Raw “Pad Thai”

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[Now, doesn't that dish just scream, "SPRING!"?]

Your hubby calls with the fabulous news that he’s been given a promotion (in this economy!), and to seal the deal, his boss has asked both of you to join him and his lovely wife for dinner.  “Nonsense!” you reply.  “Why not invite them over here, as a thank-you? I’ll cook dinner.”

Or perhaps you’re shopping at Whole Foods when your eyes meet across the leafy greens.  One look at his raven hair and chiseled chin and you’re smitten.  He approaches shyly and mutters,  “I’m sorry, I don’t usually do this, but you are so pretty I just had to ask you out to dinner.”  You counter with a smile, “Well, actually, why don’t I ask you–in?  I’d love to cook dinner for you.”**

Or maybe your best friend from childhood is coming to town and wants to meet you to catch up on old times.  She’s staying at the Hilton and invites you for drinks.  “No, no, please come to my place for dinner instead!” you insist.  “After all this time, you deserve a good home cooked meal!”

Well, dear reader, whatever the occasion that prompts you to cook for someone else, I have one small piece of advice:  now is not the time to try out a new recipe.

There are a few simple rules of dating.  One: Don’t discuss previous relationships. Two:  have two pairs of shoes by the door, so you can choose the high heels or the flats, depending on how tall your beau turns out to be. Three: never order spaghetti on a first date.  Four: the first time you cook for someone, never, EVER try out a recipe you haven’t made before.

I’m sure we’ve all had this happen at least once–we acquire a new cookbook and are immediately besotted with one of the recipes.  We just have to try it out, we decide on the spot.  Following the instructions verbatim–even reproducing the gestures of the hand model in the photos–we weave through the various steps exactly as written.  We time it with NASA-worthy precision, then throw open the oven door to find–utter catastrophe!  The result resembles a molecule-mixup from a seriously malfunctioning Star Trek replicator: misshapen, gnarly, perhaps, or charred beyond all resemblance to a foodstuff.  Or perhaps the dish looks the same as the photo in the cookbook, but one nibble reveals a taste like curdled milk served over rancid eggs.

I’ve had my share of kitchen disasters, believe me.  Over the years, I’ve learned always to create a trial run of any new recipe the week before I’m actually going to serve it (given that we’re only two people in our house, this has resulted in many a strange meal when I’m testing dishes for a crowd).  But I learned my lesson years ago.  When I was still trapped sleepwalking ensconced in my starter marriage, I decided to go all out and roast a turkey for my in-laws at Christmas (I was still eating meat in those days).  Well, even back then, I was no expert at turkey, having never made one before.

I pulled out my trusty copy of Joy of Cooking (the original, not that dreadful new edition that came out in 2006 ) and followed the instructions to a “T.”  In order to prevent the turkey from drying out, the book suggests draping a clean kitchen towel over it, then basting directly over the towel.  No problem; I didn’t even mind ruining a tea towel in honor of my in-laws.

No, the towel didn’t catch fire.  And no, I didn’t overcook the turkey, or serve it raw.  In fact, the meat itself was cooked to perfection; once I could bring myself to cut into it, the flesh was tender and moist.  There was one wee problem, however.  You see, the book didn’t stipulate that you should use a white kitchen towel.  I was a relatively new cook–what did I know?? All we had were towels that matched our then-decor, blue and green check.

Towels.  Entirely covered in little checks, alternating bright blue and vibrant, Martian green.

Yep, you guessed it.

Oh, and by the way–did you know that kitchen towel dyes are not colorfast when you baste them with turkey grease?

Needless to say (and thankfully!), no one was brave enough to consume bluish-green meat.  We ordered Swiss Chalet and made do with my tried-and-true side dishes.

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When I think of kitchen disasters, I also remember my old friend Bill.  Bill was a social butterfly who loved to throw dinner parties, and I was regularly a lucky recipient of one of those coveted invitations.  He was, generally, a great cook, and everyone relished his parties, both for the food and for his lively, witty, often hilarious sense of humor.  We often pretended we were cohorts at the Algonquin Round Table (pretty audacious, I know–especially since I was appointed the Dorothy of the group), slinging puns and sarcastic quips at each other all evening over martinis (affording me the opportunity to paraphrase one of my favorite Benchley lines one rainy night: “Let’s get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini.”).

