Considered the national dish of Thailand, Pad Thai is a favorite among many because it hits so many of the basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty and umami, pronounced “ooh-ma-mee” (I know, it’s fun to say). Umami is known as one of the five basic senses, savory. I think of it as more of a mouth-feel and a deepness of flavor. You can find a variety of different Pad Thai dishes that include chicken, beef, and seafood, but the main ingredients remain the same: noodles, palm sugar/brown sugar (sweet), tamarind/lime juice (sour), fish sauce/soy sauce (salty/umami) and chili pepper (spicy).
When I think of my Jewish heritage, I think of a good, braised brisket. Brisket is that cut of beef that just works so well as a canvas to take on whatever flavors you add to it. Since Pad Thai has been made with beef, why not add a little Jewishness to it? I made this on a weeknight for dinner, so I didn’t have the time to dedicate for a proper braise, but I did the next best thing: I used my crockpot. If you don’t have one, you can wrap the brisket and marinade in foil tightly and cook it at 350F for approximately 3 hours, or until it is fork tender (that is, piercing it with a fork, and it slides out easily).
Pad Thai almost always has scrambled egg in it. I omitted it, since my youngest daughter has a mild allergy, but I encourage you to try that. In fact, add whatever vegetables you like. Essentially, it is the main ingredients that give this the ultimate flavor! There is a pleasant chewiness to the brisket that works so well against the noodles and the sauce; it’s like a party in your mouth! Make it for Shabbat and wow your guests. I am sure this would even be delicious at room temperature.
I like to think of recipes like this separated into different parts: your marinade and your brisket, the base which contains the noodles and vegetables, and the sauce to tie it together. Garnishes help to enhance the dish and bring more texture. I wrote out the recipe in this manner to make it easier.
For the brisket:
1 small second cut brisket (1-2 lbs)
½ tsp red curry powder
1 Tbsp minced ginger
5 garlic cloves, smashed
4 scallions (white parts only, reserve green parts) sliced lengthwise, and smashed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup cold water
For the pad thai:
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
4 scallions (green parts) sliced on a bias
¼ red pepper, 1-inch julienne
1 cup green beans, sliced in thin rounds
2 bundles (half a box) of brown rice noodles, cooked according to box directions
1-2 eggs (optional)
For the sauce:
⅓ cup brown sugar
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
⅛ cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp fish sauce ( or liquid aminos)
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
juice of 1/2 lime
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup raw, unsalted peanuts, rough chopped
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
To make the brisket: Mix together curry powder, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, olive oil and water and pour over brisket. Place garlic cloves inside slits of meat. Marinade overnight, or at least 2 hours.
Place the fat facing down directly in a crockpot vessel if using. (I set my crockpot for 10 hours.) You can also wrap brisket and marinade tightly in foil and place on a sheet pan for about 3 hours in the oven at 350F, or until fork tender.
Let cool and shred. Reserve for when assembling the Pad Thai.
To make the pad thai, combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large pan, over low heat, saute ginger and garlic in olive oil until soft and fragrant. If adding eggs, scramble in a separate cup and pour into the pan, stirring continuously until they start to come together, about 20 seconds (they will continue to cook). Add the scallions, carrot and red pepper on high heat and cook for 2 minutes.
Add green beans and stir while cooking for approximately one minute and immediately add the reserved shredded brisket and combine well.
Add the cooked noodles and the sauce ingredients and combine thoroughly.
The sauce should slightly thicken, but keep in mind that the noodles will absorb more sauce as it sits, so a little looser is good for re-warming.
Once everything is warmed through, it is ready to garnish and serve with cilantro, peanuts and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.