Here's a recipe for this staple Thai dish that duplicates the flavors you'll taste at the better Thai restaurants, as submitted to the motss-food mailing list by Brian Kane. It's but one of myriad versions you'll find sold on the street if you go to Thailand; everybody seems to have their own recipe for pad thai, but it's always recognizably pad thai (kinda like we do with gumbo in Louisiana).

Use wok or very large pan.

Soak noodles in cold water for 1 hour, drain.

Combine in a small bowl the tamarind, water, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice. Heat oil in pan until very hot. (Alternatively, you may use lots of non-stick spray, and occasionally add water if eventually the dish starts sticking to the pan.) Add minced garlic, saute for 30 sec. Add chicken, cook for 2 minutes or until done through. Still stirring, add cubed tofu and shrimp and cook for one minute more. Break eggs into pan, and let fry WITHOUT stirring for one minute. Then add noodles and stir whole mixture for one minute, so that eggs and noodles are folded up from bottom. Pour liquid from bowl and stir two minutes. Add two-thirds of the ground peanuts, stir. Add bean sprouts and scallions, stir.

Transfer to dish, and sprinkle with cayenne pepper or hot oil if desired. Serve with fresh lime wedges and the remaining ground peanuts.

Yield: 4 servings.

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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)