My hubby has a certain MO when it comes to food. Over the years he has become a much more adventurous eater but for the most part he sticks to what he likes and when he likes something, he will eat it all the time. Well, not all the time but pretty darn regularly. I think of it as phase eating. There was his pizza phase, which thankfully was during his training days-before me. Currently he is in a Thai food phase. Favorite dish, Pad Thai of course. Which is alright with me, I love Pad Thai. What’s not to like? Rice noodles stir fried with shrimp, bean sprouts, onions, tofu, flavored with fish sauce, tamarind and chilis. Sweet, spicy, tangy, a flavor explosion.
After Wes came home for the umpteenth time with take out Pad Thai I decided I should try my hand at making Pad Thai. I pulled out my copy of Simple Thai Food (YES I have a Thai cookbook) and flipped to the recipe for Pad Thai. I scanned the ingredients and much to my chagrin all I had on hand was the fish sauce. Off to the market.
Tamarind paste-check, Palm sugar-check, radish-check, rice noodles-check. Grab some shrimp, bean sprouts, cilantro, limes and onions, let’s go home and make a plate of deliciousness.
There is a bit of prep to be done. Making the sauce, cutting the vegetables, shelling the shrimp and soaking the noodles. The rice noodles, like pasta come dried but you don’t need to cook it. You do need to soften the noodles though. You can either soak them in cool water for 30-40 minutes or if you are in a hurry, soak them for 3 minutes in HOT water. Drain the noodles and set them aside. Don’t leave them in the hot water for any longer as the noodles will get mushy.
Not feeling shrimp? You can use beef, chicken or pork in place of the shrimp. I used a combination of chicken and shrimp in my Pad Thai. Cut the chicken, beef or pork into bite size pieces that will cook quickly. Think stir fry. You can omit the animal protein all together for a vegetarian version.
- 4 ounces dried rice noodles (1/8 to 1/4 inch wide)
- 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 Tablespoons palm sugar, grated or 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped preserved relish*
- 2 tablespoons tiny dried shrimp, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained*
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 6 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, trimmed of visible fat and sliced into 1/4-inch thick strips or 6- 8 ounces large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 6 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into matchsticks 1" long, 1/4 inch wide
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 6 Chinese chives or green part of 3 green onions, cut into 1 inch lengths
- 2 cups bean sprouts or 1 cup bean sprouts + 1cup shredded red cabbage
- 1/3-1/2 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped
- 1 lime, cut into wedges for garnish
- Fish sauce
- Red Chile powder
- Cilantro sprigs
- Place dried noodles in room temp water and cover for 30-40 minutes until soft enough and pliable enough to wrap around finger without breaking. Drain and set aside.
- Or bring enough water to a boil to cover noodles. Place noodles in bowl and put heated water over noodles. Let stand for 3 minutes, drain and set aside.
- In small bowl, stir together sugar, tamarind, fish sauce and chili flakes. If using palm sugar make sure to crush or grate the sugar to help it dissolve. Set aside.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a flat bottom wok or large frying pan (non-stick), add noodles and stir fry for about 1 min making sure the noodles are soft and coated with the oil.
- Add sauce mixture to pan, stir fry for additional minute to coat noodles with sauce.
- Push noodles to one side of pan, add & heat remaining oil. Add shallot, garlic, radish, tofu and dried shrimp to open side of pan. Stir fry additional minute.
- Add shrimp or protein to shallot mixture side of pan and cook until the shrimp or chicken is almost cooked through 1-2 minutes.
- Clear center of pan and pour eggs in, stir the eggs similar to cooking scrambled eggs.
- Once eggs are cooked and most of moisture from noodles has evaporated, stir everything together.
- Just before removing pan from the heat, fold in half the sprouts, green onions or chives and/or cabbage. AS soon as the vegetables are mixed in remove from heat and plate.
- Garnish with remaining sprouts, peanuts, cilantro and condiments as desired. Place lime wedges on plate to squeeze on noodles.
- Serve immediately YUM