Difficulty: Medium - some experience needed
4 teaspoons fish sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground dried chili pepper
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon tamarind
1/2 package Thai rice noodles
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons peanuts Optional
1/2-1/4 lb shrimp Optional
1/3 cup tofu - extra firm Optional
1-1/2 cup Chinese chives - green Optional
1-1/3 cup bean sprouts Optional
1 tablespoon preserved turnip Optional
Soak the dry noodles in lukewarm water while preparing the other ingredients, for 5-10 minutes. Julienne tofu and cut into 1 inch long matchsticks. When cut, the extra firm tofu should have a mozzarella cheese consistency. Cut up Chinese chives into 1 inch long pieces. Set aside a few fresh chives for a garnish. Rinse the bean sprouts and save half for serving fresh. Mince shallot and garlic together.
Use a wok. If you do not have a wok, any big pot will do. Heat it up on high heat and pour oil in the wok. Fry the peanuts until toasted and remove them from the wok. Add shallot, garlic and tofu and stir them until they start to brown. The noodles should be flexible but not expanded at this point. Drain the noodles and add to the wok. Stir quickly to keep things from sticking. Add tamarind, sugar, fish sauce, chili pepper and preserved turnip. Stir. The heat should remain high. If your wok is not hot enough, you will see a lot of juice in the wok at this point. Turn up the heat, if it is the case. Make room for the egg by pushing all noodles to the side of the wok. Crack the egg onto the wok and scramble it until it is almost all cooked. Fold the egg into the noodles. Add shrimp and stir. Add bean sprouts, chives. Stir a few more times. The noodles should be soft and very tangled.
Pour onto the serving plate and sprinkle with peanuts. Serve hot with the banana flower slice and a wedge of lime on the side and raw Chinese chives and raw bean sprouts on top.
As always, in Thailand, condiments such as sugar, chili pepper, vinegar and fish sauce are available at your table for your personal taste. Some people add more pepper or sugar at this point.
Tips and substitutions
By far, the trickiest part is the soaked noodles. Noodles should be somewhat flexible and solid, not completely expanded and soft. When in doubt, undersoak. You can always add more water in the pan, but you can't take it out.
Shrimp can be substituted or omitted.
In this recipe, pre-ground pepper, particularly pre-ground white pepper is better than fresh ground pepper. For kids, omit the gound dried chilli pepper.
Tamarind adds some flavor and acidity, but you can substitute white vinegar.
The type of extra firm tofu called for this recipe can be found at most oriental groceries in a plastic bag, not in water. Some might be brown from soy sauce, but some white ones are also available. Pick whatever you like