Nuts for pad thai


STIR-FRY FEAST Pad thai is definitely worth all the chopping.

The Cabots

I’ve always loved peanuts. I absolutely loved the peanut sauces I tasted back in 1993 whilst visiting uncle Liam Gibbon in Nigeria. He worked at the Guinness brewery in Jos there. Great days, and free Guinness on tap every lunchtime at the brewery!
Five years later, I was trekking in the Himalayas and we decided at short notice to extend our time away with a visit to Thailand. There I tried pad thai for the first time. This Thai noodle dish using peanuts has always been really popular with us Irish – something I’m convinced to do with us being ‘Pad dees’!
As much as I love pad thai, would you believe it I had never cooked it myself? That all changed recently, when I heard Nevin Maguire on Lyric FM recently going through the dish.  I felt so hungry! Continuing the search for new, interesting dishes to make in these pandemic times, I sought out his recipe and gave it a go. Here it is!

Pad thai
This is a stir-fry dish. This means you prepare all the ingredients beforehand, so you have them ready to cook quickly in a hot wok or wide-bottomed pan.
The cooked noodles are tossed in at the end! It’s all about balancing the cooked noodles with great, fresh vegetables cooked quickly over a high heat. It’s not like boiling spuds.

What you need

  • 175g flat rice noodles
  • 100g roasted peanuts
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimps
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tsps dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsps rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsps muscovado sugar
  • 3 tbsps fish sauce
  • 2 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, chopped finely
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 2 tbsps coriander, roughly chopped
  • 200g beansprouts
  • 2 tbsps of groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 2 skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced (optional).

What you do
Cover the dry shrimps in a bowl with hot water and set aside. Grind or blend the peanuts to a rough mix with a mortar and pestle, or an electric blender, and set aside. Cook the noodles as per instructions. I like to run cold water over them when their cooked, before reheating with the mix in frying pan later.
Now tackle the intense flavours. Into a bowl, add the lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, rice vinegar and chillies, and stir well. Heat two tablespoons of groundnut oil in your wok or pan and cook your chicken pieces (if using) until browned, and set aside. Tip the beaten eggs into the oil, then when the egg is firming up, break it into little pieces with wooden spoon, then set aside.
Wipe your pan with kitchen roll and stir fry the shallots and garlic for two or three minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Drain the shrimps and add to the mix, stir and add the soy-sauce mixture, stirring for two minutes, until it has reduced somewhat.
Now add the cooked noodles, fresh beansprouts, the egg pieces and the chicken pieces, and toss the lot well over high heat. Serve in warmed bowls with ground peanuts on top, and a slice of lime to one side. Heaven!
What I did not like about this recipe: I did not enjoy the finickety shopping for all the intriguing components of this recipe, and I was not gone on having to follow detailed instructions of the cooking!
What I liked about this recipe: I loved the overall freshness of the spring onions and bean sprouts, and the dish’s punchy flavours and umami taste. A winning combination, and well worth the effort.

The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.