Do you ever have days or weeks where you just don’t feel like cooking?  That has been the theme of my past few weeks.  Work stress and personal life stress have left me with zero motivation to cook anything that requires more effort than opening a can/box/carton and dumping/microwaving.  I know it’s terrible, but it’s what has happened.  When I get in these moods, I eventually have to force myself to get back to cooking, even if my heart is not really in it.  My theory is that my heart will follow.  This is exactly what I did tonight, forcing myself to make something not too daunting.  And you know what?  I think I’m actually emerging from my funk.  Of course, I think Thai food will bring anyone out of any kind of funk, no matter how deep.

This recipe for Pad Thai is from a cooking class I took a while ago.  It’s really pretty simple- it can be a one-pot meal if you use rice noodles instead of spaghetti.  It’s the perfect balance of hot (crushed red pepper flakes), sweet (sugar), salty (fish sauce, soy sauce), and acidic (tamarind, lime).  The fun thing is playing around with the relative amounts of these elements to get the right flavor balance.  When I first tried my noodles tonight, the salty flavor was dominating (I was a little liberal with the soy sauce).  So I added some more hot pepper flakes and some brown sugar, and voila!  Perfection.  See, I’m emerging from my funk!  Here’s to the transformative power of Thai food!

Pad Thai

Ingredients Cost
6 oz. dried rice noodles or spaghetti $0.50
3 T. oil pantry
1 lb. chicken breast cut into small pieces $5.20
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped $0.10
1/2 c. chicken or vegetable broth $0.75
2-3 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes pantry
2 T. fish sauce pantry
2 T. soy sauce pantry
1-2 T. tamarind puree pantry
2-3 T. sugar pantry
2 eggs, beaten $0.30
2 scallions, chopped $0.20
2 c. bean sprouts $1.59
2 limes cut into wedges $1.78
1/4 c. chopped roasted peanuts $0.36
Total cost (5 servings) $10.78
  Cost per serving $2.16

Cook the spaghetti, or if using rice noodles soak in cold water for ten minutes to soften.  Drain and set aside.

Heat oil and cook chicken until no longer pink.  Add garlic and cook for a minute.  Add the noodles.  Add the chicken broth and crushed red pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and add fish sauce, soy sauce, tamarind, and sugar.  Cook until the mixture bubbles, then add the beaten eggs and cook until no longer runny.  Add the scallions and sprouts and stir to combine.

Garnish with crushed peanuts, lime wedges, and cilantro if desired.