Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bittman's Pad Thai

I've never made a homemade pad thai that made me as happy as a truly good restaurant one, so every time I make it, I "audition" a different recipe. I started out with this recipe from Serious Eats, but the amount of liquid in the sauce gave me pause. A quick look at the comments confirmed that something was off there, and suggested the pad thai recipe on Bittman's own site instead. I loved the idea of the shredded cabbage from the first one, so I constructed a mash-up of the two, basically following Bittman's original recipe but adding the shredded cabbage from the Serious Eats one in step three (with the bean sprouts... which I had forgotten to buy). I also omitted the proteins, because I wasn't in the mood for tofu and didn't have any shrimp. Pad thai's all about the noodles for me, anyway.

It was... okay. Better than a made-with-ketchup restaurant version by far, but also far short of awesomeness. I think part of the problem was that, at basically the last minute after everything was done cooking, I panicked about the lack of any "sour" flavor and threw in some lime juice. The extra liquid + cooking time may have been a mistake - after all, I *could* just have added a squirt or two of lime juice at the table. Even after the lime juice, I ended up adding some rice vinegar while I was eating, because it just didn't have the right "tang". Victor and I both thought it needed more sweetness as well. In general, I felt like it was missing that perfect balance of sweet-sour-salty that pretty much defines Thai food for me.

The search continues.


  1. I never am satisfied with made-at-home pad thai - always something missing, like you say. I keep looking, though, like you.

    1. Please let me know if you find something that really works! (not quite the holy grail, but close!)