Pad Thai is one of those dishes I like to make to hold me over another meal that takes more time to prepare. I thought about making this one while I was waiting for beef ribs to braise. I already had most of the ingredients in the pantry, being this an Asian kitchen and all; I just walked over to the nearest grocery store in Harlem to buy the red bell pepper, the tofu, and the bean sprouts.
The key here is not to overcook the noodles. Soaking them in cold water after cooking is important. The cold water shocks the noodles and stops them from cooking any further. They get heated up again when you assemble the entire dish together towards the end.
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, sliced
1 package extra firm tofu, diced
scallions, finely chopped
2 handfuls of bean sprouts
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted, crushed
cilantro, finely chopped
For the sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
a few jiggers of fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 Thai chiles, chopped
1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add rice noodles; let stand 8 to 10 minutes or until noodles are soft but firm. Rinse under cold water; drain well. Set aside.
2. Make the sauce: combine all sauce ingredients and stir until sugar is diluted. Adjust to taste; it should be salty enough with a sour kick and not at all sweet. Add chiles for heat. Set aside.
3. Heat a little oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add egg; scramble until set. Remove from skillet. Set aside.
4. Add more oil to skillet. Sauté garlic until brown and then the onions until translucent. Add chicken; stir-fry until cooked through. Add the bell pepper, the tofu, scallions, and bean sprouts. Stir-fry until bell pepper is soft, about 5 minutes. Pour in half of the sauce and incorporate.
5. Drain the rice noodles and add to the skillet and keep stir-frying. Add remaining sauce to balance everything out. Remove from heat. Stir in scrambled egg and sprinkle with the peanuts. Serve with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.