So. . . . when Bill decided to attempt Pad Thai for the first time at a dinner party, no one blinked an eye.

Ooops. Rice noodles, as we now know, don’t cook up the same way as regular pasta.  After bobbing and boiling for 10 full minutes, Bill’s Pad Thai noodles were more like barely set Jello.  Undaunted, he threw together the veggies and sauce for the dish, and combined them with the noodle goo.  Everyone ate in respectful silence, masticating tiny mouthfuls of sweet pink mush.  Not too many quips that evening, I’ll tell you (I think our tongues were stuck to the roofs of our mouths).

I’ve never tried my hand at authentic Pad Thai, but this recipe, a raw version, is one I made at a living foods cooking class with my friend Caroline Dupont several years ago.  The dish was created by Jennifer Italiano, owner of Live Organic Café here in Toronto.  It’s one of the best raw Pad Thai recipes I’ve found–peppery with an abundance of fresh ginger and garlic, bathed in a thick, creamy sauce and boasting a mosaic of crisp, colorful veggies.  I used to make the “noodles” with a spiral slicer (which extrudes long threads of zucchini resembling spaghetti), but I now prefer to simply use a carrot peeler to generate long, thin strips that better imitate rice noodles.  (And they never turn to mush).

If you’re not fond of raw foods dishes, I think you’ll still enjoy this.  The HH remarked that it would be a great side salad with any Asian-inspired dish.  Nevertheless, he ate an entire plate, no main course required. It’s also a great base for a light dinner, and a wonderful dish to serve guests–but just not the first time they come over.

Mum, you really shouldn’t have thrown away that turkey.  We would have been happy to eat it–especially since we’re color blind!”

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**Think it’s a fantasy?  I happen to know someone to whom this happened. . . well, the first few sentences, anyway!  ;)

Last year at this time: Soy (and Sugar) Free Vegan Whipped Cream

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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Comments

  1. LOVED THIS POST!!! Seriously awesome…I love the scenarios at the top!!

    I am printing off this recipe b/c it looks A.MAZ.ING!!!

  2. Love the stories (especially the dating rules), the recipe, the new blog layout… EVERYTHING!!

  3. The turkey story is too funny! Even though no one ate your turkey, at least you have a funny Thanksgiving memory to laugh about now.

    My worst cooking mishap was the time I tried to make this carrot-potato puree. (It was supposed to be like mashed potatoes with some carrot puree mixed in to make them orange) Well at the time I didn’t realize that I should have mashed the potatoes by hand and pureed the carrots in the blender separately. Instead I threw it all in the blender and pureed away. It turned into this starchy, gelatinous goo. It was so disgusting! My boyfriend kept calling it potato boogers. All I could do was laugh.

    The raw pad thai looks fabulous. Definitely saving this recipe to use as a side dish for one of our future asian meals.

  4. Oh yes, especially the rule about not trying new recipes out on guests no matter how delicious they sound. There’s nothing like a house full of guests sitting at the table trying to eat something very weird.

    This raw dish looks beautiful and refreshing.

  5. I am so nutty at this point that I read the ingredient list and the first thought that came to mind was.. ‘hmmm i think could be great in the blender as a smoothie’.

    I have yet to have a kitchen disaster I couldn’t eat. There were definitely things I wouldn’t serve other people, but if I make it- I’ll force myself to eat it.

  6. gorgeous! I am planning on lots of raw dishes this week!

    Hilarious story about the dish towel/turkey…

  7. Aww haha I had to tell my boyfriend your turkey story. I know that I should never try out something for the first time when I cook for other people but it’s so hard to resist because there are so many recipes out there! I think it’s easier to take risks like that with baking though. Anyway that pad thai is colourful and enticing! Your food always looks so good.

  8. hilarious! i’m always way too scared to try out new recipes on guests… michael gets the brunt of my tests :) your raw pad thai sounds awesome! i’ve never had authentic pad thai either (or, really…any pad thai).

  9. I love your stories! I have had more kitchen disasters than I can even recall.

    Oh yes, and rule #2 – I have only ever needed one pair, just the heels back in the dating days; flats now that I am married and I don’t care how much shorter than my husband I am :)

    That pad thai looks awesome btw!

