Everyone loves chicken pad thai, Thailand's deliciously spicy noodle dish. The noodles used are rice sticks, which, besides being delightfully chewy, are gluten-free (for those allergic to it) and "cooked" simply by soaking. My version is easier to make than many others — I've eliminated the traditional tamarind, which is hard to find and fussy to prepare — but nothing is lost in the flavor department, I promise. I include the traditional scrambled eggs, but you can omit them, if you like. You'll still have a wonderfully satisfying dish.
*Note: To slice the red pepper easily, first cut away both ends. Cut downward into the pepper on one long side and "peel" away its flesh by rolling the pepper while you cut. You'll have separated the useable part of the pepper from its core and seeds. Halve the useable part, stack the halves, and slice lengthwise.
**Note: The noodle soaking method here, which uses hot water, is fairly quick. But, if you have more time, soak them in room-temperature water for about 2 hours.
Whichever method you choose, you're aiming for noodles that are soft but not mushy, as the noodles will continue to cook when heated through before serving.
To Drink: A riesling, like S.A. Prum, from Germany
Place the noodles in a medium-sized bowl and fill it with hot water to cover. Soak until pliable but not completely soft, 10-15 minutes.** Drain and set aside.
Season the chicken with salt and black pepper, to taste. Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and stir-fry until brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
Return the wok to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat. When the oil is hot, add the lemongrass, onion, and jalapeño. Stir-fry until the onion is soft, about 1 minute. Push the mixture to one side of the wok, drizzle in the remaining oil, and add the eggs. Stir-fry, breaking up the eggs, until cooked through, about 30 seconds. When the eggs are set, stir to incorporate the onion mixture.
Return the chicken to the pan, add the bell pepper, and stir. Add the fish sauce, lemon zest and juice, and noodles. Stir and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste, transfer to a serving platter or plates, and serve.