Welcome to 2011! I must admit that my excitement has nothing to do with the new year. See, after two and a half months, I'm finally wearing my SpongeBob SquarePants pajamas and blue striped toe socks again. In fact, I'm wiggling my individually-socked toes in sheer happiness as I sit here. Remember this?
Well, it ended up lasting longer than we expected. Much longer. Which meant that for months, my favorite pajamas and socks remained packed away. But we finally moved into our own place in the city. A real live city. With bustling traffic, an apartment the size of a small walk-in closet, and our very own ugly naked guy. And out came the pajamas and socks.
The first order of business, after finding my toe socks, of course, was unpacking our kitchen supplies but unpacking took longer than expected because of things like this:
See, the hubster and I have diametrically opposite moving styles. The first picture reflects his "I'm an engineer and I like order" style of packing. I mean really, who bubble wraps each magnet? The second picture reflects my "I just want to be done with this as soon as possible so I'll unwrap everything and hope it puts itself away" style of unpacking. Needless to say, I have an equally haphazard "throw everything in a box, slap on a vague sort of label, tape the box, and deal with the contents come opening time" style of packing.
So basically, unpacking was a bit of a comedy of errors. Every time I opened a hubster-packed box, all crazily bubble wrapped and perfectly sealed, I threatened to quit unpacking and every time the hubster opened one of my "creatively packed" boxes, he launched into yet another one of his "let me extol the virtues of packing well" lectures. There were many moments where we were on the brink of a ferocious arm wrestling match to settle the packing debate once and for all... except well, there was no room to arm wrestle.
Bottom line, unpacking the kitchen took longer than we expected. Especially once we realized the kitchen only has three drawers. Three small drawers. Needless to say, we no longer have a linen closet but rather, a kitchen overflow closet. If you're planning on coming for an overnight visit, bring your own sheets and towels because that space is currently being used by my dutch oven and cast iron skillet. Sorry.
By the time mealtime rolled around, we were ready for something comforting. And nothing says comfort like noodles. Especially noodles charred in a hot pan, edges crispy with soy and spice. Enter Pad See Ew. Now, I've eaten my fair share of Pad See Ew everywhere from sit-down Thai restaurants to standing in front of noodle carts in Thailand and every single cook has said the same thing. The secret lies in the searing hot pan. The super high flame gives you those delicious charred bits of flavors. Well here's the thing, you won't get a searing hot pan in a tiny apartment kitchen with a wonky electric stove. But you'll get a decently hot pan and if you don't move the noodles around too much, you'll get some decent flavor masquerading as charred bits.
This dish is truly a one-plate wonder. First, find some fresh rice noodles at your local Asian market. Mine sells a pound for about two bucks and I don't want to know how or why they are so ridiculously cheap. If you know why, please don't tell me. I'm perfectly happy with my ignorance. Second, grab some veggies. If you're feeling fancy, use gai lan, or Chinese broccoli. If you're feeling too tired to get fancy, use regular broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, mushrooms, or any other vegetable you have on hand. Third, find a couple of eggs. Fourth, buy a bottle of kecap manis or sweet soy sauce. I'm guessing you could use soy sauce and sugar as a substitute but I'm unwilling to mess with what I know works. Fifth, mix all your ingredients together (in stages) and revel in the deliciousness that is stir fried noodles.
Eaten in the comfort of our new place (newly free of packing boxes), the hubster and I agreed Pad See Ew is a dish fit for organized and disorganized packers alike. No arm wrestling needed.
1 16 oz. package of fresh rice noodles
2 cloves garlic, minced
Approximately three cups mixed vegetables of your choice
1 chicken breast, cut in strips
1 tb. soy sauce
1 tb. Sriracha or chili garlic sauce
4 tbs. kecap manis
2 tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. Sriracha
Salt and Pepper
Cut chicken in strips and marinate in one tablespoon soy and one tablespoon Sriracha or chili garlic sauce while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Cook chicken and remove from the pan.*
Separate rice noodles. They should be fairly pliable if fresh but if they do not separate easily, soak them in hot water for a minute. In a small bowl, mix four tablespoons kecap manis, four tablespoons soy sauce, and two tablespoons Sriracha and set aside.
Heat oil in pan. Add garlic and fry until light golden. Add vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and stir fry until tender-crisp. Move to the side of the pan. Add more oil and when hot, add the noodles. Stir fry for one minute. Pour the prepared sauce on top of the noodles and mix thoroughly. Let the noodles sit in the hot pan for a few minutes until you can smell a slight charred smell. Do not continue mixing the noodles during this stage because you want them to develop the charred flavor bits.
Once the noodles are charred around the edges, move the entire mixture to the side of the pan and scramble the eggs. Add the cooked chicken, mix thoroughly, and stir fry for one minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
*Many recipes will have you cook the chicken first and move it to the side of the pan and then add the remaining ingredients. I have found the chicken gets a bit overcooked if it's already in the pan when I'm cooking my vegetables so I cook it separately and add it at the end. You can, of course, start with cooking the chicken and leave it in the pan as you add the remaining ingredients.