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Food Challenge #1

Pad See Ew in pan

Earlier this month, I posed a question to my cousins:

So I’ve been perusing food blogs of late, and one of the themes I keep
seeing is these “food challenge” type games. In them, someone picks a
challenge recipe or challenge theme, and everyone tries out the new
recipe or comes up with something to go with the theme. This seems
pretty exciting, but the problem I always have with them is the
impersonal nature of it. I was wondering if you’d be interested in
setting up one of these sorts of food networks among people we know
(including friends of yours as well; the more, the merrier!).

Tenatively, it struck me that it might be fun to do a rotating thing
where once a month, we were each responsible for picking the theme, and
then at the end of the month, had to share with each other what we chose
to make. I think a month gives us plenty of time to find a single
evening to make something, and we all have blogs available to use for
posting pictures & thoughts on the recipes.

Does this sound like something you’d be interested in doing? January’s
almost done, but I bet we could squeeze out a simple theme if we wanted!

They agreed, and I picked the theme this month: “that thing in the back of the pantry you’ve been meaning to make for way too long.”

With the move, our kitchen wasn’t really usable until about a week and a half ago, so I missed my own deadline and we made our challenge meal on Feb 1st. Oops. But we did make it, and here’s how it went.

As we unpacked the pantry, I found a big pack of rice noodle flakes that I’d been meaning to experiment with. Pad See Ew is one of my favorite things to order at a Thai restaurant. It might even be one of my favorite things to eat, period. I found a recipe online for Pad See Ew for Beginners, and Ben and I scrounged the cabinets for the ingredients.

We were missing the sweet soy sauce, so we did as the recipe suggested and thickened soy sauce on the stove with sugar. And we were missing fish sauce, so we skipped that. We also had no broccoli. So really, we just made sweet-soy noodles, which was educational enough in itself to be worthwhile.

I started off with my great non-stick pan (the really big greenpan, which is nonstick that’s safe for high heat). Mom just got us a new set since the old ones were starting to get a bit gunky, so it’s super non-stick right now. Heated it up as high as I could with a little bit of oil, and dropped the pre-soaked noodles in. They made the stickiest awful mess I have ever seen. We ended up with extra-chewy noodles that were partially cooked inside and burnt on the outside. I was depressed, but not discouraged.
Tonight, we tried again, this time a little bit wiser from experience. I put the noodles in a few at a time and then added the soy sauce. Only I added way more than I meant to, and suddenly they weren’t sticking. It seems the problem before was a lack of moisture, so by adding a lot of sauce, it fixed the problem. I tossed the rest of the noodles in with tons of sauce, and by the time we were done, I had a big pile of tasty rice noodles. I tossed some chicken in as well, and we had ourselves a decent dinner.

Will I make this again? You betcha. What I will do differently: more liquid. Instead of just sauce, I’ll make a sauce/water mixture to get even more liquid into the act. I’ll get fish sauce for the added depth of flavor. And I’m going to look for the sweet soy sauce it’s supposed to have.