Thai food speaks to my soul.
The balance of flavour that is quintessential to Thai cooking is comforting in a world that is a little off balance. I love the fact that I have the power to control this balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy and lift a dish from appetising to magnificent with a few tweaks - a splish of this and a shake of that.
This practice can be applied to our own lives; by making simple, positive adjustments - we can find harmony and happiness. The ingredients to this balance may be trickier to come by - but the secret is to stop and listen to our souls' whisperings and tweak as necessary.
The majority of Thai food is a sanctuary for the gluten intolerant as the focus seems to be on ingredients such as rice flour, corn starch and soya, instead of wheat.
I first tried Pad Thai about a month ago, when I visited Chef Pons. Since then I have come to realise how much of an institution this restaurant is to Capetonians and I believe it is because they have the balance just right. Not only the flavours, but the decor, service and ambiance too.
I was delighted by the freshness and the lightness of this dish and have found myself, on numerous occasions, daydreaming about the taste sensations that I experienced.
Chicken Pad Thai:(Serves 2)
Recipe courtesy of Eat In
250g Thai rice noodles
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
Marinade for chicken:
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp soy sauce*
Thumb size piece of ginger, minced
Fresh red chillies (I used green)
3 cups bean sprouts
1/4 cup chicken stock
Pad Thai sauce:
3/4 Tbsp tamarind paste*, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
4 Tbsp fish sauce* (I thought this was a bit much so used 2)
1/2 Tbsp dried chilli
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 spring onions, sliced
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/3 cup crushed peanuts*
Fresh lime or lemon juice
*Some soy sauces contain gluten
*Tamarind paste, fish sauce and peanuts all contain yeast
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil and remove from heat. Dunk in the rice noodles. Allow noodles to soak. Noodles are ready when they are soft enough to be eaten, but are still al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- Combine the Pad Thai sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Stir well to dissolve the tamarind paste and brown sugar. Set aside. (This may seem like a lot of sugar, but you need it to balance out the sourness of the tamarind - this balance is important).
- Marinade the chicken in cornstarch and soy sauce for about 30 minutes. Warm up a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Fry chilli and ginger for 30 seconds. Add chicken, with its marinade. Stir-fry for 1 minute. When wok/pan becomes dry, add a little chicken stock.
- Add the noodles, and pour the Pad Thai sauce over. Using tongs gently stir-fry the noodles for a minute or two. Add the bean sprouts and season with the pepper. Continue stir frying until the noodles are soft. (Around 2 minutes). Add a touch of stock again if it seems too dry.
- Top with generous amounts of fresh coriander, spring onion and chopped nuts. Squeeze the limes over the top.