The plan with the bok choy was to make ladna from Hot Sour Salty Sweet, a cookbook so beautiful and heavy that we have never cooked from it. Unfortunately, we were foiled by someone snatching up the last of the fresh rice noodle sheets at our local asian grocery store (just as we were about to figure out that they were the noodles we were looking for). I attempted to argue that we could probably use any type of rice noodle as a replacement, but neither Andrew nor the grocery store owner were having any of it. We decided on pad Thai instead.
Pad Thai with Bok Choy and Tofu
The entire time I’ve been with Andrew, I’ve been under the impression that he doesn’t like cooking stir-fries. A sample interaction:
Kyra: “Should we make this stir-fry?”
Andrew: *noncommittal grunt*
I never understood why, since he ate stir-fries at restaurants with great enthusiasm. But I discovered on Friday that Andrew was more than happy to stir-fry if we didn’t use a stove. Apparently, the stoves you have in your kitchen don’t get hot enough and the ingredients steam instead of brown, especially if you’re using a $10 wok from IKEA. But he’d seen Alton Brown make pad Thai on the grill and had always wanted to try it.
Stir-frying on the grill: this is a thing!
Our pad Thai recipe came from the big yellow Gourmet Cookbook, although we substituted bok choy for the shrimp. Like you do.
There’s some prep:
- To make the sauce, you break off a chunk from a block of tamarind and soak it for 10 minutes in a cup of boiling water, stirring and smooshing the tamarind a bit. Then you strain it and add 3 TB fish sauce and 3 TB light brown sugar to the tamarind water.
- Next, you dice up the tofu, spring onions, bok choy, anything else that’s going in.
- Beat two eggs in a bowl.
- Assemble everything else in little bowls so that you can get to them in a hurry once you’ve starting cooking.
- When it’s time to cook, the order is important. You cook each ingredient separately, beginning with the eggs, then onions and bok choy, tofu, then sauce. Simmer the noodles in the sauce until tender (we used fresh noodles that didn’t need to be soaked beforehand). Then you add everything back to the pot.
While Andrew prepped the ingredients inside, I went outside and lit the coals in the chimney starter. When the coals were coated in ash and flames were shooting out the top, we stuck the wok directly on top of the chimney. We started by roasting some peanuts, but realized that we’d accidentally bought blanched peanuts instead of raw peanuts and they took forever to brown, by which I mean they mostly released slightly off-putting liquid while the coals in the chimney slowly died.
We changed course, dumped the coals, and put the wok directly on the coals (my IKEA wok behaved admirably). This was much more successful, and we finished cooking in an enthusiastic frenzy.
We garnished with lime, bean sprouts, cilantro, and the sort-of roasted peanuts.
I found this method quite wonderful, since it combined my love of grilling with my love of using up random things we have lying around. The dish had no charcoal flavor despite being cooked on the grill, but the freshness of the vegetables and the pungency of the tamarind flavor in the sauce was pretty spectacular.
CSA vegetables used: half the bok choy, the rest of the spring onions.
Other ingredients used: fish sauce, tamarind paste, light brown sugar, two eggs, half an onion, noodles, tofu, peanuts, onion, limes, cilantro.