Bacon and Calamari Pad Thai
Myers + Chang, Boston
“I am always going to order pad Thai. It doesn’t matter if I am at the hottest new Southeast Asian spot where the chef is serving her modern interpretation of the dish, or the joint around the corner where I get takeout on Monday nights. Salty, sweet, funky—it is what I crave all the time. My sous chef, Ashley, knows how much I love it and created this fun, fresh version for a special at Myers+Chang. She replaces the standard chicken and shrimp with bacon and calamari, and it has fresh shredded cabbage and lots of lime on top. I love it. Every now and then, I ask her to bring it back so we can share it for lunch when we are working together.” —Karen Akunowicz
Pad Thai Sauce:
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup tamarind concentrate
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 pound dried wide rice noodles or rice sticks (we like Twin Marquis brand)
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil, divided
- 1 medium garlic clove, thinly sliced
- One 1-inch knob ginger, peeled and cut into matchstick-size pieces
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 pound calamari rings and tentacles (about 1 cup)
- 2 cups bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound)
- 1 cup cilantro leaves (about 1/2 bunch)
- 1 bunch scallions (8 or 9), white and green parts thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (about 1/2 small head)
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves (about 1/2 bunch)
- 1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
- 1 lime, quartered or cut into 6 wedges
Make the pad Thai sauce: in a small saucepan, combine the fish sauce, tamarind concentrate, honey, vinegar, garlic, and red pepper flakes and bring up to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water until smooth to make a slurry (see note). Whisk the slurry into the tamarind sauce and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, whisking continuously, for 2 minutes. As the cornstarch cooks, it will thicken up the sauce. Remove from heat and let cool. The pad Thai Sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
In a large pot, bring about a gallon of water to a boil. Drop in the noodles and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the noodles in a colander and toss with 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil to keep them from sticking together. Set aside.
Heat a wok or large, heavy, flat-bottomed skillet over high heat and add the remaining 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for 10 seconds. Add the onion and stir until soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and add the beaten eggs. Stir constantly to make scrambled eggs. Once the eggs are cooked, add the calamari and stir for about 10 seconds. As the calamari cooks, the rings will firm up and the tentacles will curl.
Add the pad Thai Sauce and the noodles and stir and toss to evenly coat the noodles with the sauce. Let the sauce reduce a bit until glossy and the noodles start to absorb the sauce, about 1 minute. Throw in the bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions, and bacon and toss for 3 minutes. Divide among four to six bowls and garnish each with a neat pile of shredded cabbage, Thai basil, roasted peanuts, and a lime wedge. Instruct your guests to squeeze the lime over the top and mix all the toppings together before eating.
Note: Don’t use warm or hot water because it will cause the cornstarch to seize up into small lumps that won’t dissolve no matter how hard you whisk, which is why you can’t mix it directly into the sauce.
From MYERS + CHANG AT HOME © 2017 by Joanne Chang with Karen Akunowicz. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
4 to 6 servings