1381216_10151688762782055_1755356074_nMy first introduction to Thai food was Pad Thai. I’ve always loved this stir-fried rice noodle dish. In all my years of cooking, I had never learned the secrets to making the sauce — let alone Pad Thai itself. Then, my brother married my now sister-in-law. She was born and raised in Thailand. I figured who better to learn Thai cuisine than from my sister-in-law. I asked her and then she let me in on a secret. She didn’t know how to cook. But, during a return to Thailand, my sister-in-law — knowing that I wanted to learn how to make Thai dishes — asked her grandmother to teach her how to make noodle and curry dishes. My sister-in-law came back home and that’s when our Thai cooking lessons began. She combined ingredients to make dishes tasty — and spicy. And, we both went on a quest to make really good Pad Thai. After several trials and dishes, this is what we have come up with. By the way, you can choose whatever meat — beef, pork, shrimp, chicken, tofu — you’d like to serve. For this version, I used chicken and bacon.

3-ounce tamarind paste
1 to 1-1/2 cup boiling water
4 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
4 ounces rice stick noodles
6 ounces bacon, cooked and broken into bite-size slices
8 ounces chicken
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 cup chopped scallions, divided
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 eggs, beaten
3 ounces bean sprouts, divided
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped, divided
Freshly ground dried red chile peppers, to taste
1 lime, cut into wedges

Place the tamarind paste in the boiling water and set aside while preparing the other ingredients. Combine the fish sauce, palm sugar, and rice wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. Place the rice stick noodles in a mixing bowl to soak and cover with hot water. Set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Once the other ingredients are measured out into separate bowls, drain the water from the softened noodles and set them aside. Combine the tamarind paste with the other sauce ingredients. Stir to combine. Place a wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Heat until it shimmers, then add chicken. Cook the chicken until brown, moving constantly, for no longer than 1 minute. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. If necessary, add some more peanut oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Add 2/3 of the scallions and then the garlic, cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the eggs to the pan; once the eggs begin to set up, about 15 to 20 seconds, stir to scramble. Add the remaining ingredients in the following order and toss after each addition: noodles, sauce, cabbage, chicken, bacon and 2/3 of the bean sprouts and peanuts. Toss everything until heated through, but no longer than 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the remaining scallions, bean sprouts and peanuts. Serve with the ground chile peppers and lime wedges.