An easy pre-Christmas pad Thai for the chronically disorganised

I have my Twiglets and my Mini Cheddars. I have stocked up on Roka Cheese Crispies and some delectable smoked duck. I even have a large tin of Quality Street. However, I seem to have missed the Wine Society’s Christmas deadline, I have yet to buy any proper food and my present shopping is way overdue. I am, then, ready for a Christmas full of snacks and bad chocolate, but not much else.

However, this evening, although I ignored all the Christmas organising and tidying that I was supposed to be doing, I did discover why I really love Bill Granger’s work. Because in the space of an hour I learnt how to shop for and cook pad Thai and feel confident enough to do it again for others. It is not, as I have always thought, a complex and long-winded dish to make (so don’t be put off by the ‘how to’ below). In fact, apart from a bit of judicious shopping and chopping, it takes about ten minutes from beginning to end and if, unlike me, you remember the sugar, it will taste very very close to the stuff from your local takeaway. That, as far as I’m concerned, is the mark of a good, no great, cookery writer: someone who can simplify a recipe so that any old blogger can make it quickly and easily. Now could someone please write me a recipe for Christmas organisation…?

Easy pad Thai (adapted from Bill’s Everyday Asian)
The trick to this is get everything ready before you heat the wok. You don’t want to be undoing a new bottle of fish sauce (which is, as I discovered, devilish difficult to open with all its plastic seals) whilst your noodles are supposed to be cooking for a few seconds…

For two generous portions you will need:

Cupboard (or things you may already have)

neutral oil (like sunflower), 4 tablespoons
garlic cloves, three
sea salt and black pepper
eggs, 2
caster sugar, 1 tablespoon

Shopping list
flat, wide dried rice noodles, 200g
firm tofu, 200g (if you want to use chicken or prawns instead, use about the same amount and cook it first as per the tofu)
red onion
fish sauce, 3 tablespoons
limes, 3 (about 2 limes for juice, depending on how juicy they are, plus one to serve)
spring onions, 4
bean sprouts, 100g
roasted peanuts, 4 tablespoons
dried chilli, 1 or 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
small cucumber, or third of a large one

How to
1. Put the noodles in boiling hot water for five minutes to soften then drain and leave to one side.
2. Cube the tofu.
3. Peel the garlic and crush it with the blade of a knife.
4. Peel, top and tail and finely slice the red onion.
5. Break the eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat to mix together.
6. Juice two of the limes (you want two tablespoons of juice) and quarter the third one.
7. Trim and finely slice the spring onions.
8. Roughly chop the peanuts and, if necessary, crush the dried chilli.
9. Rinse the cucumber and chop into chunks.
10. Put half of the oil into a wok over a medium to high heat and add the tofu (or chicken/prawns if using). Cook until lightly browned all over, season and remove from the wok. If you are using meat/fish cook until done; it’s not going to get more than a brush with the heat after this.
11. Add the rest of the oil to the wok, tip in the garlic and sliced red onion and stir-fry for about 30 seconds until the garlic is golden. Remove from the wok too.
12. Season the eggs and add those to the wok. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring once or twice then add the noodles and mix together.
13. Add the caster sugar, fish sauce, lime juice to the noodles and eggs and cook again for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time.
14. Add the bean sprouts and spring onions to the wok and stir to mix together. Cook for a minute or two.
15. Return the cooked garlic and red onion to the wok and stir in.
16. Finally, return the tofu to the wok and stir to mix in.
17. Divide between two bowls, sprinkle over the chopped, roasted peanuts and crushed, dried chilli or chilli flakes and serve with lime quarters and the cucumber.

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