John says: 'You must try this! Phat Thai, pronounced Pad Thai, is central Thailand’s greatest snack food. Sold in hawkers’ markets within Bangkok and in the many towns that surround it, it is never very spicy; the chillies are added at the end, usually by the consumer, sometimes along with other ingredients set out on tables. To me, the special ingredient is pickled turnip, which you can buy from Asian stores, and which gives the noodles that extra sour dimension and crunchy texture. Add the lime at the last minute. Or you can even make the dish without prawns. Any which way, I could eat Phat Thai every day, as indeed I did when travelling around Thailand.’
Feeds 6, Preparation time 25-30 minutes, Cooking time 15-20 minutes
• 600g/1 1/4lb thick flat rice noodles
• A bunch of fresh coriander with roots
• 20 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 100ml/4fl oz vegetable oil
• 20 medium fresh raw prawns, peeled
• 150g/5oz pickled turnip, drained and chopped
• 2 tbsp caster sugar
• 50ml/2fl oz concentrated cooking tamarind
• 4 eggs, beaten
• 2 tbsp oyster sauce
• 50ml/2fl oz fish sauce
• 100g/4oz beansprouts
• Juice of 1 lime
• 1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed and cut at an angle
• 100g/4oz roasted peanuts, crushed
• 3 fresh red chillies, deseeded and sliced
• Crispy fried onions, to serve (optional)
1. Soak the rice noodles in warm water for 20 minutes then drain and keep to one side.
2. Pick the leaves from the coriander and reserve. Soak and wash the coriander roots, then pound the roots and garlic together using a mortar and pestle (use the coriander stems if you have no roots, otherwise discard them).
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or deep frying pan over a high heat and when it’s shimmering, add the pounded garlic and coriander roots. Stir for a few moments then add the prawns and half the pickled turnip. Cook for 30 seconds then add the sugar and tamarind. Add the noodles and toss, then add the eggs and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes.
4. Pour in the oyster sauce and fish sauce and toss to mix, then stir-fry for 4-5 minutes. Add half the beansprouts and finally finish off with the lime juice, half the spring onions and half the peanuts.
5. Pile the noodles into a large serving dish and garnish with the remaining turnip, beansprouts, spring onion and roasted peanuts and the coriander leaves, chillies and crispy fried onions, if using.
This recipe comes from his book, Sydney to Seoul (published by Headline Home, priced £27) where John embarks on a food odyssey creating delicious recipes that combine his straightforward Aussie cooking with the fantastic flavours of the Far East.