  10. This post is so awesome! And that dish is beautiful!

  11. Courtney says:

    The dish is so vibrant and beautiful–it sounds delicious!

    I love your turkey story–you poor thing! I once made a fake “turkey” for Thanksgiving (it was a rice pilaf mixture covered with puff pastry in the shape of a turkey, complete with “drumsticks” fashioned out of chopsticks…*what* was I thinking?!) and it was a disaster! It was edible, at least, but it looked pretty scary…not at all like a turkey! Whoops…

    Courtney

  12. i guess u really can do anything raw these days with a little creativity! i wish i ate more raw foods!

  13. Great post Ricki :) What a creative recipe. I never would have thought to include apple nor dates!

  14. i LOVE this raw recipe! t hank you so much for sharing!

  15. I think we have all had a dinner like this! You are so right, it is better to cook the tried before menu. I am going to pass this recipe on to my friend Adam who is on a RAW diet, I think he will really enjoy it :)

  16. Great advice Ricki, and beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing!

  17. WOW! That looks way too awesome… it’s on my must-try list!

  18. i laughed reading along with the mishaps, Ricki – knowing how they can, fo ‘sho! ahahhahhhahaa! i have had my fair share of kitchen craziness and really enjoyed the stories!

    your raw pad thai = beeeeeautiful! i’m gonna have to make it soon as it does scream spring, and i can’t wait to try it!

  19. Firstly, your ACD desserts are SO gorgeous, and your squash applesauce is purely brilliant!!

    and the raw pad thai… Oh. My. Goodness. You’ve created my idea of heaven on a plate… I’m in raptures…

    (Your story absolutely made my day, because the one time I made the mistake of experimenting with a new recipe for a dinner party, with troublesome results, was, indeed, when I tried to fix pad thai for the first time! :-)

  20. You’ll always be Dorthy to me! Great post- made me laugh, which is soooo lovely. This pad thai does sound yummy – fresh and delicious.
    I’m sorry, I’m still chortling over the turkey…totally sounds like something I would have done.

  21. I know the scene – I am wary of cutting a whole cake when guests come because I did it once and the cake was uncooked inside

  22. Hey Ricki!

    This is very much like a version of raw pad thai I love to make (which is very much like a version in one of Natalia’s books). Looks amazing! I cannot wait to re create it and link it on the blog :)

    Gena

  23. Yes, that DOES indeed scream spring. So colourful!

  24. Excellent story. Beautiful dish. Was wondering what the little white bits were — tofu? No! Cauliflower. Very nice.
    Actually, it screams summer to me, since most of the veggies are summer vegs. :)

  25. A blue-green turkey?! Ahhh how hilarious! I’m so glad I became a vegan by the time I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner. My mother brought a turkey with her though because she couldn’t imagine the dinner without one.

    The pad thai looks really good! I’m not a big fan of raw food, but maybe this one could turn me :)

  26. Oooooh you went purple too :) I love the beautiful colors of this dish. I hadn’t thought about raw pad thai, but this is simply fabulous! I am always waaaay too full after eating normal take out thai, but this looks like a fantastic light dinner. Great idea!

  27. so gorgeous!! and those stories were too much fun ;)

  28. FoodsthatFit,
    Thanks so much! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it if you do give it a try. :)

    VeggieGirl,
    Thanks! I’m still not sure about the banners, but what the heck. ;)

    Keirsten,
    I’ve done the potato thing too, believe it or not! But glad that you took it with a laugh–what else can one do?

    Andrea,
    Thanks! And yes, we like to be kind to our guests.

    Meghan,
    I agree–if I make it, at least I should eat it! (But not that turkey) ;)

    MeloMeals,
    Yay! Let me know what you think if you give it a try.

    Ashley,
    I’m torn that way, too–so many recipes to try, so little time!

    allularpunk,
    “Real” pad thai is one of my favorites, but as I recall, it was really complicated to make it!

    Alisa,
    That’s a good way to look at the shoe issue–I always wore flats no matter what (could never walk in heels)–but I’m relatively short anyway, so it didn’t really matter!

    Shelby,
    Thanks!

    Courtney,
    I’m amazed by your fake turkey! Who cares what it looked like–as long as it tasted good!

