Daily Archives: March 5, 2007

Phad Thai Noodles

I wish pad thai wasn’t so likeable. Its popularity crested like a bad fad, but unlike Hypercolor shirts, I still love it every time. Why should I be embarrassed to order it at a Thai restaurant, then? Somehow I can’t. I feel the server’s judgmental eyes searing through my skull, wondering if I’m a real eater. Ordering pad thai seems like the ultimate cop-out, like I’m a kid again and there’s only one thing on the entire menu that sounds even remotely appealing. Like if I ordered it, I’d have to explain myself.

A lingering pad thai craving steered me toward these noodles. There’s nothing particularly Thai about them (they’re made with spaghetti and cashew butter, for goodness’ sake). In fact, with lime, cilantro, and fish sauce, they’re more Vietnamese than anything (but please don’t call this Vietnamese food). My husband dubbed them phad thai, pronounced like “fad” to make fun of how much I love noodles in anything nutty, and it stuck.

Most importantly, they’re delicious. With plenty of deep cashew flavor and a little heat, they have what it takes to cure my pad thai craving when I don’t have the ingredients for pad thai or the guts to order it in.

Phad Thai Noodles 1

Recipe for Phad Thai Noodles
Recipe 64 of 365

Feel free to substitute cooked shrimp for the chicken. And make plenty – they’re delicious the next day straight out of the fridge.

TIME: 35 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings

2 large chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup cashew butter
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup chopped scallions (green and white parts)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus limes for garnish, if desired
1 – 3 teaspoons sriracha, Chinese chili paste, or other hot sauce
1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 pound dried spaghetti
1/2 cup whole roasted cashews, chopped

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. When the pan is hot, add the oil, then add the chicken and cook 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred the meat. Cover with foil to keep warm.

While the chicken is cooking, combine the cashew butter and the boiling water in a large mixing bowl. Allow the water to melt and soften the cashew butter for about 5 minutes, then use a fork to stir the two together until the mixture is smooth. Stir the scallions, ginger, soy, brown sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, hot sauce (to taste), and cilantro into the cashew butter to make a sauce, and set aside.

Salt the pasta water, and cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Place the pot over low heat, add the cashew sauce and shredded chicken, and toss with tongs until well combined and the sauce is warmed through. Stir in the cashews, and serve warm, garnished with lime wedges, if desired.

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Filed under chicken, Pasta, recipe, Thai, vietnamese

Please stop by again

The house I grew up in had a strict open-door policy. It was not uncommon to come home from wherever to find my friend Sari, whose mother took the same laissez-faire approach mine did to hosting guests, hanging out in front of the television, munching on a bowl of cereal while she waited for me to get there. But it wasn’t just her – even friends who came from homes that followed more common formalities learned that knocking and entering (without waiting for an answer) and grabbing a glass of orange juice without asking was acceptable at our house.

Yesterday, my friend Katie stopped by on her way home from a yoga class. She called from the curb to let us know she was here. I was thrilled when she traipsed into the house with a bag full of clean clothes; she accepted my offer for a shower and proceeded to fold herself right into our afternoon. We planted and talked and drank coffee and ate leftover carrot salad.

I’m always conscious of how quickly I make myself at home in other people’s houses. I have a strange innate knack for kitchen organization; I can usually find what I need on the first try. But sometimes I have to consciously tell myself that in most homes, people ask for a glass of water rather than just getting up to find one. It’s a tricky balance.

Katie left just as she’d come, without announcement or drama, when we decided we needed to get to the hardware store before it closed. And as we waved quick good-byes, it occurred to me that we’d had our first open-door visitor. It pleased me enormously.

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