Sunday, May 19, 2013
Pad Woon Sen with Shallots and Asparagus
My first introduction to Thai cuisine was with Pad Woon Sen in the Summer of 1998. I remember the time period because it was something that would change my life. There have been extended periods of time where I ate Thai food for 3 nights a week, or more. Every Thai restaurant that you come across is going to have their version of Pad See Ew. Which is a great introduction to Thai cooking and a delicious dish. Pad Woon Sen, on the other hand, is a little bit harder to find and in my mind which makes it more satisfying when you do. I was excited to make the dish with the Shallot and Asparagus inspiration. I did it a few weeks ago now. The difficult part was trying to come up with an introduction to Pad Woon Sen. Is there a way to make Thai cuisine interesting, or better yet entertaining? Pad Woon Sin? As in: it's sinfully good. I struggled with it. I asked around. I found that there's an even quicker way to end a conversation with a person than telling them you have a blog about asparagus. Ask them about how to write a funny narrative about asparagus in Pad Woon Sen. I just got looks of confusion that turned to irritability from most people. One person even told me that they were tired of listening to my asparagus musings and posed the ultimatum that it was either him or the asparagus. I think we all know how that turned out. So now I present to you Pad Woon Sen with Shallots and Asparagus!
1 bunch of bok choy
1/2 bunch of asparagus
1 large shallot
1 red bell pepper
1 lb of chicken
6-8 green onions
4 table spoons of fish sauce
mung bean noodles (glass noodles or bean threads)
I personally prefer to have everything chopped and ready when I'm cooking so when the time comes I'm not frantically trying to prep ingredients as they need to go into the pan. The French call this mise en place or "putting in place". Soak your noodles in cold water for at least 10 minutes before cooking. Cut them in half. It will make them easier to negotiate as you're stirring other ingredients in. Heat a large pan, or better yet if you have one, a Wok with cooking oil on medium to medium high heat. It's recommended to marinade your chicken in the fish sauce, but I didn't do that. Add your chicken to the hot pan. This is a quick dish that can get away from you if aren't mindful. When the chicken is cooked add in your mung bean noodles. When the noodles are clear that means they're done. As both the chicken and the noodles are getting to look like the picture below, you should begin to integrate your vegetables and eggs in. The shallots, asparagus, and bell pepper should go in first. Those will take longer to cook than the green onions or the bok choy. Use the chicken broth to keep everything moist. The fish sauce acts as the salt for this dish so add to taste. Generally it's about 4 tablespoons. When it looks beautiful, it's ready to eat. Enjoy!