Homemade Chicken Pad Thai

I have this problem where I pretty much always want to be on vacation.  Not just at home with time off, but I want to be in a foreign country walking around and trying all the foods.

But that’s probably true for everyone, right?

I’ve been lucky enough to visit my fair share of countries.   Since we’ve been togetherJesse and I have made it a point to go on a trip once a year. We went to China, Peru and Thailand/Cambodia (along with Mexico and Guatemala, do those count if we were visiting family?).  Our 4th year together is looking to be a vacation-less one, since there’s a major expense coming up next year: wedding.

In both Peru and Thailand, we took cooking classes, which has become one of my favorite things to do on vacation.

In Thailand, there are tons of cooking classes.  We went with the Thai Farm Cooking School in Chiang Mai, because some friends (they have an awesome travel blog!) we met while hiking to Machu Picchu had done it and recommended it.

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It was definitely worth it.  Now that it’s been about 7 months since our vacation, Jesse and I had an itch to make some of the recipes in the cookbook we were given.   So we hit up a local Asian market that I learned about at my new job (yay for supporting small business!), gathered all our ingredients and made this:

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Isn’t pad thai everyone’s favorite?  It’s also pretty easy to make too!  We added chicken to it to make it more of a complete meal, but you can also omit the chicken (or the tofu) if you’d like.

Here’s what you’ll need to serve 2 or 3…

Chicken Pad Thai

80g rice noodles
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
1/2 cup sliced tofu (optional)
1 piece of chicken breast, sliced
2 shallots, chopped
1 egg
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 cup of mung bean sprouts
2 tsp tamarind paste (or white vinegar)
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar (or palm sugar if you have it)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/3 cup water
1 tsp molasses
Pinch of chili powder (or a squirt of sriracha)
Salt to taste

1 tbsp green onion (green part only)
Chopped peanuts and lime for serving

Soak noodles in warm water for 30 minutes until soft.  In the meantime, prepare your sauce.  In a bowl combine water, fish sauce, brown sugar, tamarind paste and molasses.   (Note: Here I found a tamarind paste that was basically the whole tamarind, so I had to blend it but in Thailand I used a paste that dissolved.  If you blend, just be sure there are no tamarind seeds in there).  Set aside sauce.

pad thai ingredients

Heat oil in a wok (or large pan if you don’t have a wok like me), until it starts to smoke.  Add chicken, shallots and tofu.  Toss until chicken is cooked and tofu is crispy.  Move the chicken, shallots and tofu to one side of the pan.  On the other side of the pan, scramble the egg.  Once scrambled, toss them all together and add the noodles, carrots, bean sprouts and sauce.  Mix until the noodles are cooked and all is well combined.  Try a noodle and see if you think it needs salt.  Salt as needed.

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Serve with chopped peanuts and a wedge of lime.

Jesse and I devoured this yesterday.  I’m almost a little bit embarrassed to tell you how much we ate.  Ok not really.  We doubled this and ate about 3/4 of it.  Enough said.

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We also discovered that we seriously want a wok.  We made it in a dutch oven pot, which was fine but I think it would have turned out better (texture wise) in a wok.   But it still turned out great.

Since we bought a ton of basic ingredients we’ll likely be making tons of Thai recipes this week.  I can’t complain about that.

What foreign food do you want to learn how to make?

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Thailand… or Where I Want Everyone to Go on Vacation

Hi friends! I’ve been away for a while, but here I am.  As you might know, I went on vacation to Thailand (and Cambodia!) for 2 and a half weeks.  It was fantastic!  I pretty much want everyone to go Thailand for vacation.

We went to four major places:

1. Bangkok
2. Chiang Mai
3. Siem Reap, Cambodia
4. Krabi  <– my fav!

So let me tell you all the reasons I loved Thailand and Cambodia (I keep forgetting I went to Cambodia too!).

1. Elephants!

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There are a ton of different elephant adventures you can do in Thailand.  We tried to do one that was as humane as possible.  We went to the Elephant Retirement Park near Chiang Mai.  It’s a place where elephants “retire” from tourism and labor.  Riding can be harmful to elephants so instead, we got to play with, feed and take a mud bath with the elephants.

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Obviously, hanging out with elephants isn’t something you do everyday.  Definitely an awesome experience.

2.  The Food.

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You knew this was coming, right?  Everything I ate in Thailand was amazing.  Seriously.  I don’t think I ate a single thing I didn’t like.    We mostly ate at street stalls, because they were everywhere and cheaper than full on restaurants.  Most meals would cost $1-2 (about 40-60 thai bhat).   Tables always had a variety of condiments so you could add things to your dish: Sugar, Fish Sauce, Ground Chili, and Pickled sweet peppers (I was a fan of those).

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One thing I ate probably on a daily basis was morning glory.  I have no idea what morning glory is (other than clearly some type of green), but I’m a fan.

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Here was one time I got it in Chiang Mai.  Spicy stir fried morning glory with chicken, served on rice.

Another favorite: stewed pork belly on rice.

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I had this one in Bangkok on the last day.  OMG.  Amazing.  I wish I could have it again.  I know it doesn’t look fancy, but it was the best thing I ate in Bangkok.

Another winner in Thailand: Beverages.  I loved the iced coffee (they put sweetened condensed milk in it, you can’t lose) and the fruit shakes.

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I had a fruit shake and a coconut probably everyday.  All sorts of amazing.

Overall, what I loved about the food was how fresh it was.  Everything you ordered was freshly made with actual fresh foods.  Coming back home was tough on that front.

3. The Temples and Palaces.

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Absolutely Beautiful! The detail is amazing.  I wish we had seen more, but two weeks wasn’t enough.

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4.  Angkor Ruins

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Not in Thailand, actually in Cambodia and technically also temples and palaces, but so impressive they deserve their own category.  I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of amazing things in my life: Mayan Pyramids, Great Wall of China, Terra Cotta Army, Machu Picchu… All of these things were fantastic in their own way… but Angkor Wat and the other Angkor ruins are amazing just based on sheer size and detail.

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Seeing Angkor Wat at sunrise is totally worth it.  Part of me wanted to not take pictures and just enjoy it, because the pictures don’t do it justice.  But I took pictures…

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Also note: People aren’t lying when they say it’s hot in Cambodia.  It’s hot.  Really hot.

5. The Beaches

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Oh the beaches.  I live about a mile from the beach in California, but it’s not the same.  The beach in Thailand is amazing.  As someone who is not a big fan of the beach, I loved the beach in Thailand.

I wish we had more time at the beach, only 4 days, but that was enough time to relax… and get engaged…

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And get a tan…

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And play with monkeys on the way to dinner…

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and drink plenty of coconuts!

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Like I said, I looooooved Thailand.  I would go back in a heartbeat (I think I could definitely use more time at the beach).  I pretty much want everyone to go… you should!

Coming next… While I was in Chiang Mai, I took a cooking class so I have some Thai recipes to share with you soon.

What’s the best place you’ve been on vacation? For me Thailand was awesome! I also love Italy, but who doesn’t?