I think one of the hardest things to do at home is to achieve that high wok heat flavor one gets at restaurants and hawker stalls. One just can’t get that on a home gas stove top, let alone an electric one. I normally put mine at the highest heat, and pray for the best. And hope that dark char on the side of my ceramic wok will come out after a long soak.
It is not a pretty sight, my wok. Image sharing is a no-no at this point.
Back to the task at hand – Pad see ew.
My first taste of this delicious Thai hawker fare was at Vino Thai in St Charles, Illinois. The taste profile is similar to Malaysian/Penang Char Koey Teow, but milder – less heat; more sweet. What really got me though was the thick square sheets of noodles – thicker than koey teow and pad thai noodles. They reminded me of chee cheong fun sheets, but thicker. So, my significant other had to humor my restless soul with a visit to the nearby Vietnamese mart and scavenge through their aisles in hunt of the thick bahn pho noodles. We bought the dry version, and then 10 minutes on, saw the fresh ones in the fridge section. There was a choir singing in my head right there and then, I kid you not.
Fair warning. This is a slight twist on the real thing. I marinate the meat, cook it first and take them out and add them at the’ crazy toss at end’ phase. This keeps the beef tender without drying out in the end. It also helps one achieve the ‘char’. If you are looking for truly authentic pad see ew methods like in the days of yore, this isn’t the one. But it sure is a yummy version.
Pad See Ew (for 2)
Marinade for beef/chicken:
The How To:
Add oil. Sauté the minced garlic till lightly brown and add the bahn pho. Stir till it’s coated in the oil and garlic. Add the sauce ingredients and the marinade, stir for a few minutes to coat and add broccoli. Do not be afraid of it charring at the base. Charring will give it that beautiful aroma. It will add character. Keep the heat on high at all times, even when there is a part of you that cringes and think you’ll burn the house down. My method is char, scrape, stir. Char, scrape, stir. So, in essence, it is – leave in wok for a few minutes, let it char and burn at the base for a bit, scrape the yummy dark bits hard, and repeat. Mindful is the word though. Not being vigil will result in a wok of black and you can’t turn back.
Now, the amount provided for the sauce is really just a guideline. If you enjoy the dish darker and less dry, add more dark soy and light soy. It is more of a ‘taste as you go along’ method. (Do add more ingredients after you’ve achieved ‘the char’, and not before. Adding pre-char might result in soggy and minimal ‘char’.) Salt sparingly if you add more light soy and nam pla. The dish is served sweeter in Thailand, so if you like it sweeter, do the little tooth fairy swirl and drop in a teaspoon or so more.
Once the noodles have a beautiful sheen and are soft, but not mushy and the broccoli cooked yet still maintain their crisp yumminess, add in the cooked meat and give it a final toss of triumph.
And there you have it, pad see ew in the comforts of home. Don’t waste a minute of your life – eat while still piping hot.
(Serve with some thinly sliced thai green chilies drenched in a tablespoon of light soy sauce, ½ teaspoon of nam pla and a sprinkle of sugar. This is lethal heat. Consumption discretion is advised. )
Final ‘char’ note. I didn’t get heaps of char on my first attempt. Got more on my second. Life is like living in a lifelong classroom — we all learn as we go along. <3