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Old 01-05-2013, 06:23 PM   #21
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Yep, there was probably fish sauce in the pad thai! That, tamarind paste, caramelized shallots and garlic, sugar, maybe soy sauce. Noodles, egg, sometimes tofu and/or vegs.

I love pad thai and it is my daughter's favorite food. We probably make it once every month or two (and make plenty so we have left overs). You can buy pad thai sauce at any asian grocery for $2 or so for a 9 oz jar that should be good for a batch of a few large servings. Or get your own tamarind paste/gel and prep it, and mix in sugar, fish sauce, caramelized onions/shallots/garlic to taste. We also put in some kind of "beef paste" (can't recall what it is called).

Other good dishes are various coconut curry dishes (chicken and potato usually make an appearance). Pho (noodles with meat and broth).
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:26 PM   #22
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For people who do not like fish sauce in Vietnamese or Thai food, I wonder if soy sauce would make a good substitute. And I do not believe any other Asian countries use fish sauce.

And speaking of fish sauce, do you know that Worcestershire sauce has some kind of fish sauce as an ingredient? Yes, sirree. It does not make the sauce fishy, but serves to give it a savory taste.

But on the OP's comment that he is a vegetarian, I think that would be really limiting. Being a meat eater, I like some Indian dishes, but cannot eat too much before getting bored because there's no meat!
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:35 PM   #23
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Love Thai food. Love Chinese food. Like Japanese food, too. Variety is great. Even though we live in New Orleans, and love New Orleans style food, we still choose to eat Asian food several times a month.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:40 PM   #24
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For people who do not like fish sauce in Vietnamese or Thai food, I wonder if soy sauce would make a good substitute.
It would lack that pungent flavor (close to stinky parmesan cheese in my opinion). But soy sauce would have the saltiness. So a decent substitute however you'll lack that pungent flavor tone.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:08 PM   #25
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Maybe it's Tamarind sauce? It's a souring agent that's also used to make ketchup, Worcestershire and bbq sauces.
I've made Pad Thai several times myself, and I don't remember adding fish sauce, but I definitely added tamarind! It has dried shrimp as well.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:14 PM   #26
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My very favorite Thai dish:

Thai Spicy Basil Shrimp

I enjoy it almost every Sunday for lunch at our favorite restaurant. And tomorrow is Sunday!
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:15 PM   #27
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For people who do not like fish sauce in Vietnamese or Thai food, I wonder if soy sauce would make a good substitute. And I do not believe any other Asian countries use fish sauce.

And speaking of fish sauce, do you know that Worcestershire sauce has some kind of fish sauce as an ingredient? Yes, sirree. It does not make the sauce fishy, but serves to give it a savory taste.

But on the OP's comment that he is a vegetarian, I think that would be really limiting. Being a meat eater, I like some Indian dishes, but cannot eat too much before getting bored because there's no meat!
Yep - Worcestershire sauce has anchovies, just like fish sauce.

I can't imagine soy sauce as a substitute. Totally different taste and soy is much stronger.

If you try some Thai or Vietnamese cooking at home, my Thai cooking teacher advised us students to always add the fish sauce last AFTER turning off the heat. Otherwise, the house would stink. I was always careful to do that. It was good advice - I walked into my Dad's kitchen the other day and just about fell over. I guess I never passed along that important advice.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:16 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
My very favorite Thai dish:

Thai Spicy Basil Shrimp

I enjoy it almost every Sunday for lunch at our favorite restaurant. And tomorrow is Sunday!
OMG I LOVE that basil flavor!!!! drool!

I actually had Thai Basil Shrimp for lunch yesterday, so I should calm down.

My husband had Thai Spicy Eggplant with Duck - mmmmmmmm!
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:16 PM   #29
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The attached study discusses how NY Jews began to eat Chinese food vs. other ethnic foods. I think it applies to Jews from other parts of the country but it is a study done in NY. While it could be interesting to all people, Jewish people might find it most interesting. It is on the long side but easy to read.

http://dragon.soc.qc.cuny.edu/Staff/...SAFE-TREYF.pdf
Fascinating, thanks for posting! Now I understand why some of my Jewish friends have a Christmas Day tradition of eating Chinese food, followed by a movie.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:25 PM   #30
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I don't do much Thai cooking anymore, because I gave up the large wok and implements when we moved into an RV. It just wasn't practical.

