Monday, September 26, 2011

Pad Thai with Arrowhead Cabbage

The past couple of Sundays, Sweetwater Farm at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market has had a bounty of cabbages, including that charming arrowhead cabbage in front, a character straight out of The Point

I used this fellow, along with Sweetwater's fresh peppers, Songbird Farm's carrots and leeks, and SLO Farm's garlic, to whip up Mark Bittman's pad Thai recipe (I highly recommend the accompanying video that is truly empowering for anyone with linger reservations about cooking this dish).

As Bittman advises, you want to get all your components prepped before you start stir frying. Here I shredded the carrots for quick cooking, using a great little peeler that my mother-in-law brought me back from Thailand. This combination of vegetables -- the mild and tender arrowhead, the sweet leeks, and the colorful carrots and peppers -- created an especially delicious version of this dish. We had neither cilantro nor lime in the house, but torn basil and a squeeze of lemon did the trick. 

Pad Thai with Arrowhead Cabbage
adapted from Mark Bittman

7 ounces wide rice stick noodles
I small head cabbage, such as arrowhead
2 small sweet peppers or 1 bell pepper
1 carrot
1 leek
1 clove garlic
2 eggs
1/3 lb shrimp or 1/2 lb cubed extra firm tofu (or omit and use another egg)
neutral oil such as grape seed

for the sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp tamarind paste
3 Tbsp honey
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

for garnish
roasted peanuts
chopped cilantro or basil leaves
lime (or lemon in a pinch)
hot sauce such as Sriracha

1. Soak the rice stick noodles in a bowl with boiling water for about 20 minutes until soft but not mushy. Drain and toss with a little oil to prevent the noodles from sticking.

2. Remove any torn outer leaves of the cabbage and chop fairly finely. Slit the white part of the leek lengthwise and wash very well to remove dirt between the layers. Cut into 1/4 inch slices. Shred or julienne the carrot and cut the peppers into match sticks.

3. Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside. Mince the garlic.

4. Heat a large skillet that will be able to hold all of the ingredients. When hot, add approximately 3 Tbsp oil. If using tofu, add it now and let it brown without stirring it too much. When most cubes are seared on several sides, remove to a plate and add more oil if necessary. Then add the garlic and cook it for a minute. Crack the eggs into the pan and mix around to make some loose scrambled eggs. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring, for a few minutes over high heat. Add the leeks and cook for a couple minutes, stirring. Add the remaining vegetables and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring. Add back the tofu and the shrimp, if using, and once they are pink, add the noodles and the sauce. Toss together and cook for a minute until the noodles are hot. Remove from heat.

5. Serve the pad Thai topped with peanuts and fresh herbs and a squeeze of lime juice. Serves four.

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