Thursday, November 12, 2009
Pad See Ew
Ah, Pad See Ew. It is probably the Thai dish I order most often and it only just dawned on me the other day (after reading about it) that "see ew" means soy sauce. Big "dur!" moment for me since "see ew" (various pronouciations depending on dialect) is also soy sauce in Chinese. Even though I like Pad See Ew a lot, I don't actually like it over Pad Thai. I order it but because I know I can actually get it vegan easily without worrying. The main ingredients in the sauce are simply sweet thick soy sauce. For omnis, a dash of fish sauce is thrown in but the key thing is that the soy sauce and fish sauce are not pre-mixed.
Call me paranoid, but since I found out a couple of years ago that many (almost all?) Thai restaurants pre-mix their Pad Thai seasoning (same also goes for most curries), I don't order it. See, the seasoning is pre-mixed in most cases because it would take too long, and would be inconsistent in taste to add the ingredients one by one while stirfrying the noodles. If it takes too long, the noodles turn to mush. Even street vendors in Thailand pre-mix their sauces. Almost every Pad Thai recipe also specifies to pre-mix the sauce. I don't know why it didn't dawn on me earlier. A waitress at a restaurant I used to frequent told me that the Pad Thai sauce is always pre-mixed there despite the fact that I would specify "no fish sauce" on previous visits (Thai Diner 2 in RVA if anyone is interested — Pad Thai is not vegan. Tara Thai in Short Pump mall though can be made vegan). I appreciated her honestly and it is possible that the other wait staff weren't even aware of how it's cooked. Anyway after that I pretty much stopped ordering Pad Thai. I'm sure not all restaurants pre-mix but I'd be willing to bet that most do. The waitress did tell me that Pad See Ew (which I also love) can easily have the fish sauce omitted and judging from other recipes I found, she's right.
Okay I'm totally rambling. Above is Pad See Ew that I made using this recipe (not vegan but easily made vegan) as a blueprint*. I didn't have any sweet soy so I boiled down some soy sauce with sugar. I threw in some onion, garlic, broccoli and tatsoi. I absolutely love Chinese broccoli (gai lan) and would have used it instead of regular broccoli but didn't have any on hand. I also fried up some strips of seitan I had on hand in the fridge and added that in.
Even though I have made Pad Thai lots of times (similar steps, this is the last one I made), her instructions are great for the new cook. It was delicious and definitely worth the effort. It may seem daunting at first to do things separately but once you get the hang of it, it'll be a piece of cake. Give it a try!
*Pim also has an excellent blueprint for Pad Thai as well (also not vegan but easily made vegan). Going to try it her way next time.