September 18, 2009

Faux Phad Thai

So, I've been experimenting more and more with various vegetables this past summer. A wide variety of veggies isn't really something that I had growing up. Dad was very much a meat and potatoes kind of guy, and he did the bulk of the cooking because of mom's work schedule. So, my usual "vegetables" were actually starches and I was unaware of just how awesome fresh produce is. Something that I've discovered is a love of summer squash. Squash and I have had a shaky relationship thus far--I'm very particular about textures and winter squash is not a texture that I like very much. However, I read a lot of intriguing things about spaghetti squash and decided to give it a shot.

Spaghetti squash is interesting because it has the form of noodles when it's cooked and picked apart, but it doesn't have the texture of noodles. Spaghetti squash is not spaghetti, no matter how you try to slice it. However, that being said, it has a sweet and very mild flavor that supports and compliments stronger flavors quite nicely, so it's a good replacement for noodle dishes that have a spicy and flavorful sauce. The firm texture is also nice for some dishes, especially where there aren't a lot of other textures at play.

I figured that Phad Thai would be an ideal use for the "noodles" of spaghetti squash. So, I got a squash, stabbed it a few times with a knife to let the steam inside seep out during cooking, and I roasted it for an hour at 375 degrees.

I then proceeded to cut it exactly the wrong way. It should be cut along the middle short side, not along end to end. My "noodles" were consequently a little shorter than I'd have liked. However, they worked out perfectly fine and soon I had a heaping bowlful of delicious spaghetti squash strands!

Of course I saved the pulp, picked out the seeds, and gave them a thorough rinse. I'll be salting and roasting them later.

While the squash was in the last few minutes of its roast, I dug out my Phad Thai sauces and some chicken stock. Justin and I have been trying to find the perfect Phad Thai sauce and got two jars from Uwajimaya to experiment. We got a sweet and sour brown sauce (more peanut based) and a spicy red sauce (more... Everything except peanut based). The brown sauce is the clear winner of the two, but needs to be diluted with liquid to coat the food. So, I heated up about 1/4 of a cup of stock to mix the sauces into. Three tablespoons of brown and about a tablespoon of red. Then, I just let it hang out to get the peanuts ready.

I just gave them a quick crush with my mortar and pestle. I got a little shy of 1/4 c of peanuts, crushed when I decided I was done. Feel free to use a processor to crush yours--I just like them a little chunkier, and it's honestly easier to give them a few crushes with my pestle than to fiddle with grinders and blenders and stuff.

When the squash was done and the strands scraped out, the peanuts were crushed, the sauce was deliciously hanging out, and all was right with the world, I heated up some sesame oil in a pan and added some onion. It was a huge fatty onion, and I used about half of it. I cut it into quarters and sliced it rather thickly to make half-rings and into the oil they went, at medium heat, to become soft and delicious.

While they were softening up, I made some other fake noodles. Justin and I picked up a couple of bundles of some really intense asparagus, so I pulled out about six spears of it, cut off the tough ends, and sliced each spear into quarters.

Into the pan they went with the onions to become soft and delicious. I am usually a very strong proponent of the tender-crisp school of vegetable cooking, but since the goal with these was to get them rather noodle-like, I opted to cook them until they were quite soft and pliable.

During this cooking time, I beat three eggs together in a bowl. I don't have a photo of the egg-cooking process, since my sister called right then and she's going through a divorce and her ex is being kind of a butt and and and. I also don't have any pictures of the squash and sauce adding process, but here's pretty much how it went down:

I took the veggies out onto a plate and jacked the heat up to med-high. I added the eggs. I let them get about half firmed up in a thin layer on the bottom of the pan before I started sweeping them around. I shoved them to one side and added the squash. The sauce went on top. Turns out, the sauce was kind of thin, so I added another shot of chicken stock and another tablespoon of brown Phad Thai sauce. That worked pretty well. The veggies went back in for a final stir through. I let the squash soften juuuuuuuuuuuust a smidge in the sauce. I'm talking a smidge here. You don't want it to get mushy and gross. Despite still being on the phone, I didn't let it become inedible.

I also forgot the green onions. And didn't have any bean sprouts. This is about as faux as Phad Thai can get, but still so delicious! The squash was PERFECT and the asparagus added just a hint of flavor without overpowering the Phad Thai sauce. I think I might add more peanuts next time... The peanuts add a really necessary texture and extra shot of flavor.

So there you have it! Some stuff covered in Phad Thai sauce and made totally delicious. :D

No comments:

Post a Comment