I love thai food. After nearly perfecting Pad Thai a few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at Pad See Ew. Pad See Ew is far less complicated than Pad Thai– only a few ingredients– but I think a bit harder to get right. The key? Softening your wide banh pho noodles enough and the right balance of siu-dahm, also known as thick or black soy sauce. It’s thick like molasses and sweetened, giving a distinctive flavor to pad see yew– a little sweet and a little salty.
Pad See Ew is pretty easy to make. The key? A well seasoned wok, which gives you those crispy, charred bits that you get at a restaurant. Nonstick, aside from being of questionable safety, just won’t do. I bought mine from Saigon Market at Findlay Market for $14. A few tips on seasoning:
1. Use a scouring pad to clean off the coating put on the wok by the manufacturer.
2. Coat the inside with vegetable oil and put it on a burner on high. Allow it to smoke, then wipe it down. Do this 2-3 times until you get a good, brown coating on the inside.
3. Coat the inside and outside with vegetable oil, then put it in the oven for about an hour at 450. This will get a nice, even coating without dripping all over your oven.
As you use it, it will continue to get a patina that makes it non-stick. Just rinse it with water, scrub with salt if you need to to protect the seasoning.
Remember these things when doing any sort of noodle stir fry:
1. Small batches are key. It only takes a few minutes to do each batch, but it tastes much better as it allows everything to touch the wok.
2. Prep first. As Drew Vogel says, mise en place, mise en place, mise en place! It’s very important to have everything prepped so that you can work quickly and efficiently.
3. Keep that wok hot. It works best on gas heat, but I have (unfortunately) electric and as long as I keep it high, it’s good.
Pad See Yew is simple to make and only needs a few ingredients. For each (admittedly large) serving (though I cook them individually– it’s quick!):
1 package wide banh pho noodles, divided in half. These are much wider than the thin pad thai noodles. Soak these in hot water for about ten minutes (or until they’re soft) before use.
Half a bunch (about four ounces) of Chinese broccoli. You can get this at an Asian market, or you could substitute regular broccoli in a pinch. Peel the stems, slice, and use the leaves too.
1 clove of garlic, chopped
Vegetable oil (2-3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon of fish sauce (or more, to taste)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Use pork or chicken, sliced thinly– about 3 oz per serving (so 6 oz for two). You could also use tofu if you’re a vegetarian, or texturized vegetable protein. To marinate:
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
Toss this together with your protein and let it marinate for 15 minutes or so.
Heat about a tablespoon of oil in your wok, on high. Throw in your chopped chinese broccoli and stirfry until it’s bright green– just a minute or two. Remove from the wok and set it aside.
Put in a bit more oil (about a tablespoon) and toss in your softened noodles. Pour in 2 tablespoons or so of the black soy sauce and your fish sauce and stir until everything’s well coated. Let it sit for a bit on that high heat to get some charring, then toss some more. Slide those noodles onto another plate and set aside, and be sure to clean out any burnt bits before you go to the next step.
Toss in your protein and the garlic now ( both sliced thinly) and stir fry it, being sure it cooks through. If you’ve sliced thinly, this should only take a couple of minutes. Push the meat up onto the side of the wok, and crack in your egg. Scramble– this should just take a moment, and then you can add back your noodles and broccoli. I like to add a little more dark soy sauce at this point. The noodles should be soft and evenly covered with sauce. Though there’s a decent amount of oil, it shouldn’t be greasy. Plate– one “serving” is really enough for two– and enjoy.