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Pad Thai

Serves 4

Almost everything here - except tamarind pulp and dried shrimp - comes from the supermarket. Do all the chopping and assemble the ingredients on a tray. You'll also need a deep wok or skillet.

2 tablespoons tamarind pulp, dissolved in 3 tablespoons of warm water and pressed through a sieve
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 ounces firm tofu, cut into narrow 2-inch-long strips
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, finely chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound dried rice stick noodles (about the thickness of linguine), soaked in warm water for 20 minutes and drained
3 cups mung bean sprouts
2 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 cups dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 limes, cut into small wedges

1. In a small bowl, mix together the tamarind, fish sauce, and brown sugar.

2. Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat until smoking. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl the pan to coat it. Add the shallot and stir-fry for 20 seconds or until it begins to change color. Add the garlic and stir-fry 10 seconds more.

3. Add the tofu and dried shrimp and press them gently against the hot sides of the wok for 20 seconds to sear them.

4. Pour in the eggs and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a plate and set aside.

5. Return the wok or skillet to high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl the pan to coat it. Add the noodles and stir-fry for 30 seconds, pressing the noodles against the hot wok to sear them. Add the tamarind mixture and stir-fry for 30 seconds more. Add 2 cups of the bean sprouts and the scallions. Toss for 30 seconds. Return the egg mixture to the pan; toss thoroughly.

6. Gently transfer the pad Thai to a platter, folding in the remaining bean sprouts. Garnish with the chopped peanuts, cilantro leaves, and limes. - Jonathan Levitt

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