pad thai with pork: inception of a nationalistic noodle.

Pad thai was one of the first dishes that I started to make, in my third year of university (when we were all starving - literally - students) as a means of feeding a large amount of people. It's a one-pot dish, and benign enough that even those who do not like 'exotic' food, enjoy it.

As people say when throwing baseballs, for pad thai - its all in the wrist. Stirring is the basis for this meal. And not those little dainty stirs you see performed by cute women in cute aprons, but gripping the handle and white knuckling a wooden spoon while digging veraciously into the mound of noodles, veggies, sauce, and meat. You should be able to see veins pop out on forearms through this approach - it is not for the weak of arm (which unfortunately I am).

Pad thai is technically the fast food of  the South-East Asian country which is known as a honeymoon destination and recently had a large number of red shirts in it (communist shirt makers must have adored that brief period in Thailand's history). However, there is a difference between our 'pad' and their 'pad'. Though street food, pad thai in Thailand is light and fresh.  Here, we have Americanized it, adding such perverse ingredients as ketchup. Ugh.

Pad thai has been around for pretty much as long as that country has - pad in Thai means 'stir'. The contemporary dish came into its own during the mid-20th century when Prime Minister Luang Phibunsongkhram promoted it as a national dish. Though it no longer holds those nationalistic sentiments in its noodles, read pad Thai tastes just as good as it did in the 40s. Served hot with some crunchy fresh beansprouts, a drizzle of lime, and a handful of crushed peanuts, its gourmet, ready in minutes (with a decent amount of prep time).
The wok is an amazing thing. If I was to only have two pots/pans/thing for cooking - it would be my wok and my cast iron dutch oven (both bought at Ming Wo). I think I could be content in this life with no other friends than these - though it would be hard to go for strolls with my unwieldy, heavy companions, though I would have the advantage of actually saying 'its like the pot calling the kettle black' literally (this would be humorous on so many levels). But since I have quite a few human friends, my relationship with my wok is on a purely utilitarian level - but oh my, it does that utility well.

Always remember that a wok works on high, high heat (you also have to recognize that your oil has to correspond to this heat - olive won't cut it - that's why peanut is so commonly used in high-heat-Asian-dishes). Non-stick doesn't matter in this case, and it is one of the few kitchen items where you don't 'get what you pay for'. The best wok is a well-seasoned carbon steel one, inexpensive, yet a gleaming thing of silvery beauty. Also, even though the price may have been low, the value isn't - treat your wok with care (I'm of a mind to begin a 'mistreatment of seasoned kitchen utensils' - you have no idea how many times I've found people cleaning my dutch oven, or my cast iron skillet with soap! Come on people!). Season it well before its first use, and you can find instructions here. And always clean per there instructions here.
We had to have a hearty meal and save our strength for the event ahead: a midnight showing of Christopher Nolan's new film Inception. Trust me on this one, you'll have to have all brain function firing for this one.
We committed ourselves to seeing this movie halfway through yesterday by buying tickets online yet still had to wait an hour and a bit in line for good seats (in a 500-seat theatre!). I love Nolan as much as the next gal, but staying out past my usual bedtime of 10:30pm is a rarity. So, to ensure that I went, Gord bought me a ticket - a very wise move my friend. However, I believe in firsts - it was my first time going to an opening of a movie, first time standing in a line for a movie (for seats), and the first time I went to a midnight showing. 
But, how could we not enjoy such a great night with sore backs/knees and tired jokes (both literal and figurative)?

By the way, I stayed awake through the entire film. I'm very proud. Brendon fell asleep. I know its petty, but I'm still proud, in a puff-out-my-chest-because-I-stayed-out-past-ten-on-a-weeknight-and-didn't-fall-asleep kind of way.
Please go see this outstanding film if you have a chance (you can tell how good it is from Noah's rapt expression even before it started). Even if you see it at 3 in the morning, I bet you a home-cooked-dinner that you will sit on the edge of your seat and not have the intellectual ability to close your eyes even for two seconds and miss the intertwining stories.

If you do however, I'll make you pad thai. It worked for me - best stay-up-for-a-super-late-film meal ever. And, since I'm giving you the recipe, in exchange, promise me you will never besmirch this delectable dish's good name by bringing ketchup anywhere near it.
Pad Thai with Pork

1 package medium, dry rice stick noodles
1/4 c. peanut oil, divided, and more if needed
1 pound pork loin, thinly sliced strips (shrimp or chicken works well in this recipe as well!)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, minced
3 eggs, beaten
1 c. mushrooms, sliced
1/4 c. green onions, thinly sliced plus 1 tbs.
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves plus 1 tbs.
handful of peanuts
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges

1/4 c. fish sauce
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tbs. tamarind paste
1/8 c. peanut oil

2 tbs. sriracha sauce (optional, for those who like it hot!)

1. Fill a large bowl with hot water and soak the dry rice noodles until softened, about 30 to 45 minutes. Strain and set aside.

2. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce.

3. Heat wok on high on the stove, add 1/8 c. peanut oil (or more if needed). Throw in Pork until it is cooked through (be careful not to overdo it otherwise the meat becomes tough). Remove and set aside.

4.  Heat the other 1/8 c. peanut oil, and throw in garlic and onion. Cook until brown. Add egg, and when almost completely cooked, add noodles. Add mushrooms and sauce. Cook until mushrooms are completely cooked.

5. Add pork to reheat, and the 1/2 c. cilantro, and the 1/4 c. green onions. Cook until pork is heated.

6. Divide onto plates, sprinkle the 1 tbs. reserved cilantro, peanuts, and 1 tbs. green onions on top.

7. Pray. Eat. Enjoy. Watch Inception.