I’ve come to realize lately that many of my food-related stories start with “Back when I lived in DC…” and with good reason. After college, I truly relished any chance to make or try new foods. Many evenings after work were spent at local eateries with friends, enjoying drinks and tasty eats. And if we weren’t out, I was almost always cooking with my roommates. Even back then, before paleo and the blog were the focus of my life, cooking and eating was a core activity for me. One of the dishes I was introduced to and came to love during my years in DC was Pad Thai. Now, from what I understand, this dish can vary quite a bit from place to place. It is usually made with shrimp, tofu, or chicken – and my favorite way to have it is with chicken. I’ve been telling Hayley for a long time that I wanted to try my hand at making a paleo version of Pad Thai, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember how I made it when I lived in DC. That was when it occurred to me that I had actually never made it! (haha, oops!) But instead, we always got it from a place in Old Town called Mai Thai. I remember it being one of my favorite indulgences when I lived there.
This recipe is based off of my recollections of the Pad Thai I used to eat when I lived in DC. In the process of developing this recipe, I also referred to a few other pad thai recipes to make sure I was remembering all the core ingredients. No surprises there, so I got cooking with Hayley. I knew I wanted to use yellow squash for the noodles, because the color and flavor would both jive with how I wanted the dish to look and taste. Hayley suggested steaming the squash so that the liquid would be released in the pot, and not muddy the stir fry in the wok. She’s quite a clever cook! We also wanted to use some delicious Meenut Butter that we had on hand. Now, almond butter will work in this recipe too, but the Meenut Butter is so smooth and delicious that it was a perfect fit. Mee originally sent us a jar to try and create a recipe, but we destroyed that jar in about 24 hours. Oops! Then we decided to buy two more jars on our own dime because we loved it so much, and really did want to cook with it! This recipe utilized the very last remaining bit of the second jar. I figured it was “now or never”. If you haven’t given it a try yet, head over to her site and show her some love by ordering yourself a jar or two!
Paleo Pad Thai isn't all that far off from the "real thing". In our version, you'll julienne yellow squash and use it as the noodles.
- 2 2 Chicken Breast, Skinless , cubed
- 4 4 Yellow Squash, Julienned with julienne peeler
- 1/4 cup 1/4 cup Almond Butter, (We used Meenut Butter)
- 1 Tbsp 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- 3 clove 3 clove Garlic, minced
- 1 sprig 1 sprig Shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup 1/2 cup Coconut Aminos
- 1/4 tsp 1/4 tsp Fish Sauce
- 1 1 Lime, 1/2 for juice, remaining half cut into wedges for garnish
- 1 tsp 1 tsp Salt, to taste
- 1/3 cup 1/3 cup Macadamia Nuts, raw, chopped, reserve some for garnish
- 1/8 cup 1/8 cup Cilantro, for garnish
- 1 tsp 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes, (optional)
- Peel yellow squash using a julienne peeler or spiral slicer.
- Place julienned squash into a steamer basket, and steam for approximately 5-8 minutes. Remove the "noodles" before they get too soft.
- Heat a wok to high heat. While the wok is heating, cut the chicken breasts into small bite-sized cubes.
- Mix Almond Butter (ideally, Meenut Butter) with coconut aminos, fish sauce, juice of 1/2 lime, and salt.
- When wok is very hot, add sesame oil. Add cubed chicken and stir fry chicken until cooked (should be opaque and white.
- Add in minced shallot, minced garlic, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Continue to stir fry for 1 minute.
- Add chopped macadamia nuts and continue to stir fry for 2 minutes.
- Pour in the sauce mixture, toss until evenly coated.
- Reduce heat, and gently toss with yellow squash noodles.
- Serve Pad Thai garnished with cilantro, chopped macadamia nuts, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Be sure not to over-steam the yellow squash noodles for this recipe. They will be later added to a hot wok and continue to cook a little.