For the sauce:
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
For the protein and noodles:
About ¼ cup high-temperature cooking oil
1 package (1¼ pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, trimmed and thinly sliced,
OR 1 pound peeled and deveined medium-large shrimp, tails removed
Two 8-ounce packages rice noodles (Rach likes Lotus Foods)
2 medium or 6 baby carrots, cut into thin sticks (julienne)
2 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced
2 Thai chiles, thinly sliced (optional)
1 ½ inches ginger root, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup Thai basil or basil leaves, torn or shredded
½ cup Thai mint, chopped
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced very thin on a bias
¾ cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
Lime wedges, for serving
Serves: 4 to 6
Whisk up sauce in a small bowl.
For the protein and noodles, bring 4 to 5 quarts water to boil.
Heat a large skillet over high heat with oil, 2 turns of the pan. Brown chicken or shrimp and remove to platter; chicken will take 5 minutes, shrimp 3 to 4.
Drop noodles in water, give it a stir, and cook 5 minutes, then drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water.
Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon oil. Beat egg with fork and add to pan to make a thin omelet: cover and brown bottom, then roll and slide out of pan to cool. Slice.
Meanwhile, add more oil to pan, then add carrots, shallots, toss for 2 minutes, then add the chiles, if using. Add ginger and garlic, toss. Add chicken or shrimp and the sauce, most of the basil and mint (save some for garnish), toss, add most of the scallions and toss 1 to 2 minutes more. Add noodles, toss lightly 1 to 2 minutes more, adding cooking water to loosen the sauce if needed. Gently combine the egg ribbons and bean sprouts, then top with nuts and remaining herbs and scallions to serve with lime wedges.