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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pad Thai According to Harry

Whether it’s your last minute take-out fall back or your hangover prevention tool (always eaten standing up in your kitchen at 3am), Pad Thai is the ubiquitously over-done and over-consumed staple of the 20-something proletariat set. More often than not it’s a subpar experience, about as authentic as Dominos. That said, we are not above a huge bowl of a Pad Thai, slathered in Siracha of course, in fact it’s one of our favorite things to cook together.

While there is obvious appeal to the tangy, savory, fishy, umami that is good Pad Thai, we really make it because it’s Harry’s favorite. You may ask, how does a dog have a favorite noodle dish, not to mention sway over his Daddys’ cooking choices? Well you haven’t met Harrison...

P found Harry while perusing in search of a rescue in the “Cairn” category. We had been searching for months for just the right fit, applied for several, and met with no success. It was just another night on the sofa - watching House Hunters and berating the potential home buyers for their particular version of the unrealistic real estate expectations of the suburban American public - when his face popped onto the screen. It was love at first sight! Note: The location of these rescues can be rather confusing as occasionally the rescue organization is located in one state, while the actual animal is being fostered in another, this is relevant, I promise. We thought it over for a full second, then sent an email to inquire/apply.

A few emails later, our credentials fully verified, we had him, on one condition, we drive to pick him up in person (I told you location would be relevant). Well as it turns out, his location was not within the prescribed 50 mile radius surrounding Baltimore, in fact, not even close. Bluefield, West Virginia is about as close to Baltimore as, well…Providence RI. But it didn’t matter, we had fallen deeper and deeper in love with his little face every day that passed, constantly refreshing petfinder just to see that mug. P will kill me for admitting this, but we are guilty of texting each other his petfinder profile picture several times a dat throughout the work week (whups).

Having mapped our route, and taken vacation days from work, we woke up at 4am one cold February morning, and headed on our way. We enjoyed the scenery (and a few snacks) as we passed through Virginia horse country around the Shenandoah National Park, babbling about what the little one would be like, and what we would name him, it was all a little much (per usual). Around Roanoke we arrived on the name Houston, after Whitney (obviously) who had just passed, thanks goodness we got over that….talk about a cliché, and honestly, who would answer to “Houghy!”….

It wasn’t until we got off 81, and in the pouring rain we entered the Jefferson National Forest that the reality began to set in….we were going to be doggie parents! P immediately projected his anxiety on Gruff, as he was known at the time, panicking about his temperament or even that he might be chubbier than his profile pic - "What if he's fat?!?" (through choked back tears) I, on the other hand, worried silently about our ability to manage his needs and the demands of our work lives. Before we knew it, we were in the parking lot of a Big-K off a frontage road (I know…) staring into each others eyes and realizing….we forgot a water bowl for the 6+ hour ride home.

With his arrival imminent, P ran into the Big-K to purchase a substitute (he's so brave). While he was in the store, a pick-up pulled up, out of which stepped two people who changed our lives forever, and in their arms, the face we fell in love with a few short weeks ago. In the driving rain, I took him in my arms and he clung to me like a child, actually hugging me with those little legs and paws. I looked up and locked eyes with P as he emerged from the sliding doors and I saw his heart melt over the fox-like little nugget in my arms. We held him together for a short time, then chatted briefly with the fosters about vet logistics, before being forced into the car by the deluge. We lingered a while, hearts pounding as Gruff snuggled between us, we were speechless. He was perfect, small, affectionate (almost to a human extent) and spirited as terriers are. All our fears vanished as soon as we held him, and we started our journey home with our expanded family. I don’t recall if it was before or after the stop at 5 Guys but we glanced at the map and instantly knew his name. As we passed Harrisonburg, VA, Gruff became Harry, forever a reminder of the long journey to bring him into our lives.

Until you’ve met him, and you have looked into his sparkling eyes, seen the way he prances around the house, heard him sigh from under the sheets, or throw a sideways glance as misbehaving dogs and children often do, you really just don’t know the power he can have over a person. Harry is the light of our lives, he gives us something to look forward to after a long day of work, and provides the emotional common ground that many young couples need from time to time. He is everything to us, ask anyone who knows us (or just look at my instagram) and you will know just how much power he has over our lives.

So... I know I’ve been waxing poetically over Harrison, nearly 1000 words at this point, but this is only to provide some insight into why we call Pad Thai Night Harry’s favorite and is consistently one of our favorite things to make.

Harry is a picky eater, the sound of kibble in his bowl doesn’t even wake him in the morning. One day, frustrated by the lack of interest he was showing in his dinner, I threw him a carrot. He went nuts! Running in circles, wolfing it down, and jumping up and begging for more. Since then we’ve learned that nearly every fresh vegetable sends him into a euphoric frenzy. Acrobatics for cauliflower and singing for broccoli, Harry lives for veggies, and we can’t help but to indulge him.

So, with the carrots, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, and other veggies that abound (and fly off the cutting board) in our ever changing recipe, Pad Thai Night is a veritable smorgasbord for the little guy. While I chop and cook the veggies, P indulges Harry with his favorite morsels, eliciting barks, yelps and occasionally I swear I see a back flip. It is a cacophonous cooking experience, but we love it!

In reality, this post is not an ode to Pad Thai, but really a thinly veiled and shameless way to introduce you to Harry.

The following recipe varies greatly depending on the produce we find available, and I admit we use a pre-made sauce, but preparing Pad Thai is one of the truest pleasures in our lives and one of our favorite meals that we would be remiss not to share.

Pad Thai According to Harry
(this recipe is a loose framework from which to start)

-          1 box Annie Chun’s brown rice noodles
-          1-2 jars Thai Kitchen Pad Thai Sauce
-          2 table spoons hot chili oil
-          Fish, oyster, or soy sauce to taste (sometimes we like to add some ginger sauce too)
-          3 chicken breasts chopped
-          3 eggs beaten
-          2 garlic cloves chopped
-          3 oz extra firm tofu (we often skip this but worth trying if you feel like it)
-          1 bag bean sprouts (keep in the fridge as the cold garnish adds a fresh bite)
-          Some crushed peanuts when available in your pantry
-          1 lime to squeeze once finished
-          Veggies – All chopped to about the same size – makes cooking time easier to manage – you might also want to use the lid as steaming can move cooking along a bit
o       Broccoli
o       Scallions (greens reserved for garnish)
o       Bell peppers (use red, yellow, or orange for color)
o       Purple cabbage
o       Napa cabbage
o       Peas
o       Carrots
o       Jalapeños
o       Baby bok choy (quartered)
o       Cauliflower
o       Shiitake mushrooms

-          Heat chili oil and garlic in large wok. Once hot, add denser veggies first, stir frying until they begin to tender. Once all veggies have been cooked to just about done, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
-          Drop chicken in remaining oil in the wok and stir fry. When just about cooked through, whisk in eggs with a fork.
-          While preparing the veggies and chicken boil water and cook rice noodles for about 8 mins, drain and return to pot tossed in some pad thai sauce. (you can sear the tofu in this step if you have it on hand)
-          Once chicken is done, turn heat to low, pour noodles in wok add a little more pad thai sauce, top with veggies and work it all together. Add in the remaining pad thai sauce and any other sauces to taste and consistency you like.
      -         Serve in large colorful bowl, top with peanuts, scallions, lime juice and chilled bean sprouts.
-          Cover in Siracha and enjoy

1 comment:

  1. Any post that includes the word "cacophonous" whilst introducing a Carin and providing a Pad Thai recipe gets a gold star in my book. I happen to agree Harry is perfection on four paws. I love knowing how he became "Harry."