Rush Hour Gourmet

Posted: July 12, 2007

Even Simplified Pad Thai has more ingredients than a typical quick dish. But this adaptation by Cook's Illustrated editors in The Best 30-Minute Recipe (America's Test Kitchen, 2006) pares the list to essentials - like fish sauce - now widely available in supermarket Asian food aisles.

Lime juice and brown sugar sub for the tamarind flavor.

As the noodles soak, you can prep other ingredients.

Simplified Pad Thai (Makes 4 servings)

8 ounces thick rice stick noodles (fettuccine-width)

1/4 cup fresh lime juice with 1/3 cup water

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use

3/4 pound medium (40/50-count) shrimp, peeled, deveined

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 large eggs, beaten lightly

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/3 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts

3 cups bean sprouts, well-rinsed

5 scallions, sliced thin

1 lime, cut in wedges for serving

1. In a large bowl, cover the noodles with hot tap water. Soak until pliable and limp but not fully tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. For the sauce, mix the lime juice, water, fish sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Set aside.

3. Pat shrimp dry. In skillet on high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil just to smoking. In a single layer, cook shrimp 1 minute before stirring. Cook to just pink around edges, 30 more seconds. Set aside.

4. Heat the last tablespoon of oil with garlic until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add eggs and salt. Cook, stirring briskly to scramble, 20 seconds.

5. Stir noodles into eggs. Add the sauce; toss to coat. Add 1/4 cup peanuts, sprouts, scallions (reserve 1/4 cup) and shrimp. Stir-cook until noodles are tender, 2 minutes.

6. Serve garnished with reserved peanuts and scallions.

Per serving: 453 calories, 30 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams sugar, 27 grams fat, 235 milligrams cholesterol, 1,505 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.

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