The curated kitchen: new cookbook Pok Pok and recipe for Phat Thai

Pok Pok is it is in a basement. Yes. A basement. As in duck your head, watch the ceiling, sit on vinyl chairs, eat at rickety tables. A basement. But, magically, the basement fades away when the server places a plate of Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce wings in front of you. It’s not that basement disappears; it is just that you no longer care. In fact, all you care about is that your dining companions help themselves to few, very few, of your wings. Because these wings, and a good sprinkling of the items on the Pok Pok menu, deliver pure, unadulterated, entirely addictive, umami-laced flavor. Can’t get to the Pok Pok basement? No problem. Because now, with the Pok Pok cookbook, you can replicate the dishes at home. Starting with the Andy Ricker recipe for Phat Thai, right after the jump.

PHAT THAI (stir-fried noodles with shrimp)

 

Recipe: Phat Thai

Stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp, tofu, and peanuts

 

THE PLAN

Up to 2 weeks in advance: Make the toasted-chile powder and the palm sugar simple syrup

Up to 1 week in advance: Toast the dry shrimp and make the tamarind water

 

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

A large heavy skillet (or wok) and a wok spatula

Serves 1 as a one-plate meal (to make more, double or quadruple the ingredients, but cook each batch separately)

 

SHRIMP AND SAUCE

1 tablespoon medium-size dried shrimp, rinsed and patted dry

3 tablespoons Naam Makham (Tamarind water), page 275

2 tablespoons plus 3/4 tea-spoon Naam Cheuam Naam Taan Piip (Palm sugar simple syrup), page 275

1 1/2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

 

STIR-FRY

4 ounces (about 2 cups, tightly packed) semi-dried thin, flat rice noodles (sometimes labeled “phat thai”), see Note

2 tablespoons rendered pork fat or vegetable oil

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 1/4 ounces unflavored pressed tofu (firmer than “extra firm”), cut into small pieces (about 1 inch long, 1/2 inch wide, and 1/4 inch thick), about 1/4 cup

1 tablespoon shredded salted radish, soaked in water 10 minutes then drained

2 ounces bean sprouts (about 1 cup, lightly packed)

2 ounces medium shrimp, (about 4), shelled and deveined

1/4 cup very coarsely chopped (about 1-inch lengths) garlic chives, plus a pinch or two for finishing

2 generous tablespoons coarsely chopped unsalted roasted peanuts

 

TO SERVE ALONGSIDE

2 small lime wedges (preferably from a Key lime)

Fish sauce

Granulated sugar

Phrik Naam Som (Vinegar-soaked chiles), page 286

Phrik Phon Khua (Toasted-chile powder), page 270

Note: Semi-dried noodles (fairly pliable rather than brittle, like fully dried) are widely available in the refrigerated sections of Asian markets. If you can’t find semi-dried noodles, you can substitute 2¼ ounces of fully dried “phat thai” noodles soaked in lukewarm water for about 10 extra minutes (to approximate the texture of semi-dried noodles).

 

TOAST THE SHRIMP AND MAKE THE SAUCE

Heat a small dry pan or wok over medium heat, add the dried shrimp, and cook, stirring frequently, until they’re dry all the way through and slightly crispy, about 5 minutes. Set them aside in a small bowl. Covered at room temperature, they’ll keep for up to 1 week.

Combine the tamarind water, simple syrup, and fish sauce in a small bowl and stir well. Measure 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons, discarding the rest.

 

SOAK THE NOODLES AND STIR-FRY THE DISH

Soak the noodles in lukewarm water until they’re very pliable but not fully soft, about 20 minutes. Dain them well and snip them into approximately 8-inch lengths just before stir-frying.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat (or a wok over very high heat), add the pork fat, and swirl it to coat the sides. When it begins to smoke lightly, crack the egg into the center of the pan (it should spit and sizzle violently and the whites should bubble and puff). Add the tofu, radish, and dried shrimp beside the egg. If you’re using a skillet, decrease the heat to medium; if you’re using a wok, keep the heat very high.

Cook, stirring everything but the egg, until the edges of the egg are light golden brown, about 1 minute, then flip the egg (it’s fine if the yolk breaks), break the egg into several pieces with the spatula, and stir everything together well.

Add the noodles and bean sprouts, and stir-fry (constantly stirring, scooping, and flipping) until the noodles and bean sprouts have softened slightly, about 1 minute.

Add the shrimp, then stir the tamarind mixture once more and add it to the pan. Stir-fry, making sure the shrimp get plenty of time on the hot surface, until they are cooked through, just about all the liquid has evaporated, and the noodles are fully tender and no longer look gloppy or clumpy, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add the chives and 1 tablespoon of the peanuts. Stir-fry briefly, then transfer it all to a plate, sprinkle on the remaining peanuts and chives, and serve with the lime wedges. Season to taste with the fish sauce, sugar, vinegar-soaked chiles, and chile powder.

{Review copy courtesy of the publisher. Recipe reprinted with permission from Pok Pok by Andy Ricker with J.J. Goode, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC. Photography credit: Austin Bush © 2013. For the website, a link to method of purchase is required (e.g. Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Powells.com, IndieBound.org or any online bookseller of your choice). Publisher retains all copyrights and the right to require immediate removal of this excerpt for copyright or other business reasons.}