Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Dish: Shrimp Pad Thai

You see what I did there? Get it?

So I rolled out what will hopefully be a series of posts on some of my observations of The Brazilian Way of doing things, and this post will hopefully start another series...about food! Whether it is good or bad, food is something we naturally encounter every day and where it is good or bad or different, I want to note it. Plus I really like to cook and I don't get to do that a lot around here, so this can be my outlet.

So I know Pad Thai is a bit of an unconventional way to start a blog post about food in Brazil, but I had some last night and it might have been the best Pad Thai I have had. Ever. In my life.

Quick background: Growing up with a picky eater as a mother did not lend itself to trying food from other regions of the world (except Mexico...the woman loves Mexican food like nothing you have ever seen). Thus, I didn't experience Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Indian (the list goes on) food until I was much older. I guess I feel the need to make up for lost time, because I love it now! Imagine my excitement when I found out (upon arrival because, you know, I never have any clue what we are doing at any given time until we are already doing it) that we were going to a Thai restaurant.

Part of that excitement stemmed from the prospect of having some really spicy food! One thing about Brazilian food that strikes me as odd is the lack of spiciness. I guess I assumed that all Latin/South American food would be good and spicy. #stupidamericangeneralizations. I was wrong. Before last night, I hadn't seen a pepper since I've been here. Don't get me wrong, Brazilian food is good and usually really savory with a lot of flavors...just no spice.

The restaurant is called Sawasdee -- there is one in Buzios that did really well, so they decided to bring the show to Rio (and Sao Paulo too, I think). We had a couple of small starters - a shrimp satay and some other awesome peanuty flavored chicken bite-sized piece of goodness - that were very tasty. The sauces that came with the starters were amazing - one really spicy chilli-oil and another rich peanut sauce.

For my main dish, I decided on the Royal Pad Thai for 2 reasons: (1) Even though there were descriptions in English, sometimes you just never know if, say, a green curry in Brazil is going to be what you expect it to be, and (2) I wanted to compare a little and pad thai is a dish that I know well.

I was blown away. The shrimp was cooked perfectly and there were plenty of chilli flakes to make the dish as spicy as I wanted! The peanut sauce has a really good consistency - sometimes I find that its so thin that it is totally absorbed by the rice noodles, but here it was just thick enough to be present without being overwhelming.

It really was the best pad thai I've ever had!

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