But I used to be very serious about cooking this food we loved so much. I took several classes from a great teacher in Austin. So just for you Asian food aficionados, or just if you are curious about how a given dish is made, here's my recipe booklet. There's only one Vietnamese dish (the Stir-fried Chicken with Lemongrass - a perennial family fave), the rest are all Thai dishes.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:04 PM   #31
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I've made Pad Thai several times myself, and I don't remember adding fish sauce, but I definitely added tamarind! It has dried shrimp as well.
I checked your recipe and you don't list tamarind or fish sauce, but you have an item listed as "1/2 jar satay pad thai sauce". I'm sure both are in the list of ingredients on the jar.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:18 PM   #32
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I checked your recipe and you don't list tamarind or fish sauce, but you have an item listed as "1/2 jar satay pad thai sauce". I'm sure both are in the list of ingredients on the jar.
I remember that sauce well (it's not available anymore). It was a very handy substitute rather than making the sauce from scratch. It was pretty sweet with a strong tamarind flavor, so any fish sauce flavor didn't really come through.

Pickled radish, spiced tofu, dried shrimp and tamarind (and lime if you squeezed it on like you should) are the flavors I remember dominating.

Now I'll have to go find my old class notes to see how to make that from scratch.

Yeah (from on-line) - the typical pad thai sauce is something like this:
1-ounce tamarind paste - softened in 3/4 cup boiling water and pressed through a strainer.
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

My mouth is watering!!!!!
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:31 PM   #33
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The attached study discusses how NY Jews began to eat Chinese food vs. other ethnic foods. I think it applies to Jews from other parts of the country but it is a study done in NY. While it could be interesting to all people, Jewish people might find it most interesting. It is on the long side but easy to read.

http://dragon.soc.qc.cuny.edu/Staff/...SAFE-TREYF.pdf
Interesting read! I did not know that some American Jews liked Chinese food, while at the same time showed disdain for the people serving the food. Bad, very bad! I surely hope that that was only in the past.

But one thing is certain. When I was in Israel on a work assignment, I got tired of kosher food and Middle-Eastern dishes and wanted to get some Oriental food. I had a tough time finding an Oriental restaurant. Had dinner at a half-Japanese/half-Chinese place (with Israeli cooks), and was distressed with the Oriental meal Jewish style. Then, I stumbled on a little place that made a half-decent Pad Thai (I am no expert on Thai food). I returned there for quite a few meals.

So, I do not believe Jewish people in Israel are that fond of Oriental food in general.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:35 PM   #34
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Thanks for sharing your recipes. Wow, they look great.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:23 PM   #35
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Bibimbap...just about my favorite dish in the world...

Bibimbap - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:34 PM   #36
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I never heard of bibimbap (a Korean dish), let alone tasted it.

But upon following up on the Wiki link, rediscovered the following Web page: World's 50 most delicious foods: Readers' picks | CNN Travel.

Quite a few Asian dishes there. Yep, Thai Pad thai and Tom yam goong (the spicy soup with shrimp that I did not recall the name of), and Vietnamese Pho, and Peking duck are among the list. And hamburger, and lasagna, and gelato, etc...

But get this: Kimchi too! Holy cabbage! What's going on?
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:04 PM   #37
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I like most asian foods, at least the kind that you can find in restaurants in the U.S. Where I run into problems is with some of the more exotic (sea)foods. I don't like jellyfish (tastes like rubber bands), the whole octopus head in my soup just seemed gross so I passed on that, and dog wasn't really to my taste either.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:16 PM   #38
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I can't eat spicy food so it's rather limiting. But I like Asian food in general.
If you like Chinese food, you certainly live in a good city for it.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:17 PM   #39
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My very favorite Thai dish:

Thai Spicy Basil Shrimp

I enjoy it almost every Sunday for lunch at our favorite restaurant. And tomorrow is Sunday!
That looks absolutely delicious. I might have to crash your lunch party tomorrow!
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:00 AM   #40
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I don't have any issues with fish sauce at all, we make this at home quite a bit. I was just trying to isolate what the OP finds offensive in pad thai. I'm wondering if you're really that sensitive to detecting it though, most recipes I've ever seen call for 2 Tbsp to 1/3 C of fish sauce in them. Unless they're intentionally trying to substitute removing it from the recipe.
Now I don't know whether to thank you for educating me or not. Judging from a bunch of googled recipes, it does look like most recipes call for fish sauce in amounts like what you said. It seems unlikely that all the pad Thai I've had would have that ingredient intentionally removed so I hope the taste doesn't change just because I remember what I've learned.

I know I've had a lot of Vietnamese dishes that have some "off" taste that I've attributed to fish sauce. Perhaps they use even more?
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