I find Thai food so fragrant and satisfying. I have personally never been to Thailand, but have a younger brother who has been living there for eight years. I am fortunate to have a shelf full of Thai spices he has brought me over the years, as well as cookbooks with recipes we use both at home and at work.
The running joke between my brother and I is that Canadians cannot handle the “heat” in most authentic recipes — those Thai love their chilli!
I tone down a lot of these recipes as our taste buds just are not prepared for that hit of spice… it’s easier to add heat than take it out!
Thai cooking is inspired by Chinese, Muslim and European influences. Everything from migration of cultures to the spice trade has helped evolve this food style into what it is today.
Regardless of what the Thai are cooking, the ingredients are always fresh and seasonal. Here, we are lucky to get most ingredients any time of the year. The following recipe is not only one of the most famous Thai dishes, but also one of the easiest and most delicious!
This Pad Thai recipe showcases the classic Thai harmony of sweet, sour, spice and salt with plenty of sweet veggies, fresh lime juice, chili spices and roasted peanuts. For a vegetarian version, simply omit the shrimp and replace fish sauce with soy sauce. Makes six servings. Visit canadianliving.com/food/scaling_recipes_up_or_down.php to adjust the serving size.
• 6 oz (170 g) rice stick noodles
• 1/3 cup (75 ml) chili sauce
• 1/4 cup (60 ml) fish sauce
• 1/4 cup (60 ml) lime juice
• 1 tsp (5 ml) Asian chili paste or hot pepper sauce
• 2 tbsp (30 ml) vegetable oil
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 4 shallots, sliced
• 1 sweet green pepper, sliced
• 1 red pepper, sliced
• 12 oz (340 g) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 4 oz (113 g) medium tofu, cubed
• 2 cups (500 ml) bean sprouts
• 6 green onions, sliced
• 1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped fresh coriander
• 1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped roasted peanuts
• Coriander sprigs and lime wedges
• In a large bowl, soak noodles in warm water until flexible, about 15 minutes. Drain and place in large dry bowl. Set aside.
• Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together chili sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, 1/2 cup (125 mL) water and chili paste. Set aside.
• In a wok, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil over medium-high heat. Stir-fry garlic, shallots and green and red peppers until softened, about four minutes. Add to noodles.
• Add remaining oil to wok. Stir-fry shrimp until pink, about two minutes. Add fish sauce mixture and bring to boil; reduce heat to medium. Stir in egg; cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened, about one minute.
• Add noodle mixture, tofu, bean sprouts, green onions and chopped coriander. Toss and stir-fry until noodles are tender, about three minutes. Garnish with peanuts, coriander sprigs and lime wedges.
Lara McCormack is one of the owners of From Scratch — A Mountain Kitchen in Fairmont Hot Springs where one can savor great seasonal food, sip from a selection of beverages including B.C. wines and enjoy