Chinese New Year
Reading food magazines and planning meals are two of my favorite things to do with my daughter and daughter-in-law. Christmas was no exception. What was unusual was that as I casually put down my Bon Appetit, saying that I didn’t find much to interest me, daughter, Chelle, quickly opened to a page I had overlooked and told me about her experience eating at Pok Pok’s in Portland, OR.
Pok Pok is not in your traditional restaurant setting but actually in a regular house. Seating on the main floor with the kitchen upstairs makes for a cozy feeling atmosphere. Or so she explained.
After being seated at Pok Pok’s, she and her friends were presented a menu which was large and rather daunting with a variety of unfamiliar items from all different points in Asia, they were overwhelmed with choices. Handing it back, they asked the waiter to send them enough food for the table with menu items they think the group might enjoy.
“Mom, I had no idea what I was eating but it was heavenly!” And so she begun to explain the food. What else was there to do but to make up a shopping list and begin cooking.
I’m not foreign to the flavors and ways of Thai cooking. Somsri began working for me 28 years ago when she came from Thailand as a new bride. She brought with her all the exotic flavors and ways of serving that graced many banquets and parties. She taught me well, even showing me how to eat on banana leaves.
The Chinese New Year will soon be upon us. The recipes I have chosen from the Bon Appetit’s Pok Pok article requires a few things you would not normally find in your cupboard but they are well worth your time to seek them out and trying the wonderful flavors they impart to these two yummy dishes.
Pok Pok’s Pad Thai
5 oz. pad Thai rice noodles
3 T vegetable oil
1 large egg, room temp
6 med. shrimp, peeled, deveined (I used 1/2 can Mock Albalone–gluten dumplings)
½ block of tofu cut into cubes and deep fried until golden in place of pressed tofu
1 T sweet preserved shredded radish, rinsed, chopped into pieces (I didn’t use this)
1 cup bean sprouts
5 T tamarind water or 2 T plus 1 tsp tamarind paste mixed with 2 T plus 1 tsp water
1 ½ T Thai fish sauce
1 ½ T simple syrup (I used Karo Syrup)
4 garlic chives, cut into 1” pieces
½ tsp ground dried Thai chiles, divided
2 T crushed roasted peanuts, divided
2 lime wedges
Place noodles in a large bowl; pour hot water over to cover. Let soak until tender but not mushy, 5-10 minutes. Drain; set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over med. high heat. Add egg; stir until barely set, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp (gluten pieces), tofu and radish if using; cook until hot. Add noodles and toss cook for 1 minute. Stir in sprouts. Add tamarind water, fish sauce, and simple syrup and stir-fry until sauce is absorbed by noodles and noodles are well coated, about 1 minute. Stir in chopped garlic chives. Add ¼ tsp ground chiles and 1 T peanuts and toss well. Transfer to serving plates.
Garnish with remaining peanuts and lime wedges. Served the extra ground chiles on the side.
Long Bean, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad
2 dried Thai chiles, soaked for 2 minutes in warm water, drained
2 sm garlic cloves, crushed
¼ lime, cut into 3 wedges
1 T sugar
1 T dried tiny shrimp (I omitted)
9 long beans(2 ½ oz) or green beans, trimmed, cut into 2 ½” lengths, I cooked mine to the
tender crisp stage)
1 English cucumber, coarsely chopped into 1” pieces
2 T Thai fish sauce
2 T fresh lime juice
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 T crushed roasted peanuts
Place first 4 ingredients in a clay mortar and pound with a wooden pestle until mashed into a fine paste, about 5 minutes. (I used my immersion blender. . . much quicker). Add shrimp if using and continue to make a paste.
Add long beans, cucumber, fish sauce and lime juice into a bowl and add the paste. Mix well. Add tomatoes, lightly crush if you wish, I like the looks of mine not mushed up. Let marinate for 10 minutes. Stir in peanuts.
I garnished my salad and Pad Thai with whole peanuts as well, just because I like the texture.