Monday, 5 June 2017

Tips on How to Cook Pad Thai from Chef Andy Yang of Rhong Tiam

Pad-Thai

Pad Thai, the rice noodle dish is the national dish of Thailand - countless versions of it are found all over Thailand and around the world, from dusty street corners to exclusive fine dining restaurants.

Phibun
Source: Public Domain photo


The dish first brought to Thailand by Chinese traders many centuries ago was popularised by the Thai government in crisis. During the Second World War (1939 - 1945), Thailand fell into severe economic crisis - Thailand needed to export rice despite suffering drought and rice shortage. In order to reserve good quality rice for export to earn much needed foreign exchange, Prime Minister Phibunsongkhram's government promoted the eating of rice noodles which is made with lower quality or chipped rice. Pad Thai was the dish used to encourage the eating of rice noodles.

Pad-Thai

Most modern versions of Pad Thai are considerably more elaborate than the Pad Thai of the difficult 1940s. 

The original Pad Thai is just rice noodles, shrimps, bean sprouts, chives, fish sauce, sugar and oil but it tastes wonderful.

The secret is in the technique.

Chef-Andy-Yang

Andy Yang, Michelin-Star Chef and Founder of Rhong Tiam is one of the most inspiring persons I've ever met. Articulate, serious yet humorous and approachable, Andy Yang related with infectious inspiration his own rags to riches story. When Rhong Tiam first started in New York City, Chef Andy had to rely on takings from lunch to buy ingredients for dinner - the restaurant was fighting for survival from meal to meal. Today, the Rhong Tiam brand has over a dozen outlets in several countries, including Singapore.

A specialist in cuisine of his homeland, Chef Andy said that Pad Thai, the humble rice noodle dish is the hardest Thai dish to cook well.

During the World Street Food Congress Dialogue, Chef Andy described in detail how a good Pad Thai is made - I hope I recorded it down accurately. Here is my interpretation of Chef Andy's tips.

It all boils down to "infusion and explosion".

Stage 1 - infuse the oil with flavours.

First, saute fresh shrimps in a bit of hot oil in a wok to release its flavour. Let the natural crustacean savoury sweet flavour of the shrimp infuse the sizzling hot oil. Then, break an egg and stir fry it in the wok. The egg will moderate the oil temperature a little. Now, add in and saute bits of garlic and shallots till browned and their released flavours infused the oil.

Stage 2 - infuse the rice noodles with flavours from the aromatic oil.

Add in the kway teow (rice noodles), stir fry and toss the contents in the super heated hot wok (at least 2500 BTU gas burner). The idea is to let the contents "dance in the heat" as Chef Andy said. This will give the kway teow a toasty caramelised sear outside without burning them. (Wok hei or "spirit of the wok" as the Cantonese call it.) Add in fish sauce and a little sugar to keep the noodles moist and for more flavours. Let the flavour of the shrimp and musky fish sauce infuse into the strands of kway teow. 

Final stage, garnishing.

Once the kway teow is done, toss in chives and bean sprouts. Fold them in the noodles, to just lightly cook the chives and bean sprouts so that they retain their juicy crunch and natural sweetness.

What is a good Pad Thai?

The proof of the Pad Thai is in the eating.

Pad-Thai

"When you bite into the Pad Thai noodles, the infused flavours should burst and explode in your mouth" Chef Andy Yang said.

Now, I shall go and search for such Pad Thai to share with you 😋

Disclosure: The trip was organised by Makansutra and presented by Tourism Promotions Board, Philippines.

Date: 1 Jun 2017

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I firmly believe that taste is subjective and so, warmly welcome differing viewpoints :-D But, I disapprove negative comments that are anonymous or hide behind fake identities. I feel that that is unethical in the same way as speaking ill of others behind their backs. I look forward to all your comments :-D Thank you. (Date: 18 Dec 2015)

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