“I’ll make you Pad Thai Noodles with Tamarind Sauce,” my son declared when my family was planning what to do for Mother’s day. I asked my son, Toby, where he learned to make the dish when he looked at me in amazement and amused, said “Mom, you taught me how to make the dish!”
Of course, I said to myself. How did I forget this important part of my children’s lives? The only way my sons knew how to cook was because I taught them how, early on in their childhood. Cooking was never a chore in our household. It was always regarded as a prelude to something more enjoyable – family meals.
When my sons were little, I brought them with me everywhere – including the grocery and markets. To keep them from being unruly, I occupied their minds with math and reading. I taught them to read labels, do fractions with recipe ingredients. In the kitchen, they learned kitchen prep by helping me put away vegetables in the bin or else washed and cleaned the stems, leaves and greens. I encouraged them to cook their favorite dishes and desserts. And no matter how lopsided the dish they prepared looked like, there was generous praise all around the dinner table for a job well done.
It’s no wonder that by the time my boys went off to college and grew up, they already knew their way around the kitchen. It was a big relief for me, as a mom, to not worry whether they were eating right while away in school. I knew that no matter what, my boys would survive because they knew how to cook. Today, they can cook anything they set their minds to.
Just look at this Pad Thai dish. By the time Toby was done cooking this, the flavorful aroma of the sweet and salty tamarind-fish sauce base blended well with the huge portions of shrimps, chicken, mung beans, vegetables and rice noodles.
“Dinner’s ready!” yelled my sons to me, as they arranged the big Pad Thai platter on the table. Nothing else sounded sweeter, especially when I knew they just cooked a dish I taught them many years ago.
Pad Thai Noodles with Tamarind Sauce
- Large Skillet or Wok: 12 inches in diameter
- 4 to 6 ounces boneless chicken breast
- 1 whole medium sized white or yellow onion sliced
- 1 1/2 cups water to boil chicken
- 1 teaspoon salt for boiling chicken
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper for boiling chicken
- 1/4 pound fresh large shrimps peeled, heads and tails removed
- 6 to 8 ounces ginger ale or 7-Up soda to boil shrimps
- 1/2 cup solid tamarind (from a block) softened at room temperature
- 1/3 cup patis (fish sauce)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 cup warm water to mix the tamarind
- 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 whole onion chopped
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 2 whole eggs beaten
- 2 cups togue (mung bean sprouts)
- 8 to 10 ounces dried rice noodles for Pad Thai
- 1 cup chicken broth divided into half to add gradually (from pre-boiling chicken)
- 1 cup pineapple chunks fresh or canned (drain liquid)
- 1 whole lemon use lemon juice - about 1 Tablespoon
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts chopped
- 2 sta;ls scallion greens for garnish
- 1/2 cup fresh ripe mango cubes cubed into 1/2-inch pieces, for garnish
- To prepare chicken: Pre- boil the chicken by boiling chicken breast in a small pot with enough water to cover meat. Add half an onion, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook till chicken softens for about 35 minutes for this amount. When cooked, cut the chicken into small cubes, about ½ inch in size. Set aside.
- To prepare shrimps: Pre-boil the shrimps with the shell and tails in a small pot filled with ginger ale or 7-Up soda. Have enough liquid to cover the shrimps. Cover and let the liquid boil in about 5 minutes, then lower heat to a medium. Cook shrimps for 5 minutes more or till it turns orange in color. When cooked, drain liquid. Peel and devein shrimps, removing the shell, head and tails. Set aside.
- To saute: In a small saucepan, combine the tamarind concentrate, the fish sauce (patis) and brown sugar. Add the warm water to soften the tamarind. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan, and over medium heat cook till it boils in about 5 minutes. Blend mixture well and turn off heat. Set aside.
- In a large skillet or wok, over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil. Saute the garlic, onions, celery, carrots. Add the shrimps, chicken and mung beans (togue).
- Add the tamarind-fish sauce blend to the sautéed mixture. Blend ingredients well for 1 to 2 minutes.
- In the skillet, move the sautéed ingredients to the sides, leaving a large empty space in the center. Add the beaten egg to the center of the skillet. Scramble and cook the egg for 1 to 2 minutes. When egg is cooked, cut it up into 1-inch sized squares with the cooking spoon. Mix in the egg with the rest of the ingredients.
- Add half of the broth first to the skillet. Then add the dried rice noodles. Mix everything well, incorporating ingredients for 3 to 5 minutes or till noodles cook and soften. Add the rest of the broth to moisten and soften noodles. Slowly mix all the ingredients in the skillet, being careful not to mash the shrimps.
- Sprinkle the juice of a lime all over the noodles and ingredients. Garnish the top with pineapple chunks, peanuts and scallions. Optional garnish : a few chunks of fresh ripe mango.
- Cook’s comments: I buy a whole block of tamarind concentrate (16 oz./454 g) from the Asian grocery. I use a few inches (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) from the solid block for cooking. For unused tamarind, store in a plastic, sealed bag and keep refrigerated.
- Recipe Notes: It's best to use fresh shrimps purchased the same day of cooking for this type of dish. The freshness of the seafood affects the general outcome of flavors of this Pad Thai or any dish for that matter.
- Photography by: Constante G. Quirino
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe?I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. I also have more classic recipes inspired by my mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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