Dr. John's Recipe Corner

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is without a doubt Jess' favorite takeout dish, and our friend Steph has been promised this recipe several times now, so here it goes! I love experimenting with restaurant-style Southeast Asian food at home because it is way cheaper and you can be assured there are no mystery ingredients ;) This is a recipe based on several authentic 'street vendor' versions I have found. I've honed it down to a simple method that can compete with the best takeout you'll find. There are two keys to success: 1) do all prep (chopping, washing, etc.) before you heat up the wok, and 2) make it in small batches, most woks can only handle 1 or 2 servings at a time. The latter step prevents the wok from cooling down (keep that baby hot!) and allows the noodles to soak up all that delicious sauce. The way I do it is to cook all the items first, and then set them aside. Then you make single servings by adding a little of each ingredient and stir frying with the sauce. The wok should be hot enough to cook each ingredient in only a couple minutes. Oh, also, no worries if you don't have a wok; a big steel pan or cast iron will work just as well. Let us know if you like it!

peanut oil
tamarind paste (1 can, check your grocery store Asian section, I like the one pictured that comes in a plastic jar)
chili powder
fish sauce
flat rice noodles (1 package, don't skimp on quality here, and beware the dusty packages of stale noodles on the corner store shelf!)
eggs (about 1 per serving)
unsalted, roasted peanuts
shrimp or tofu (as much as you want)
garlic (about a clove per serving)
bean sprouts (about 1/2 cup per serving)
jalapenos (optional)

1. Make sauce:
In a bowl, mix can of tamarind paste, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 1 cup fish sauce. The easiest way is to just add the whole can of tamarind (about 1 1/2 cups) and then use the empty can to measure out the fish sauce and sugar. Note: this makes it sweet, so if you like yours more savory, leave out a little of the sugar and add the fish sauce to taste. Finally, add juice from half a lime, and add chili powder to taste (a couple of T should do ya)*.  Leftover sauce can be stored in fridge for several weeks or frozen indefinitely.

2. Prep all ingredients:
Cook the noodles according to the package until they just start to soften (they will be finished off in the wok); drain and rinse them in cold water. Wash all veggies. Drain sprouts if canned. Chop garlic, shallots and cilantro. Chop peanuts in food processor, or crush with mortar and pestle (a shot glass and bowl will also work, in a pinch). Scramble the eggs in a bowl.

3. Heat up the wok and cook the ingredients:
Heat about 1 teaspoon of oil to medium and cook eggs; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high and saute garlic and shrimp (or tofu) in 1 T of oil; set aside. If desired, toast peanut pieces briefly in wok and set aside.

4. Make small batches of the finished product:
Still at medium-high, heat a little more oil and add a handful of noodles, and some sprouts and shallots. Stir-fry for a minute or two until heated through. Then add the cooked eggs and about a cup of sauce. Cook another minute or two until the noodles start to soak up the sauce. Add more sauce if it looks too dry, you really can't go wrong with the sauce.

Serve garnished with peanut pieces, cilantro, a lime wedge and chili powder. Don't omit these, they are essential to making this dish be all it can be.

This one's for you Steph, enjoy!

* This is calculated using Tex Mex style chili powder, which is diluted with cumin and other stuff. If you can find it, the chilli powder that is sold in Indian food markets and Asian markets is pure chili and is more authentic and a lot spicier. Watch out or you burn your lips!

Chipotle Beef Pasta

We used to love going to a little cafe in Bryan, Texas called Square One that serves a tasty little pasta dish with chipotle peppers. We've been wanting to try to make something like it at home and finally got around to giving it a shot and it really turned out well. It's super simple and it's got all things good: pasta, cheese, and a lot of heat! Enjoy!
3/4 lb of pasta (whole wheat penne or rotini work well)
1 can of La CosteƱa chipotle peppers (or equivalent), see picture
1 lb of beef, cut into bite size strips
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
12 oz fresh mushrooms, halved
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream (could use half and half for lower fat)
garlic powder
onion powder
black pepper
olive oil

Cook the pasta and drain. As the pasta is cooking, sear the beef at high heat in a large frying pan coated with a little oil. I prefer cast iron to get a little crust on the meat (non-stick pans just don't get the same flavor). Season the meat with a little garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper, to taste. Before the meat is done (after a couple minutes cooking), add the onions and cook another minute or two. Then add the mushrooms and chopped garlic. Cook a couple of minutes until the mushrooms start to soften. Next, the heat down to medium and add the chipotles (with sauce from the can) and the parmesan. Stir until the cheese starts to melt. Add the cream and stir until all is well mixed, cook another minute or so to let the cream soak up the flavor. Serves 4-5. Serve with a salad for a complete meal.

Caution: this is a spicy one!

Buen provecho!


  1. Yum. Now master the bread pudding. It has a bourbon sauce, must have the bourbon sauce.

  2. Yum! Can you share your pad thai recipe?! Aaron would love me forever...oh, wait, he better do that any way!