Posted by: ham8cheese | November 29, 2009

my wok-wielding ancesters would be proud

…of Mr. Spoke.  But me? Not so much.  The one time I attempted to use our wok (to make Singaporean curry noodles), I turned out a gelatinous mess of noodles that were somehow both undercooked and overcooked at the same time – it was quite an achievement, I thought.  I found that notwithstanding that centuries of my ancestors presumably had no problem with the wok, I was overly intimidated by the intense heat used for wok cooking, and that I was also too tentative to grab the wok and deftly flip around its contents with the necessary speed.  Hence, the gelatinous mess of overcooked (and let’s not forget undercooked) curry noodles (which Mr. Spoke politely insisted, even when pressed, were perfectly cooked).  Since then, I have wisely left the wok to Mr. Spoke.

Mr. Spoke sauteeing the tofu in a rocket-hot wok for the Pad Thai.

Tonight, Mr. Spoke pulled out the wok and made one of my favorites, Pad Thai.  He has a theory that all the best foods in the world are peasant foods – meaning they involve fairly inexpensive / easy-to-obtain ingredients and lots of flavor (which you really need when trying to spruce up otherwise basic staples).  Pad Thai, with its perfect combination of intense tamarind sauce, fish sauce, crab paste, and lime juice, must be among the best of the peasant foods.  (Meat loaf, Vietnamese bun, cassoulet (i.e. beanie weanie), roti prata, and dosa are a few others that come to mind.)

Mr. Spoke swears by Chez Pim’s Pad Thai recipe (with detailed instructions).  He preps and lines up all the ingredients beforehand in little prep bowls, and makes one portion at a time.  He throws everything into a properly fiery wok, in rapid-fire succession.  I try to stay well out of the way while this is happening, since we have a smallish galley kitchen and timing is critical.

My dinner, by Mr. Spoke.

Once the Pad Thai is ready, there is no dilly-dallying to be done.  You have to eat it right then and there, otherwise the chef may well get cross.


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