If I’m going to make Thai noodles, nine times out of ten it’ll be a simpler spicy noodle with garlic and Chinese cabbage. But sometimes, and I’m pretty sure you’ll all agree, only Pad Thai will do, with those chewy, sticky noodles, a sweet and slightly spicy sauce, crunchy beans sprouts and peanuts, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. There’s a reason why it’s one of the world’s favorite Asian dishes.
Even just a few short years ago, the idea of making Pad Thai would have seemed overwhelming. So. Many. Ingredients. But I didn’t go on this culinary adventure to back down from food challenges. So I finally put on my big girl pants, made the rounds to the grocery store, Asian supermarket and farmer’s market, and gave it the ol’ college try.
And wow. I’m pretty sure that a large number of Thai restaurants would go out of business if more people knew just how easy it is to make Pad Thai at home. You’ll have to make a special trip to the Asian grocery store, sure, but that’s pretty much the most difficult part.
And please don’t go crazy (or get lazy) and make the very Americanized versions of this dish. Friends don’t let friends make Pad Thai with peanut butter. Tamarind is a non-negotiable ingredient. No Asian market nearby? Amazon is your friend.
While the noodles are soaking, just be sure to get all of your ingredients chopped and organized. Mise en place will make all the difference in this recipe, as it’s a quick race to the finish once the chicken is cooked.
Pad Thai Noodles
Although there are a lot of components to pad thai, you can easily prep the sauce and all of the ingredients while the rice noodles are soaking and the chicken is marinating. Once the 30 minute soak and marinade is done, the noodles come together in just minutes.
I like a mix of proteins in my pad thai, but feel free to use just shrimp, chicken or tofu if you'd like.
Yield: 4 side servings; 2 as a main dish
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
* 8 ounces dried rice noodles (banh pho)
* 4 ounces chicken, cut into strips or large chunks
* 1 Tablespoon palm sugar (can substitute light brown sugar)
* 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
* 1/4 c cup canola or another frying oil
* 4 ounces medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined
* 2 eggs, lightly beaten
* 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 4 ounces drained, firm tofu, cut into small cubes
* 1-1/2 cups bean sprouts
* 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
* 1/2 cup 1-1/2" lengths green onion
* 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
* 1 lime, cut into wedges
* 2 Tablespoons Sriracha chile sauce
* 2 Tablespoons palm sugar (can substitute light brown sugar)
* 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
* 3 Tablesoons tamarind concentrate
* 1/4 cup water
Place the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with warm water. Let soak for 30 minutes, drain and set aside. Combine the chicken, 1 Tablespoon of palm sugar and 1 Tablespoon of fish sauce and set aside for 30 minutes.
While noodles are soaking and the chicken is marinading, prep all of your ingredients and make the sauce by combining all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stirring well to combine.
Heat the oil in a wok or a very large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink. Immediately remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside in a small bowl. Add the eggs to the same oil. Let cook until partially set, and then scramble. Remove the egg to the same bowl as the shrimp.
Add the shallots and cook until they begin to turn golden. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Add the chicken and all of the marinade. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the outside of the chicken is no longer pink (it does not need to be cooked through at this stage). Add the tofu and cook for another minute.
Add the drained noodles and cook until they begin to soften and begin to brown a bit on the edges. Add the prepared sauce and bean sprouts and stir well to mix. Add the cilantro, green onion, the reserved shrimp and eggs, and half of the chopped peanuts and cook until everything is nice and hot. Remove from the heat, transfer to individual dishes and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts. Squeeze a wedge or two of lime on each serving.
Adapted from Easy Thai Cooking: 75 Family-Style Dishes You Can Prepare in Minutes by Robert Danhi