I didn’t realise that looking at the photos of my pad thai now would give me such a great sense of pride. As you can see, I finally decided to cook something rather than just bake and bake like I’ve been doing since the blog came to be. It’s strange but I’ve always felt intimidated by cooking. Factoring in my lack of culinary confidence and that fact that cooking has more to do with technique than measurements, I tend to shy away from making anything as crucial as a meal.
In baking, it’s much easier to follow a set of numbers that ensures a positive result. Baking is almost scientific, with specificity in both ingredient and procedure. You only have to follow the recipe to the letter and you will encounter no problems. But in cooking a lot of it has to do with adjusting to taste, and I guess maybe I’m just nervous about being scrutinised for something bland-tasting– or worse, bad-tasting– since I’ve already kind of established myself in the circle of people I know as a decent baker.
You see I don’t even dare call myself a “good” baker because there’s still too much to learn before that word feels remotely appropriate. So imagine how I would describe myself as a cook! To begin with: inexperienced. If only I would make an effort to cook more my confidence will grow. At some point I have to do it rather than just keep reciting it over and over, yes?
I saw my first chance last weekend, when all the members of my family went out of town for a staycation and left me and my baby brother home alone. I decided to cook something I’ve wanted to try for a while but isn’t so difficult– just a little something to wet my hands and get a feel of my cooking “abilities”. That’s where this Pad Thai comes in. Reading through the ingredients, I saw that all the familiar Thai flavours were used to season the noodles. The addition of spicy canned tuna was used to create a pantry-friendly meal. I could tell this was a great choice right away!
It’s ironic that I don’t really eat that much pastries and desserts but I just loooove to make them; and I absolutely adore eating “real food” but I very rarely decide to cook them on my own. But I’ve learned that in both cooking and baking, relying on your instincts and gut-feel is useful to a certain point, and that’s what helped me to succeed in making this recipe.
I was surprised by how well my Pad Thai turned out, to be honest. Thanks to a shortage of lemons, my execution was a bit sweet and lacked the tang from the combination of the lemon and the fish sauce, but it was still a delicious take nonetheless. The canned spicy tuna in oil added another dimension to the noodles, giving it a pleasant heat. For those who love spicy things like myself, I would recommend mixing in some chili flakes as you cook for an added kick.
Truth be told I was hella’ nervous as I watched my baby brother pick up his first forkful of the pad thai. For a couple of seconds as he ate and swallowed, I might’ve closed my eyes and prepared myself for the worst, most searing comment. But then he kept filling his plate with one serving after another. I took my own first bite then and had to smile. This recipe was indeed a pretty good choice!
Spicy Tuna Pad Thai
For the pad thai sauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup fish sauce, patis
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
For the noodles
- 300 grams uncooked fettuccine noodles
- 2 tablespoons corn oil
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 180-gram cans hot and spicy tuna flakes in oil
- 1 square beancurd, deep-fried then cut into strips
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 3 cups bean sprouts
- 1 tablespoon chili flakes or powder, optional
- chili flakes
- ground peanuts
- chopped cilantro
- lemon/calamansi slices
Make the pad thai sauce
- 1. In a heavy-bottom saucepot set over medium-high heat, mix together all ingredients for the sauce. Allow the sauce to boil until it turns syrupy when stirred. It will reduce and thicken to a dark amber colour that will coat the spoon after about 10 to 15 minutes, or more. Set aside.
Prepare the noodles
- 2. Cook fettuccine according to package directions until al dente.
- 3. Meanwhile, in a nonstick wok, heat oil and saute garlic until fragrant. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add tuna into the wok, followed by the pad thai sauce. Add fried beancurd, reserving some for topping.
- 4. Pour in beaten eggs and let it sit on the mixture for a few seconds before mixing. Be careful not to let the eggs cook and scramble. You should have a creamy mixture reminiscent of carbonara white sauce, not a sauce with scrambled eggs mixed in. Finally, add the bean sprouts. Mix noodles in the wok until evenly combined. Add some chili powder or chili flakes to make it spicy, if desired.
- 5. Gently toss pasta into the sauce mixture until evenly coated, letting the noodles absorb some of the sauce for a bit.
- 6. Transfer to a platter and arrange remaining bean curd strips on top. Sprinkle with chili flakes, ground peanuts, and some chopped cilantro. Chili flakes can also be served on the side, along with slices of lemon/calamansi. Enjoy hot.
Happiness in a plate! 🙂