Pad Thai and I have a special relationship. I love it, and yet, I cannot make it. I crave it constantly, and yet, the best pad Thai ever comes from Citrus Club. Never from my kitchen. We’ve tried, my little kitchen and I. My poor book club has suffered through my mediocre pad Thai efforts, as has my boyfriend. Finally, I gave up. And then I found this recipe, on Twin Tables, and my desire to attempt was reignited, not so much because I really wanted to get good at pad Thai (underachiever alert!) but because I was hungry and that peanut sauce sounded dang delicious.
My only problem – other than a history of bad pad Thai making – was that I lacked some crucial ingredients. Namely, peanut butter. And siracha. And sesame oil. So, like, several key ingredients. Yet, I attempted it anyway, because this is what hunger coupled with a lack of appropriate apprehension will do for you: make you so emboldened in the kitchen that you will throw things together in your food processor and blithely believe that it will all work out.
In this case, it actually did.
Instead of peanut butter, I used almond butter, which gave the sauce a sweeter, smoother taste. Not everyone would cotton to this substitution, but I loved it, and will only make peanut sauce with almond butter now. Also, I will always still refer to it as “peanut sauce” though it is clearly not. Mystifying.
My other key substitution was to use red chile powder in place of siracha. I love the kick of chile powder, which sneaks up on you, versus siracha which you can smell from a mile away and infuses everything it touches. It’s like the difference between being jumped in an alley late at night versus walking into a fight Sharks and Jets style, where you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Personally, I prefer the element of surprise that chile powder brings to the back alley. Also, I didn’t have any siracha.
So, with all of these things in mind, you are thusly thinking that this recipe will be for pad Thai, since that’s what it says up top. Nay, friends. This recipe is for something else. Something akin to noodles and peanut sauce, and yet, it’s not peanut sauce (see above). It’s definitely not pad Thai (again, sorry) but it is most definitely delicious. You should make it. It’s a bit of an effort, but not without reward. That reward being, of course, that you get to shove this whole mess into your mouth as quickly as your little heart desires.
NOT PEANUT SAUCE WITH NOODLES, AKA, A DISH THAT IS VAGUELY ASIAN
. 1/2 cup of almond butter
. 1/2 cup of soy sauce
. 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
. 1/4 cup of honey
. 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
. 1 tablespoon of red chile powder
. 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger
. 1 lime, juiced
Noodles and Protein
. 1-2 chicken breasts OR 1 cup of peeled shrimp, or any protein you’d like
. 1 packet of wide rice noodles (I used Annie Chun’s)
. 1/2 cup carrots, cut in matchsticks
. 1/4 cup scallions
. 1/2 cup roasted peanuts and a small bunch of cilantro, for garnish
1. Cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions.
2. While noodles are cooking, grate ginger, chop carrots, and measure out sauce ingredients. Put all the sauce ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth. It will froth slightly, and that’s good.
3. In a well-oiled skillet, cook your protein to your desired level of doneness. I lightly pan seared chicken with a bit of salt and pepp.
4. Once your protein has finished, add cooked noodles, carrots, scallions and then pour as much sauce as you’d like over the top, reserving 1/4 cup for serving. As soon as the noodles and carrots start to glaze and get that nice crunch on the outside, you’re done!
4. Pour remaining sauce over noodle bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro and peanuts over the top. If you don’t have cilantro (because guess who didn’t? That’s right) fresh basil also tastes great.