EAT THE WORLD: THAILAND

EAT THE WORLD: THAILAND

If there is any country that is guilty of starting me on the trail of permanent wanderlust it is Thailand. At the age of 14, my parents carted my sister and I off to Thailand with them. It was really the first time I had been anywhere that was truly foreign and exotic to me. Everything was different, and everything was mesmerizing. The buildings, the people, the food, the lifestyle, everything. We traveled to Bangkok where we shopped until 2 AM at one of the many night markets. I distinctly remember my dad's work client helping us figure out how to barter for a pair of "Diesel" slip on shoes. They were blue and most certainly a rip-off, but I loved them. We traveled to Chang Mai where we visited temples and rode an elephant. We traveled to Phuket, where I got my hair braided on the beach by a Thai lady. We went to the Phi Phi Islands and I got sea sick on the way there, missing out on the beautiful scenery - my dad took the pictures below by the way. We snorkeled for the first time, and ate delicious food. And of course, we shopped some more. And ate some more.

Thailand was not only the first time I was bitten by the travel bug, but it was also the first time I started to become a foodie. I loved and still love Thai food. The food in Thailand is amazing. While Thailand has many incredible, delicious dishes, Pad Thai has always been one of my favorites. It seemed fitting for this challenge of EAT THE WORLD then to make some Pad Thai, with our favorite ingredient - shrimp! (Seriously, have you noticed how often we've made shrimp?)

Pad Thai with Shrimp

So I used to cook Pad Thai in South Africa, all the time. I got the recipe from my favorite grocery store called Woolworths, and their TASTE magazine. I tried to look it up and noticed that the recipe had changed, so I opted for a recipe online that seemed more authentic. I even when to an Oriental Market for 90% of the ingredients, in my attempts to be make a more authentic Pad Thai. Of course, I over complicated things and made a mess of everything. Of course! 

We used the following recipe from The Woks of Life. However, we didn't follow all of their steps, as you can see if you follow the link. After trying to use the tamarind paste as specified, and nothing happening, and both the Traveling Ninja and I thinking "This is really weird" I took it out. It didn't melt or do whatever it was supposed to do in my wok, so I ended up picking the bits out. Ooops. We also decided to chuck the tofu. I don't particularly like Tofu, and once the TN had a good look at it, he decided he didn't either. So below, is the adapated version of the Pad Thai we made. 

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (1/2 lb) pad thai noodles (rice noodles)
  • 8 ounces (1/2 lb) peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 4 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 gloves of minced garlic (use directions on jar for how many teaspoons)
  • 1 cup chives
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts, washed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed (you can use a blender)
  • handful cilantro leaves

Directions

  1. Make sure the noodles are 10-12 inches long and then soak the noodles in warm water for 20 minutes. Drain in colander and set aside.
  2. Mix the sugar, fish sauce and water well and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your wok over high heat and sear the shrimp for 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
  4. Set the wok to medium heat and add another tablespoon of oil. Add the shallots, garlic and chives. 
  5. Turn up the heat to high and add the noodles. Combine all the ingredients and stir fry for 30 seconds. 
  6. Pour the sugar, fish sauce mixture and stir fry for 30 seconds
  7. Push the noodles to the side of the wok, add two tablespoons of oil and then crack the three eggs into the cleared space. Beat them into the wok. When the eggs are 60% done, fold them into the noodles. 
  8. Add the bean sprouts and stir fry at a high heat until everything is cooked (1-2 min). 
  9. Toss in the cooked shrimp.
  10. Serve with crushed peanuts, cilantro and condiments of spices and sugar. 

Movie Paring: Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

The Traveling Ninja obviously picked this one, despite my requests to watch The Beach or The Impossible, both movies filmed in Thailand. It is about a young kick-boxer who tries to reclaim a stolen sacred statue for his village. He travels to Bangkok, and becomes involved in a kickboxing fight ring and a syndicate. I cannot say I enjoyed this movie as much as I did our other films. However, I can definitely appreciate the talent and mastery that the actor, Petchtai Wongkamlao, displays in the film. The fight scenes are remarkable and really impressive, so if your a fan of anything like that, its definitely one to watch! 

The Traveling Ninja Verdict: 7.2/10 

So delicious I had to loosen my belt and Muay Thai to get to work on this one

The Traveling Ginger Verdict: 8/10

As per usual I found some way to stuff up this episode of EAT THE WORLD. Instead of sticking with my gut and just doing an average Pad Thai recipe I had to go for the authentic one and buy tofu and tamarind. I feel like the stress of trying to work out the tamarind brought down my feeling for this recipe! But, pad thai is DELICIOUS and has always been one of my firm favorites and go-to thai dishes. The noodles ended up looking a little mushy - probably because I spent too much time trying to get a good shot of them cooking! One of my favorite things about Thai food is the condiments, like sugar and crushed peanuts. Clearly I over-crushed the peanuts here, as you can see, but when you sprinkle this with some sugar, and mix in the cilantro leaves, the pad thai is to die for. I feel like it makes all the flavors pop and it really comes together and makes for an exciting delicious adventure for your tastebuds. The TN refused to try it with these condiments, and I really think he missed out! If you're going to give this recipe a try, definitely make it my way and sprinkle sugar and peanuts on top. Yummy yummy yummy.

Ok now I'm hungry again!

Have you been to Thailand? Tell me about it! Do you have any favorite Thai dishes? Let us know in the comments below!