Monday: First Attempt at Pad Thai (from a Box) (aka the “Crash Course in Cooking Prawns” Post)

photo-2On a scale of 1-10, one being “unedible failure that will make someone vomit for 24 hours” and 10 being “holy crap, ingénue, why do you not quit your day job tomorrow and open a restaurant tomorrow night,” I’d say that my first attempt at cooking Pad Thai (from a box) was a five.

photo-6Meaning, “tastes okay, thanks to the sauce from a box, but the two major components, the prawns and the noodles, are still a little off.” Translation: the prawns are overcooked little hardbodies and the noodles are a touch gummy. (I guess that’s why Thai Kitchen has this part of instructions in parens on the box: “If noodles are still too firm, add 1 tsp. of water as needed and continue to stir-fry until tender.”)

Ah well, next time.

The other challenge, the prawns. I’m not sure how I’ve made it almost three decades into life without cooking prawns “from scratch” before, meaning, buying them from the market; rinsing under cold water; and sautéing until they turn from gray to pink, which takes just a few minutes. It’s a little more than ridiculous. But I checked that one off my list tonight.


The trouble being, that when you cook full-shell prawns, that lovely little vein still runs through it. I don’t mind it all the time, but tonight, obviously up for a challenge, I decided to devein my prawns after cooking and before eating.

It is at precisely moments like these when I silently curse my late 20th century high school education in which Home Ec was but an elective that most people opted not to take. Okay, equality, I get it: Then make it compulsory for boys and girls to take both auto shop and home ec, because here I sit, navigating the beguiling act of removing prawns’ digestive tracts, clumsier than … usual.

photo-7Wins: Totally edible meal, and I have enough for leftovers for another meal. I did well with all the accoutrements, as in, sautéing the prawns with fresh minced garlic, celery, sliced red pepper (not hot enough). Also, I made the brilliant discovery that if you ever have halved peanuts that need to become crushed/minced, it’s so much easier to do it with force and the flat side of a cleaver than to actually try to chop them. And I have all my fingers left as proof.