Pad Thai is certainly among the most popular Thai dishes and it’s always been a favorite of mine. However, making this dish is actually a lot harder than it seems. As part of our new business venture, my husband and I have been making different versions of Pad Thai for the last few weeks. After much testing, tweaking, and of course eating, I think we came up with a pretty good take on this classic Thai stir-fry (he’s been to Thailand several times and agrees).
In my opinion, the key to making great Pad Thai is to prep all your ingredients and lay them out nicely before beginning to cook, a.k.a. mis en place. Pad Thai is a quick stir-fry so you don’t want to measure out ingredients while you’re cooking. Another challenge for us was to find the perfect Thai ingredients, particularly tracking down the right tamarind concentrate. Most were either too sweet, too salty or not flavorful enough. We found one with 85% tamarind and only 15% water, nothing else in there. So try to find a similar concentration of tamarind without any extra additives. There are recipes and restaurants that use ketchup in place of tamarind, but I don’t wanna go there.
If you don’t feel like locating all of the necessary ingredients or if you’re looking for a nice gift idea, try out our Pad Thai recipe kit. The kit includes all non-perishable ingredients including the tamarind concentrate and rice noodles along with detailed instructions and optional Thai Iced Tea.
Pad Thai Noodles Recipe
8 ounces dried rice noodles
4 cloves garlic, optional
2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) fish sauce
2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) tamarind concentrate
1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground chili pepper
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, crushed or finely chopped
4 ounces palm sugar
8 ounces meat (shrimp or chicken)
8 ounces firm tofu
8 ounces bean sprouts
2 bunches scallions
Prepare all your ingredients ahead of time. Soak noodles in warm water for 30 mins. Rinse bean sprouts and scallions. Drain and cut 8 oz. of tofu and about 8 stalks of scallions (use green parts) into 1-inch long sticks. Dice garlic and cut lime into quarters. Crush or chop peanuts. Take out 4 eggs.
For the sauce, heat a small pot on medium. Mix tamarind, palm sugar, fish sauce, 1/4 cup of water and chili pepper, to taste depending on spice tolerance. Stir and crush sugar until fully dissolved and turn off heat.
When noodles are soft enough (but still slightly harder than al dente pasta), rinse them in cold water and drain. Make sure all of your ingredients are set up and divided into equal portions. Note: You’re cooking one portion at a time. Add 2 tbsp. oil to a wok or large non-stick pan. Heat on medium-high, until very hot. Add chicken (if using) and cook for 1 min, then add tofu and garlic. Cook for about 45 secs, stirring frequently. Garlic should now be brown. Stir in noodles, then add 3 tbsp. of sauce mixture. Coat noodles and meat well and stir vigorously to keep noodles from sticking. After about 2 mins, taste noodles to check if they’re soft enough. If not, add 2-3 tbsp. of water and continue to cook for a little longer.
Add shrimp (if using) and combine with noodles. Push everything aside creating an empty space in the middle. Crack an egg, wait 15 secs to set, then mix into the noodles. Sprinkle some white pepper, add bean sprouts and up to 1 tbsp. more sauce. Stir everything for 1 min, then add scallions. Turn off heat and toss. To serve, top with crushed peanuts, dried onions and a generous squeeze of lime juice.
Total Time: 15-20 minutes
Yield: makes 4 servings
buy ingredients as a recipe kit
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