Saturday, July 9, 2016

Crimson Carrot Pad Thai

For the last day of the Olympic Track and Field Trials, the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market will again be in front of the bike store next to Sweet Life along 19th Ave. Stop by for fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm and beautiful flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company.

Last week, Camas Swale Farm had an eye catching selection of crimson carrots and arrowhead cabbages, perfect for a pan of Mark Bittman's pad Thai. You can use any combination of cabbage, root vegetables, peppers, leeks, and scallions for pad Thai, and lots of different proteins. This time I made the dish with baked tofu brushed with a bit of the pad Thai fish sauce, which gave it a firm bite and made the dish especially satisfying. And the purple carrots added a dramatic, colorful flare. 

Pad Thai with Arrowhead Cabbage
adapted from Mark Bittman, serves four
1 package extra firm tofu
7 ounces wide rice stick noodles
I small or 1/2 large head cabbage, such as arrowhead
3 carrots
1 bunch scallions
1 clove garlic
2 eggs
neutral oil such as canola

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

for garnish
roasted peanuts
cilantro leaves
lime (or lemon in a pinch)
sliced cucumbers
hot sauce such as sambal oelek

1. If you have a chance, slice the tofu into 1/2 inch slices, freeze, and thaw. This will remove the excess moisture (I keep a package of sliced tofu in the freezer at all times). Otherwise, slice the tofu and press to drain. 

2. Mix together the fish sauce, tamarind paste, and honey for the sauce. Use a little of this mixture to brush on the tofu slices. Bake the tofu in a 400 degrees oven (a toaster oven works well for this) for about 25 minutes, flipping once during the process. When the tofu is firm and slightly browned, transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

3. While the tofu is baking, 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.

4. Prepare the vegetables. Remove any torn outer leaves of the cabbage, cut into quarters lengthwise, cut out the core, and chop into 1/4 inch strips. Rinse and slice the carrots into thin ovals. Rinse and slice the scallions into 1/4 inch rings. Mince the garlic.

3. Finish the sauce by stirring in the vinegar and red pepper flakes. Whisk two eggs in a bowl.

4. Once you have all your ingredients prepared and in easy reach, start cooking the pad thai. Over high heat, place a large wok or skillet that will be able to hold all of the ingredients. When hot, add approximately 3 Tbsp oil. Add the carrots and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and scallions and cook one more minute, stirring. Add the cabbage and cook until it is seared and softened. Toss in the baked tofu cubes and stir for one more minute. Push the contents to the side of the pan and pour in the beaten eggs. Allow to set slightly and then flip and toss into the stir fry. Now add the drained noodles and pour over 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, cilantro, cucumber slices, a squeeze of lime juice, and your favorite hot sauce.

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