    Virginia,
    It’s really worth a try–makes a lovely side dish, too. :)

    Lisa,
    Wish I could take the credit, but it’s not my recipe! All of Jennifer’s stuff is really creative, though. :)

    Pearl,
    Glad you like it–thanks!

    Holler,
    Glad I could help out your friend. Let me know what he thinks!

    Hayley,
    Thanks so much!

    Sarah,
    Thanks!

    Jessy,
    Glad you like the look of it. And let me know what you think if you do try it out :)

    Astra Libris,
    Cool coincidence! What was the problem with yours??

    Shellyfish,
    Always happy to induce a laugh :) And glad to hear I’m not the only one who would have interpreted the instructions that way!

    Johanna,
    I know what you mean–been there, too!

    Gena,
    I’ve seen one of Natalia Rose’s books, but don’t remember a similar recipe–must have been in another book. Would love to know hers, too.

    Mihl,
    Glad you like the look of it! :)

    Deb,
    Yes, I guess in these parts those veggies are more abundant in summer. . .ahh, can’t wait! (I’ll have to make it again).

    Jes,
    Yep, blue-green (yuck, yuck and double yuck). But the pad thai is foolproof!

    Amy,
    It’s a nice replacement for the “real thing” once in a while. .. worth a try!

    ttfn300,
    Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed them. :)

  29. Oh wow, this looks delicious, and oh so springy!

  30. i love all those colors! beautiful dish!

  31. This looks super tasty!

    I, sometimes unfortunately, do not seem to be afraid of trying new things in order to serve them to people. No disasters so far though…

  32. Fantastic recipe! Those “noodles” look incredibly convincing.

  33. Ooh, raw pad thai sounds delicious!

    Tell me, what’s dreadful about the 2006 version of The Joy of Cooking? That’s the one I have!

  34. Funny story! My husband always has to remind me–”no new dishes for Thanksgiving or Christmas”. I can’t help it I always want to try something new, but there have been some disasters. I still try to sneak them in though.

  35. I seem to make that mistake a lot. Try new recipes on holidays or when we invite guests for dinner. Some turn out, and some I get the , “Let’s not make that again.” and a look. I least I try.
    The Pad Thai looks really good. I will have to try this ASAP.

  36. Oh my-this is truly a healthy dish.The “Raw” Pad Thai caught my attention-loved the idea of making the noodles from zucchini.

  37. Made this over the weekend. It was delicious! The family loved it! I really like the textures and the mix of veggies. The cauliflower finely chopped adda a nice crunch and texture (like peanuts) and the dressing is wonderful. This is one recipe I will use again and again.

  38. Ricki, I made a version of this tonight and it’s addictive! I can’t stop munching on it. Forcing myself to save some for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for the beautiful recipe. I’m totally making this again and featuring on my blog. :)

  39. Very nice recipe, Ricki! Thanks for sharing. :)

  40. This dish was absolutely amazing!!! The first meal after a 7 day juice detox and it was just what I needed!!!

  41. My fiance and I teamed up to prepare this for dinner last night and it was absolutely one of the best things I have ever eaten. I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this, but instead of green apple we used jicama, which turned out great, and we also added shrimp and cubed steak that we marinated in a gluten-free green curry paste. Phenomenal! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    • So glad you both enjoyed it! Your version is similar to what my honey eats when I whip up a batch for my own dinner. I think it’s a really versatile recipe, too! :) And love the jicama idea!

  42. This recipe looks amazing. I found the link on No Meat Athlete. Admittedly, I am not a raw-ist. I simply follow a “mostly vegetarian” diet and am always browsing for healthy, satisfying, colorful recipes. I cannot wait to experiment with thia recipe! I plan on using some spaghetti squash as noodles. But I won’t be omitting the cucumber noodles either. Possibly adding some fried egg. And thanks for the reminder about swapping soy sauce for Braggs Aminos. I always forget about that and I am trying to avoid soy right now :]

    • Thanks so much, MamaPanda! I hope you enjoy it. :) Just a quick note to mention that Braggs is also made of soy–just no wheat added. :)

  43. Enjoying this as I type! Another great recipe. So yummy and easy to make!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] zucchini “noodles” with a peanut sauce (kind of like Ricki’s Pad Thai, adapted for my [...]

  2. [...] I haven’t had the raw pad thai yet from Live Organic Café here in Toronto, I spotted their recipe on Ricki’s [...]

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