OK, what we really had for dinner was the last pickings of bison rotini, but I already told you about that. And W ate most of it, because we were still full from lunch; A came over and we sat out in folding chairs in the yard and drank cold pink fizzy wine and ate pad Thai, and that’s far more interesting.
I had promised to make it, and then when I went to soak my rice noodles I discovered I didn’t have any. I suppose my mission to deplete a seemingly bottomless stash of assorted pasta and noodles has been successful. We had fresh Asian noodles though, so I figured that was close enough.
Pad Thai is fast (if you get everything ready to go before you start), and a perfect way to use up leftover roasted chicken, tofu, or even pork, and if you keep a bag of shrimp in the freezer it’s easy to add a handful to dishes such as this. Tamarind concentrate and chili sauce can be found in the ethnic foods section of grocery stores or in Asian markets, and although not necessary are well worth seeking out – both will keep in the fridge for a long time, so don’t worry about buying a whole jar just to use a few spoonfuls.
1/2 – 1 lb. (250-500 g) package rice noodles, thin or thick
Sesame, peanut or canola oil, for cooking
1/4 cup tomato sauce or ketchup
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1/4 cup lime juice or 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2-4 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. chili sauce or sambal oelek (optional)
1 tsp. tamarind concentrate (optional)
1 cup chopped cooked chicken (optional)
1/2 lb. cooked or uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined (optional)
1 pkg. firm tofu, drained and diced (optional)
1-3 small red chilies (optional)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups bean sprouts
1/4 cup chopped peanuts or cashews, salted or unsalted
Lime wedges (optional)
Soak the rice noodles according to the package directions. Rinse them with cold water and drain well. Drizzle the noodles with a little oil to keep them from sticking, and toss to coat.
In a small bowl, stir together the tomato sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, chili sauce, and tamarind concentrate (if using).
Heat a good drizzle of oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the meat or shrimp if they’re uncooked (if your meat is cooked, set it aside for now), along with the tofu and the chilies if you’re using them. Cook for a few minutes, until the meat is cooked through or the tofu is golden. Push the mixture aside or remove it from the pan. If you are using shrimp, remove them from the pan so that they don’t overcook and become tough. Add the eggs and cook them as if you were making scrambled eggs, breaking them up with a spatula. Push them aside.
Add a little more oil if you need it and stir fry the garlic and green onions for about a minute. Add the noodles and cook, tossing them with tongs, for another minute. Return any reserved cooked meat to the pan, pour as much of the sauce as you want over it all, and cook for 2-3 minutes, tossing the mixture with tongs or a spatula to coat everything with sauce and heat it through. Add the bean sprouts at the very end as you toss everything together.
Serve immediately in large shallow bowls. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over top. Serves 4.
Yesterday we finished off Vij’s chicken curry and rice, but still had rice left over. When this happens and I’m not in the mood to make fried rice, I pour milk over it and bring it to a simmer with a bit of honey; the rice soaks up the milk and the starch thickens it and eventually I have a simple rice pudding. I was about to add some raw short grain rice to the pot, thinking that it could then be called risotto – so much fancier-sounding than rice pudding – and the thought reminded me of the barley risotto I made with mushrooms. Why not add some barley and make a rice and barley pudding? Which would sort of be a risotto? Hey wait, isn’t there a barley cereal with cream on the menu at Diner Deluxe? And isn’t it fabulous?
So I dumped, without measuring, some barley into the pot. Probably about half a cup, and then poured enough milk over to generously cover it. Rice puddings are easy to make this way – just cook until it soaks up the milk, add more, and so on. Sweeten with a little sugar, honey or maple syrup, and once it’s as thick as you want it to be, stir in a splash of vanilla.
The compote was my first jab at using up some of this rhubarb. A few stalks, chopped into a pot with a couple handfuls of strawberries, about a half cup of sugar (or to suit your taste) and a spoonful of orange juice concentrate straight from the freezer. Bring to a simmer and cook until it breaks down and resembles a sort of runny jam that isn’t as jammy-sweet as jam, but stands in for it just as well on bagels and toast, making either reminiscent of strawberry-rhubarb pie.