tasty tuesday: shrimp pad thai, lightened up

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Happy Tasty Tuesday, everyone!  Tonight, I have for you some make-your-own-take-out that lets you control the ingredients, particularly the portions and the oil.  Pad Thai is a delicious indulgence, but its general unhealthiness sneaks up on you.  You may have had the following thought process: “What, it’s just chicken or fish, and it’s not fried!  What, they’re just peanuts, right?  Ok sure, there are a TON of rice noodles here, but so what?  Oh, it’s a little greasy?  Hmmm…” Yeah, Pad Thai is a sneaky mistress of calories, but this is a sneaky attempt to lighten it up without losing flavor.  Don’t get me wrong–don’t go crazy with your portions here.  The secret is three-fold: 1-use traditional shrimp instead of chicken or pork.  Shrimp is such a great way to get lean protein for such a low calorie bargain (or Points, if your a WW person like me).  2-be in control of the amount of rice noodles you use.  A box of rice noodles has four servings, so if you’re just cooking for two like me, only prepare half of the box.  3-use a low-calorie filler to make up for the smaller amount of pasta.  Here, I used mushrooms, which are great flavor absorbers, are pretty filling, are great for you, and most importantly: they take up a good deal of room on the plate to make you feel like you’re eating more.  I promise, you’ll feel fully satisfied after this bowl of tasty Thai goodness–the protein from the egg and shrimp, the satisfaction from the noodles, and the good fat from the peanut butter (and smaller amount of canola oil) will have you asking, “When are we making this again?”

Another note: do NOT leave out the fish sauce.  Fish sauce is an ingredient is several Thai dishes, and it’s what will take your homemade dish from lackluster stir fry to “wow–this tastes like someone who knows what she’s doing made it!”  It’s relatively inexpensive–a little over $3 at the grocery store (yes, you can get it at Kroger, Macon people), it has a distant expiration date and is a cheap investment.  A warning, though: if you haven’t used it before, know that fish sauce is quite “fragrant.”  It’s not to be consumed alone, but a few tablespoons in a large dish really give a huge depth of flavor, and I promise that your food won’t taste like this stuff smells.

Shrimp Pad Thai

Serves 2

4 oz. rice noodles (check the label of your box–Annie Chung’s brand comes in a box of 8 oz.)

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 Tbsp. canola oil (don’t use olive oil–the flavor will overpower the dish)

2 eggs, whisked together

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 Tbsp. fish sauce

1 Tbsp. crunchy peanut butter

juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (adjust heat to your taste)

4 green onions, thinly sliced

handful of basil leaves, thinly sliced

Place the noodles in a large bowl and, when the water from the faucet is super hot, run the noodles under the hot water until the water covers the noodles.  Set aside. You’re not boiling these, but this process will cook the noodles, so no worries.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil over high heat in a wok or large pan.  Add the shallot, garlic, and shrimp and cook until shrimp is translucent (probably about 2-3 minutes).  Remove the shrimp and set aside.  Add the other 1 Tbsp. of oil to the hot pan and add the eggs for a quick scramble.  When the eggs are scrambled, set aside.  Next, add the mushrooms and place the lid on the pan.  Cook until mushrooms get soft (about five minutes).

While the mushrooms are cooking, mix together the fish sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, and red pepper flakes.  When the mushrooms are ready, pour the water off of the noodles and add the noodles to the pan with the mushrooms.  Turn the heat down to medium-low.  Add the sauce and, using tongs, mix to combine.  Next, add back in the egg and shrimp, then turn off the heat.  Add the green onions and mix everything together.  Divvy the mixture up into two pasta bowls or onto two plates, then garnish with the basil.

One comment

  1. Another excellent recipe, and also the comment about fish sauce is “spot on”. I learned this the hard way, and in the right amount, is a huge flavor booster. Good points about the hidden calories in this traditional dish. Again, thanks for sharing with your readers\followers. Mark

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