Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Peanut Noodles with Ginger Chicken Meatballs and Tamarind Sauce

I've made Pad Thai many times before and I use a recipe that doesn't really use any "traditional" ingredients. I like it and so does the family.

I came across this recipe from While he didn't give a perfect recipe for the whole dish, the idea for noodles made with peanut butter and the ginger chicken meatballs looked too good not to try. I did a little experimentation this morning with the noodles and the sauce was pretty easy to discern. Props to him for the idea.

This recipe is interesting in that I would say that the sauce is the most "traditional" I've used, but the meatballs and the noodles are absolutely NOT traditional. That being said, the noodles and meatballs are awesome, so I don't care about tradition on this one.

The only real tough ingredient to find is the tamarind. I tried to find some tamarind paste but couldn't (without a drive). I found the syrup so decided to use it and I really think it made a big difference in the sauce. It may not be easy to find in most places, but I'm sure it's available in any international market. Do yourself a favor and try to hunt it down.

Overall, this recipe is pretty easy to do but does take a little time to make. I did it on a weekday so you can too!

Let's get into it.

Peanut Noodles with Ginger Chicken Meatballs and Tamarind Sauce
(adapted from here and Alton Brown's Pad Thai sauce here)

300g AP flour
2 eggs
3 tablespoons peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1/4 cup water (give or take)

1 large chicken breast, ground (about 1 pound) (or 1 lb ground chicken)
1 large onion, diced small
1 heaping tablespoon ginger/garlic paste (You can sub 3 cloves garlic and 1 inch of ginger, minced)
4 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (you can use canned, but fresh will work better)
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
2 tablespoons tamarind syrup
2 tablespoons palm sugar (rock candy or regular sugar)
2 limes, juiced
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce (to taste)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar


Ok, so these noodles were kind of a work in progress, but I did them in the same way I've done any other homemade noodle I've ever done, so it was pretty easy to track the changes.

I started by adding the peanut butter (I only had chunky on hand, but I think smooth would work better) and eggs to the food processor.

This should be 3 Tbs of peanut butter
Give it a buzz until everything is smooth.

I didn't add the water at this point due to the experimentation, but you should go ahead and add it now.

Create a well in your flour and combine as you would for any other pasta.

Take a fork and introduce the edges into the center slowly.

Knead the dough for a minimum of 10 minutes.

You may need to add flour or water as you knead, but DO NOT add anything for at least 3 minutes. You'll be amazed at the change in consistency of the dough as you allow the flour to hydrate.

If you need water or flour, add it very slowly and knead well between additions. I used a spray bottle for my water (mine was on the dry side).

When you finish kneading, split the dough in half and let rest for 20 minutes.

Roll out each piece and cut into wide strips. 

Lay out to dry but it won't get too dry due to the amount of oil in the peanut butter. It's ok.

Wait to cook until service. 


Let's do the meatballs.

Start by getting the onions to caramelize in a non-stick pan.

I saw a trick a while back that says to cook on high heat and add some sugar and baking soda to the onions to speed up the process. While I don't always do this, when I'm in a rush it works well. (In depth explanation here)

Just sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar and a 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the onions.

It turns them a weird shade of yellow, but just let them go on high.

The edges will start to brown, just keep stirring and waiting until you get caramelization.

If you run out of liquid in the pan, add a few tablespoons of water and continue to cook until it's gone and repeat.

When the onions are finished, add the ginger/garlic paste and stir to combine.

Kill the heat and let the mixture hang out and cool.

Get the scallions cut up.

Buzz some bread in the food processor (or you can use regular breadcrumbs from a can).

Get your chicken breast reasonably trimmed of nastiness.

Make sure it's slightly frozen.

Toss into the food processor and give it a buzz.

I went pretty fine with it, but you can go with any grind you want.

Obviously you can just get ground chicken from the store, but I didn't feel like spending the money.

Add the onions, scallions, fish sauce and chicken to a bowl.

Add the breadcrumbs and salt and stir to combine. 

Mine was pretty sticky.

Lay them out on a cookie sheet in small meatballs. Mine were bigger that teaspoons, but smaller than tablespoons.

I ended up with 26.

Broil the meatballs on high for 7-10 minutes and flip and give them another 3-4 minutes.

You can use a thermometer and hit 165F on your biggest meatball if you want to avoid the guessing but try to get some color on at least one side.


When you're ready to eat, get a pot of water on the boil and prep the sauce.

Cut up the ginger and garlic as fine as you can and combine the sauce ingredients in a separate bowl (2 Ts tamarind syrup, the lime juice, 1-2 T fish sauce, 1 T rice wine vinegar).

Add the ginger and garlic to a wok-like pan with some oil.

Add the sugar (I used rock candy) as well.

Toss the noodles into the boiling water, now.

Fry for 1-2 minutes. Try not to burn the ginger and garlic.

Add the rest of the sauce.

When the rock candy (or sugar) dissolves, add a couple ladles of water from the pasta. I used two, which is about a cup give or take for me. It's not that big of a deal.

Cook until the sauce thickens a little. It will not turn into a "saucy" sauce, but the starch from the pasta water will bring everything together nicely. 3-4 minutes max.

Blurry sauce.
Drain the noodles and add them directly to the sauce.

Remove from the heat and give them a stir to combine. Don't be bashful about breaking up some of the noodles if they are long. (If you cooked your noodles ahead of time and they're cold, heat them through before serving.)

Serve the sauced noodles along with the meatballs. You could easily dress this with some bean sprouts and some Thai basil, but I didn't have any. It was still awesome like this.

I found the sauce outstanding. It was, for lack of a better word, intriguing. I wanted to eat more of it every time I had a bite. The meatballs were awesome. The sweetness of the caramelized onions and the ginger and garlic really worked well with the char I gave them in the oven. I thought the combination of the sweetness of the meatballs with the tartness of the sauce and the mild peanut favor from the noodles was perfect.

The original recipe calls for Sriracha straight in the sauce, but I left it out on account of my daughter. I added the Sriracha on my dish with a squeeze of lime and it was fantastic.

Overall, this was a supremely satisfying meal. If this was available in a restaurant, I'd order it again. It was really great.

And my daughter destroyed it.



  1. Dude, this dish looks absolutely amazing. I'll have to plan on making this in the future. I have a slight suggestion: On future recipes, if you don't mind, could you include a prep time and a cook time? Either way, I like the blog. It has a nice little star by it now. =)

  2. thanks! i appreciate you reading!

    as for the times, i could try to do something like that in the future. i do include the times for most steps, but i don't do a total time overview (obviously). it's kind of tough for me to calculate sometimes because i actually do this stuff throughout the day. a little here (go to the park), a little there (change a diaper), etc.

    if nothing else, maybe a sliding scale of "almost no time" to "nearly all day" would help. that, i could do pretty easily.


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