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This is the second in our reviews where we have set ourselves the task of buying all the ingredients (or at least the majority) for a meal from one local shop. We lay out the prices, what they have and hopefully promote buying from local shops in Brixton. This time the dish is Pad Thai and the place to go for all the ingredients is the Wing Tai supermarket in Electric Avenue. Pad Thai is one of those dishes where everyone has their favourite recipe – I’ve used the one on the BBC food website http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/padthai_67953 I’m not an expert but the end result is reasonably similar to the sort of thing I got at cheap local restaurants years ago when in Thailand.
Obviously the shop is Chinese selling fresh and dry goods but there’s also a fishmongers taking up a small section at the front. From the latter I’ve always found the fresh prawns good value, so 500g of these go into my Pad Thai. You order the fish there and then pay at the end with all your other purchases. There’s actually a good selection of fish, despite the limited space, from sea bream to razor clams.
The entry to the shop proper is through piles of fresh herbs and vegetables, picking up the usual garlic cloves, spring onions, a large bunch of coriander and limes as you go. Then into the main part of the shop – two long narrow aisles, with freezers in the middle and stacked shelves either side. Here you get the dried shrimps, the Thai fish sauce (nam pla), the peanuts, the bean sprouts and the chilli flakes. Then, at the end of the shop there is a frankly amazing selection of oriental style noodles. For making Pad Thai the Thai Boy Thai rice stick (bánh phó) seems the most authentic. But if you wanted a quick meal there is every conceivable size and flavour of instant noodle.
All the other ingredients, i.e. the vegetable oil, 2 eggs, tomato ketchup and brown sugar are available in the shop but this time they come from stock at home. On other occasions I’ve found the shop good for specialist items – galangal, fermented black beans, Lotus Leaf Wraps (lo mai gai) – as well as staples like rice and fresh vegetables. Particularly interesting is the wide selection of chilli oils and soy sauce. The selection is noticeably different from the common brands and prices in many of the other local shops.
The price of everything was £15.45 and that provides a good main dish for six people, with a lot of stuff left over for future meals along similar lines. Well, the recipe is quick and easy to follow; the food is full of flavours, although I must remember next time to add more chilli and coriander than suggested; everyone enjoyed the meal; and there were even some leftovers for the following day.