- 3-4 cups soaked dry medium rice stick noodles, or fresh
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons bottled tamarind paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons high-temperature cooking oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons packaged shredded sweetened radish
- 1 teaspoon dried shrimp
- 1/2 cup savory baked tofu, cut into slices
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup thin strips of chicken breast or thigh
- 10 medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon paprika, for color
- 3 scallions, cut into 3-inch matchsticks
- 1/4 cup chopped dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, divided
- 1 cup bean sprouts
The most famous Thai dish in America! Making a good pad thai takes time. There's a delicate dance with the noodles because they cook in three stages. First you soak them in warm water, and they begin to absorb and soften. They first get pan-fried with all the ingredients. Be patient at this stage. Allow them to begin to yield and marry with the hot oil and other ingredients. Once they look soft enough to eat right out of the pan but slightly al dente, add the sauce to finish the cooking.
My family was among the first to introduce this dish to America nearly 50 years ago and the American version differs slightly from the native one. The super bright orange was accentuated with paprika instead of the traditional addition of chile paste to give it a slight tint. And we typically finish this dish with garlic chives vs. green onions. I always say pad thai is like pancakes. You'll burn a few before you get the knack for it.
For the noodles:
If you're using dry noodles, soak them in a large bowl of warm water for about an hour. The water should be about 90 F. The noodles will start to absorb water and loosen up. Drain them well (reserve this soaking water to adjust the texture later) and set aside. If you're using fresh noodles, you can just open the package and add them to the pan at the appropriate time.
For the sauce:
Combine the fish sauce, tamarind paste, lime juice, vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Make sure to stir well until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
For the pad thai:1.
Heat a wok or skillet over high heat for about 1 minute, until hot. Add the oil and swirl it to coat the pan completely. When you see wisps of white smoke, add the garlic and stir-fry for about 5 seconds. Add the radish, dried shrimp and tofu and stir-fry until they begin to get fragrant, about 1 minute.2.
Push the ingredients in the wok to one side and let the oil settle in the center of the pan. Crack eggs into the pan and add the chicken. As the eggs start to fry, just pierce the yolks to let them ooze. Fold the chicken and eggs over, scrape any bits that are starting to stick and cook for about 30 seconds or until the eggs begin to set. Now stir everything together to combine it all in the pan.3.
Add the shrimp and cook for about 30 seconds, until they just start to turn color and opaque. Add the soaked (and drained) rice noodles and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until they become soft. Add the reserved sauce mixture and the paprika and fold together until the paprika evenly colors the noodles and all of the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes.4.
Place the scallions in the center of the noodles, and then spoon some of the noodles over the scallions to cover and let steam for 30 seconds. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the peanuts. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with the bean sprouts and remaining peanuts.