Homemade pad Thai brings generations together

Punctuation strikes you as handy, tidy and responsible. It’s rash to sound off without the pause inspired by the comma or the deep breath mandated by the period. Punctuation saves lives — when applied judiciously. You sigh over that panda turned criminal in “eats, shoots and leaves.”

So it comes as a surprise to learn that among members of the handheld generation, punctuation is not merely considered superfluous. It’s rude.

The text message, that endless stream of abbreviations and emojis, flows unencumbered by dot or dash. Should you insert the semicolon or period, your correspondent will blanch with humiliation. She has been scolded. Mercilessly.

Which strikes you as unduly touchy. You give up composing messages and compose instead a bowl of pad Thai, that familiar tangle of noodles punctuated by pepper and peanuts. It engenders actual conversation, which both generations find delicious. Period.

Pad Thai

Prep: 45 minutes

Cook: 5 minutes

Makes: 2 to 3 servings

4 oz. pad Thai rice noodles

6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into thin strips

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tsp. each: cornstarch, sesame oil

2 Tbsp. each: lime juice, fish sauce*

1 Tbsp. each: brown sugar, Thai chili sauce*

1/2 tsp. crushed red chili flakes

1 cup peanut oil

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 green onions, white and green, thinly sliced

1 cup thinly sliced (on the diagonal) sugar snap peas

3 Tbsp. chopped roasted peanuts

2 Tbsp. each, chopped: cilantro, basil

1 lime, cut into wedges

Soak: Settle noodles in a bowl. Douse with hot tap water. Let soak, 30 minutes. Drain; rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Marinate: Toss chicken with salt, cornstarch and sesame oil. Set aside.

Stir: Mix together lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, chili sauce and red chili flakes. Set aside.

Organize: Set a colander over a bowl and keep it handy. Find the oven mitts. Set out all ingredients, in order.

Sizzle: In a wok (or heavy skillet), heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. When it’s very hot, add chicken. Stir. Slip on mitts. When chicken turns white — about 1 minute — carefully pour chicken and oil into the colander, letting chicken drain and oil collect in the bowl.

Toss: Measure 3 tablespoons oil back into the wok. When it’s very hot, pour in egg, stirring briefly to scramble; push egg up the side of the pan. Tumble in green onions, stirring to coat with oil. Tumble in snap peas, stirring to coat with oil. Stir in noodles. Add chicken; toss everything (including egg) together.

Serve: When noodles are very hot, pull wok off heat. Pour in lime juice mixture; toss to coat. Stir in peanuts, cilantro and basil. Enjoy hot with lime wedges.

*Stocked in the Asian food aisle.

Provenance: Adapted from Big Bowl, Chicago.