Semolina’s Pad Thai

When chefs Gary Darling, Hans Limberg, and Greg Reggio started Semolina, one of their best and most popular dishes was pad thai. It never was exactly the way you’d find it in a Thai restaurant, but it was hardly bad. This recipe evolved in my kitchen from theirs. It differs in that I let the ingredients brown a little more over higher heat. And I make it a good deal spicier.

There’s only one Semolina left, still making this and all the other specialties of that former chain. It’s in the Clearview Mall, where the Taste Buds’ other restaurant, Zea, is too.

  • Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 6 dried shrimp, ground to powder
  • 1 tsp. Pickapeppa sauce
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 2 cups cooked, diced chicken
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup tofu, cut into medium rectangles
  • 4 sprigs cilantro, leaves only, chopped
  • 4 large leaves fresh basil, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. Sriracha (Asian hot sauce)
  • 1 lb. medium rice noodles, cooked till just soft and drained
  • ~
  • Garnish:
  • 1/4 cup crushed roasted peanuts
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 small carrot, sliced into matchsticks
  • Sliced green onions
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Crushed red pepper

1. Combine all the sauce ingredients. Add a tablespoon or two of water to lighten it if it seems too thick.

2. Heat the sesame oil in a skillet or wok over high heat until it almost smokes. Add the shrimp and cook until pink. Add all the other ingredients, tossing constantly, until the tofu begins to get firm. Add the sauce and cook, tossing the pan contents constantly, until the sauce coats everything and the pan is steaming.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanuts, sprouts, and carrots, tossing very lightly. Serve in a broad-rimmed bowl with more Sriracha squirted along the rim and green onions, cilantro, and crushed red pepper for those who like this really hot.

Serves two to four.

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