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Phat thai wasn't on Andy Ricker's original menu at his Portland restaurant, Pok Pok, nor was it on much later iterations of the menu, despite frequent requests. He gradually introduced the dish as a late night special at his bar, Whiskey Soda Lounge, but it wasn't until he opened a noodle shop in New York that he fully embraced the public's demand for a serious plate of Thai fried noodles. Ricker's recipe in his new Pok Pok cookbook is a version of the dish he serves in New York. Even though it has a long, somewhat chaotic ingredient list, the final dish is subtle and almost delicate.
Why I picked this recipe: Ricker is so picky about the way he prepares each of his dishes, so I knew his phat thai would be a standout.
What worked: The sweet and sour undertones of the sauce don't overpower the tofu or shrimp, instead blending harmoniously with the understated proteins.
What didn't: Nothing.
Suggested tweaks: You could make this with all shrimp or all tofu if you'd like, or swap them out for another quick-cooking protein. You'll need to make a trip to an Asian market for the dried shrimp, tamarind, and palm sugar. If you want to serve more than one diner, you can double the ingredients, but you'll need to cook each serving in its own batch so as not to crowd the pan.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. Follow her @KateHWiliams.