All photos by Susan Axelrod
Last night, I left work later than usual, worn out and hungry for something cozy and noodle-y. But not pasta. I could have stopped into one of Portland’s many excellent Asian restaurants, but I also need to hit the Hannaford and couldn’t face two stops on the way home.
The Portland Hannaford has an astonishing variety of Asian foods — noodles, sauces, spices — and I’ve been determined to use more of them (I find the frozen coconut pulp especially intriguing, but that’s a story for another day.) Remembering I had an open bag of rice noodles at home, I thought I’d make pad Thai.
Into my basket went a bag of bean sprouts, a handful of snap peas (not traditional but I wanted more green and crunch), a little jar of pad Thai sauce (I could have made my own but, remember, it was late) and a jar of lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts.
At home, I had everything else I needed: a stash of frozen Maine shrimp — carefully hoarded from Hannaford last fall when it was announced that the Maine shrimp season would be called off this winter — the slightly wilt-y remains of a bunch of cilantro, eggs, and a lime almost past its prime.
Was this pad Thai the best I’ve ever had? Not by a long shot. The jarred sauce, while plenty zippy, didn’t have as much deep flavor as the one I ususally make from scratch. I threw in a few shakes of soy sauce for some needed salt. A couple of good squeezes of lime helped it along, too.
But as I slumped bleary-eyed on the couch, forking it from the bowl on my lap into my mouth, it was just right.
Quick Pad Thai
Serves 1-2 (I had leftovers for lunch the next day.)
Handful of dried rice noodles
1-2 tablespoons mild oil (vegetable, light olive, safflower)
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup sugar snap peas, ends trimmed (optional)
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cooked shrimp (Maine, if like me, you have a stash in your freezer, or other small cooked shrimp)**
2 tablespoons pad Thai sauce
soy sauce (optional)
1/3 cup chopped lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons cilantro
Lime wedge, for serving
Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the noodles. Let sit for a few minutes until they are softened, but not mushy. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a saute pan. Add half the bean sprouts and snap peas, if using. Cook and stir for a few minutes until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
Add the egg to the pan, scraping and stirring until it is just cooked and broken into pieces.
Lower the heat, add the noodles, shrimp, pad Thai sauce, soy sauce if using. If the mixture seems too dry, add some water. Stir until everything is well mixed.
Transfer to a plate or bowl, top with the remaining bean sprouts, peanuts and cilantro. Squeeze lime over and eat.
** If you’d rather use raw shrimp, add it to the saute pan with the bean sprouts and snap peas and cook until just pink.