As I shared earlier, slowly, Rob and I are exploring different ethnic grocers in Houston. Each weekend, we have been heading to a new place. Last weekend was a bit of a whirlwind, though.
We wanted to go to Little India but everything was closed when we were there early in the morning (yes, we are the early birds). Chinatown was our alternate choice. Since it is more of a big box store Chinatown that necessitates driving between stores, the dilemma was figuring out which grocer to hit up first. I had 3 stores starred. I picked the one that we knew was open early, the one that also happened to be the closest and the one that had great online reviews.
The parking lot was empty but we ventured in. Let’s just say it was a sad store. I picked up some snow peas and bean sprouts. We left a bit sad. I always gauge a store by the state of their produce. I was hoping for better quality produce and to be honest, much cheaper prices. Whole Foods was better priced, which doesn’t say much.
Uncertain what the rest of Chinatown would hold, we figured we would check out another grocer. The next on the list was Welcome. This time, though, the parking lot was nearly already packed for an early Saturday morning. Definitely a better sign. Their produce section was busy with so many people, snapping up the best produce, clamouring for the cases of mangos or picking the best greens. Good prices and good quality. Now I was a happy camper! Chinatown had been vindicated.
I still had the snow peas and bean sprouts which Rob and I put to good use by making pad thai. I was the sous chef as Rob made pad thai for me, complete with kelp noodles and snow peas. He slipped the fresh pad thai onto my plate. It was so pretty, I had to take a photo.
I don’t photograph many dishes twice. Especially if it is a regular in our kitchen and Rob’s signature dish, at that. But these photos turned out much better than my first post. We tinkered with the recipe only slightly, mainly by adding more tamarind. However, that’s because we had a new brand (Swad) and it doesn’t seem as potent as what we were used to (Tamicon or the blue top one). This version turned out so well though, so if you prefer things less tart, try to find this brand of tamarind. Otherwise, 3 tbsp of concentrate may be tamarind overload! :)
Do you re-photograph your pretty meals?
Snow Pea & Tofu Pad Thai
Adapted from Rob’s Vegan Pad Thai
100-200g firm tofu, pressed and chopped into small cubes
scant tsp of oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes, or red chili (to taste)
3 tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 tbsp low-sodium tamari
1/4 package kelp noodles, soaked for 5 minutes and drained (Rob uses rice stick noodles, see here for directions using those)
2 tbsp green onions, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
2 tbsp unsalted, roasted peanuts (chopped if desired, reserve some for garnish)
1/3 cup bean sprouts (not too many)
1/3 cup snow peas, trimmed
1. In a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add tofu and cook, flipping so that most of the sides are brown, cooking around 10 minutes. Add garlic and chili flakes and saute until fragrant, around 1 minute.
2. Stir in tamarind concentrate and tamari. Stir in noodles and toss to coat. Heat through. Stir in green onions and allow to brown slightly, around 1-2 minutes. Add peanuts, bean sprouts, and snow peas and heat through, another 1-2 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and top with additional green onions and peanuts. Repeat with your next serving.