Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
I love Pad Thai. It was the very first Thai dish that I ever had—at Seng Thai in Portland Maine, back in the early 1990’s. I loved the sour-salty-sweet pungent goodness that is Pad Thai. Since then I have tried Pad Thai at any number of Thai restaurants across the United States. I finally learned how to make it myself from Kasma Loha-unchit in Oakland a couple of years ago. (Check out thaifoodandtravel.com for her current schedule of classes.) My one caveat with Pad Thai is that the leftovers are awful. Pad Thai is one of those few dishes that does not keep well at all. The noodles turn to glue and it is repulsively unattractive. Blech. It is meant to be cooked and eaten—don’t even think about saving some for lunch the next day. That is why I was so delighted to come across a recipe for a Pad Thai-style rice salad in the New York Times cookbook by Amanda Hesser. It was such a brilliantly simple idea I couldn’t believe that I had not thought of it myself.
For this recipe, you cook the rice in lots of boiling salted water until just tender—the same way that you would cook pasta. Drain the rice once it is tender (about 12-15 minutes) and set aside. Have all of your garnishes ready to toss with the room temperature rice. I had all of the classic Pad Thai ingredients. Diced cooked chicken, shrimp, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, Thai chilies (just ‘cause I like it spicy), chopped peanuts and egg. Combine the garnishes with the rice and set it aside while you make the Pad Thai vinaigrette. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette and enjoy! This was a dish that was great the next day for lunch!
Pad Thai Style Rice Salad
1 ½ cups long grain rice
Salted water to cook the rice in.
¼ cup or so of oil for sautéing
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ pound of shrimp
¼ pound of raw chicken cut into bite sized pieces
2 scallions chopped and set aside.
1 cup of bean sprouts, set aside
2 Thai chilies, minced and set aside (optional)
¼ cup of chopped peanuts
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ tsp. cayenne or ground red chilies (optional)
2 Tbsp. fried shallot (not traditional but very good) set aside.
Lime wedges for garnish
1 ½ Tbsp. Tamarind paste
2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. fish sauce, or more to taste
2 Tbsp. neutral oil.
1. Cook the rice in rapidly boiling salted water until tender (start checking on it after 10 minutes has passed). Drain and set aside.
2. Combine the Vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
3. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a non stick pan and scramble the 2 eggs. Set aside.
4. Heat another tablespoon or two of oil in a pan or wok. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic. Add the diced chicken and sauté until cooked thru. Season with a little bit of fish sauce or salt during the cooking process. Set aside.
5. Heat a little bit more oil in the wok or pan and quickly sauté with shrimp. Again, season with fish sauce or salt and set aside.
6. Toss all of the garnished with the rice. This means everything. I like to reserve a little bit of cilantro to sprinkle on top of the finished dish.
7. Toss the rice dish with the vinaigrette. Taste, season with a bit more salt, sugar or fish sauce until you are happy with the confluence of flavors.