You are not going mad. Yes, you have seen this before. I posted this recipe in September of last year. But it is so delicious that I am reprising it for a competition sponsored by Destinology, a luxury travel firm here in the UK. The idea of the challenge is to create a twist on a national recipe – to reimagine it. And as I already do that on a fairly regular basis I thought this one would fit the bill nicely.
My recipe twist is a healthy deconstruction of the popular Thai street food dish, Pad Thai. In the West you will find it on any Thai restaurant menu, but I understand that it is really just a food cart meal in Thailand itself. Thai foodies are a bit bemused at Thai restaurants in Western countries being judged by their iterations of Pad Thai. I guess when pretty much everything one eats in Thailand is knock-out amazing the noodle dish Pad Thai must seem a bit pedestrian.
Not to me though.
An authentic Pad Thai is tangle of rice noodles, tofu, sprouts, shallots and aromatics. And quite a lot of oil and sodium. I LOVE Pad Thai but when making it for us at home I take out ingredients that contribute to it being less than healthy. So, out goes the heavy-handed fish sauce, the salted radishes and anchovies, and a lot of the cooking oil. In the West we typically include strips of cooked egg and sometimes a spicy peanut sauce (satay). Although these aren’t strictly authentic they are commonplace enough – because they are so delicious!
My healthier and more vegetable-filled version uses lower GL brown rice noodles (and a lot less of them too), radish sprouts (instead of salted and sugared preserved radish), a heavy hand with the shredded raw vegetables as kind of noodle-alikes, and I mix it in a sour and slightly sweetened tamarind sauce. Plus some chilli and peanuts, of course. All of this is laid over a flat omelette shot through with caramelised shallots. The emphasis here is on the vegetables rather than the noodles, and to be honest we don’t miss the noodles one bit. All of the taste that you want is here, and none of the trouser-stretching simple carbohydrates.
Enough chit chat. Here’s that recipe. Again.
Pad Thai Open-Faced Omelette
If you don’t have the brown rice noodles, use buckwheat soba noodles, regular rice noodles, vermicelli or no noodles at all: the tangy, sauce-soaked vegetables may be all the topping you need. And vegans, I haven’t forgotten you: swap the omelet for a socca (chickpea pancake) or dosa. For both recipes keep the pancakes plain and unflavoured.
Handful of raw almonds OR finely chopped roasted almonds or peanuts
Pad Thai Sauce
1 tbsp tamarind paste*
1 tbsp tamari sauce, soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tbsp lime juice
1 ½ tsp maple syrup or date syrup or jaggery
A few grinds of fresh black pepper
1 tbsp water
1 small courgette/zucchini/summer squash
3 inch piece of mooli/white radish
Handful of radishes (If you don’t want to use a mooli, just use more radish)
100g plain or smoked tofu (optional – I didn’t in these images), pressed of liquid
75g brown rice noodles OR white rice noodles, vermicelli or even spaghetti
1 tbsp (divided) coconut oil or rapeseed oil
4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (or 1/2 small onion)
pinch of salt and sugar
Handful of baby spinach or other small, soft leaves (I used chard)
4 spring onions/scallions, sliced on the diagonal
Good handful each of coriander and mint
1 red chilli (optional), sliced
Radish sprouts or bean sprouts
* increase the lime juice and maple syrup if you don’t have tamarind paste
1. If using whole almonds, roast in a 180C/350F oven for 8 minutes. Cool then tumble into small pieces in a food processor or similar (or chop very finely). Set aside.
3. Take the carrot, courgette and mooli and either use a spiraliser to make noodles, use a julienne peeler, mandoline, or slice very thinly. Slice the radish into thin discs. Dice the tofu, if using. Set aside.
4. Cook the rice noodles in plenty of boiling water until just done. Mine were ready in eight minutes. Cool slightly in a sieve then pop the noodles back in the pan and douse with most of the Pad Thai sauce. If using just vegetables, toss the sauce through these.
5. Now, for the omelet that thinks it is a crepe. Heat a small sauté pan, adding half of the oil. Chuck in half of the sliced shallots and sauté until golden, stirring frequently. Whisk the eggs, adding the seasoning; pour into the pan, swirling to cover. Let this cook on a low-medium heat until just cooked through – pop on a lid if you like to speed up the cooking. You may like to flash this under a hot grill if your eggs are a bit large or your pan is quite small (ie, the egg coverage is thick). Upend the crepe into a serving plate. Carry on and make the next crepe.
6. Once the crepes are done, grab half of the saucey noodles and lay them over the crepes, then lay over the vegetables, herbs, spring onion, chillies, chopped almonds and radish sprouts. Pour over any remaining sauce and serve immediately.
Party Time: You can make this as a party dish by preparing multiple crepes (make ahead if you like and gently reheat in a microwave or steamer until barely warm), overlapping them on a long platter and covering with an appropriately increased amount of toppings. These are good garnished with stir-fried firm tofu pieces. To make this more authentic, add some dried shrimps too.