (or any other meat or non-meat combination you choose) until nicely browned. Add the sauce and then the fresh rice noodles. Cut the noodles so that they end up in manageable lengths. Add the broccoli, green onion, and egg. Stir until everything is heated through and coated. Serve and enjoy! Phew! It is so good to have finally figured out this dish... goodness... it only took me three years!

Pad See Ew
Yield: 2 generous servings

2 TBS palm sugar
1 TBS thick soy sauce
1 TBS rice wine
3 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp black ground pepper

3 eggs, beaten lightly
1 TBS + 1 tsp vegetable oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped chicken
2 cups broccoli, cut into small florets
1/3 cup diced green onion tops
16 oz fresh rice noodles

Mix the sauce ingredients together (palm sugar through pepper). Set aside. Add 1 tsp of the oil to a hot skillet and cook the scrambled eggs. Remove and set aside. Steam the broccoli until it is just tender.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add the chicken and saute until almost cooked through and browned. Add the sauce to the skillet and stir to combine. Immediately add the noodles and stir. Then add the green onions and broccoli. Stir until everything is heated through and well mixed. Serve immediately.

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