Let's have a pad thai party!
Invite your friends. Friends who don't mind when you take pictures of them shoving noodles in their face. (We missed you, Kara!)
Or, invite friends that you're trying to get to know better. This is going to be an interactive dinner party, so when people arrive, you're going to ask them to chop some peanuts or stir the shrimp, or taste the sauce. It removes any initial dinner-party-awkardness and they'll have fun.
There are a lot of moving parts here, but that's ok because you have help. Have a drink while you stir the tofu and talk about the noodle variations that you love.
This is the kind of dinner party that will please anyone. The rice noodles are tossed with savory pad thai sauce, eggs, garlic, and green onions. Everything else is cooked and plated separately. We sautéed shrimp, tofu, broccoli & red pepper and prepared easy pickled radishes, bean sprouts, cilantro, chopped roasted peanuts, lime wedges and red chili sauce for toppings.
Your guests will be so pumped when they learn they get to make their own pad thai party combinations.
(I'm actually not hazing my sister by posting this photo on the internet. She specifically requested it.)
I'm telling you, everyone will go crazy for these noodles.
This is the good stuff.
I've been in a bit of a funk lately with my food photos. The sun shines so infrequently in the winter and nothing seems to turn out as beautifully as I'd like it to, but I think what's really missing in my food photos is people. A professional food photo may be flawless and stunning and artistic, but it's shot in a light box with reflector boards and a flash and lots of equipment. A real food photo features real people enjoying real food.
I'm trying to remember this when I slip into the tendency to compare my food photos to others, or to compare my life to the "perfect" images I see while scrolling through instagram. Images may be beautiful and powerful, but they don't necessarily equal a beautiful life.
A beautiful life is one filled with people that you care about. Throwing a pad thai party for your people might be a good place to start.
Pad Thai Party:
10 ounces wide rice noodles
4-5 tablespoons peanut oil
12 ounces frozen (or fresh) shrimp
1/2 pound extra firm tofu
1 head of broccoli, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 red pepper, shredded
4 tablespoons tamarind paste*
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 green onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
handful fresh cilantro
red chili sauce
Prepare rice noodles according to package directions. Most types will require soaking the noodles in hot water for 10-25 minutes. Drain as soon as noodles are starting to soften.
Add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil to a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until pink and lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside to keep warm. (We covered the finished bowls with aluminum foil and kept them in the microwave.)
Add another tablespoon or two of peanut oil to the pan, followed by the tofu. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside to keep warm.
If needed, add a little more peanut oil, followed by the broccoli and red pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until broccoli reaches your desired texture. Remove from pan and set aside to keep warm.
In a small saucepan, combine tamarind paste, fish sauce, honey and rice vinegar. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, add another tablespoon of peanut oil to the saucepan. Add green onions and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, then crack the eggs into the pan and stir around until just cooked. Add noodles and sauce to the pan. Stir to combine and cook for another couple minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Set out the noodles, along with the tofu, shrimp, vegetables and other toppings. Dig in!
*I had a difficult time finding tamarind paste. Your regular grocery store may have it, but if not, try a specialty grocery store or asian market. Tamarind provides a sour flavor. In a pinch, substitute with a mixture of equal parts lime juice and brown sugar.
**To make the pickled radishes, add radishes to a couple tablespoons rice vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Set aside for thirty minutes.
- These recipe directions are for a pad thai party, with most of the components made and served separately. However, if you're just cooking for your family or non-picky eaters, you can cook the tofu, shrimp, and veggies together.
- This recipe is gluten-free, so long as your fish-sauce is gluten-free. Check the label.
Inspired by Mark Bittman and Bon Appetit.