After a short hiatus, we’re back to create some more culinary magic. This time, we’re going to be making “Prison Pad Thai Son.” The use of the word “son” in the recipe’s title suggests an aggressive excitement about this dish. Let’s see if it lives up to the hype.
Before we begin, I have to let it be known that I absolutely love Pad Thai. I love it so much that I’ll eat any Pad Thai with delight, even the most boring, rubber-noodled rendition. If bad Pad Thai bears a passing resemblance to decent Pad Thai, I’m happy.
Thus, I have high hopes for this dish.
The last time we came across the word “bomb” in a jail recipe, it was when we made Bomb Chino, which, while not bad, was hardly da bomb. Here however, the inclusion of hot sauce suggests that the recipe may deliver on its bomb promise.
I did not have Frank’s hot sauce so I used Tabasco instead. I considered using Sriracha since it’s Thai, but figured that Tabasco is more likely to be found in a jail commissary. I used the same peanut butter I bought to make Correctional Cake, so the only thing I had to purchase for this recipe was the Ramen.
I smeared two hefty tablespoons of peanut butter on the bottom of my bowl. It looked like a lot and I worried that the dish might be too sweet. Hopefully the tablespoon of hot sauce will add enough zest to balance it out.
I cooked the Ramen with the chicken flavoring right in it. Through this Jail House Cooking journey, I’ve learned that I like my Ramen a bit al dente, so I added less water than the package calls for. This is a very simple recipe, and so far, the most promising.
When the Ramen was ready, I poured it over the peanut butter and hot sauce. The hot noodles caused the peanut butter to melt, making stirring a breeze. The magic combination of peanut butter and hot sauce gave the Ramen the distinctive scent of East Asian cuisine. I got excited.
Upon first taste, there is a definite, if barely detectable hint of Pad Thai. The texture of the noodles was all wrong, but there was enough flavor there that, if faced with a lack of all other options, I’d eat this when I wanted Pad Thai.
After taking a couple of bites, I couldn’t even help myself. I took a wedge of lemon and squeezed it into the noodles, and then, in a real crime against authenticity, tore up a few leaves of basil. This transformed the dish entirely. The acidity of the lemon woke up the chicken flavor of the noodles and cut the sweetness of the peanut butter. The basil–not available in jail and not entirely necessary–gave a hint of herbaceous freshness that is so tragically lacking in every jail recipe.
The Verdict: This is indeed some bomb ass prison Pad Thai, son. Considering the simplicity of the recipe and the lack of available ingredients, this is a very respectable imitation of a classic Asian dish. Though the addition of the basil may have been a stretch, the lemon, or at least lemon juice, can be purchased at some jail commissaries and should absolutely be incorporated into this recipe.
Though the recipe states that creamy peanut butter works best, I would suggest trying this with crunchy peanut butter as Pad Thai is traditionally served with crushed peanuts. A touch of crunch would add dimension to the mushy noodles.
What this really needs is a glass of nice white wine to go with it. You can’t get Sauvignon Blanc in jail, but you can still get drunk. Next, Crime Library will be taking a break from the Ramen to do the unthinkable. That’s right son, we’re making Pruno.
All dishes in this series come from this PDF Document, anonymously put together using recipes created by inmates.