The combination of soft, chewy noodles and crisp garnishes is unbeatable. The same goes for the contrasting sweet, salty and sour flavors.
Technique tip: I make my Pad Thai fairly traditional, so the noodles aren't super saucy. If you want them more like pasta, double or triple the sauce ingredients and reserve some to pass at the table, along with the other condiments.
Swap option: Make this vegan by using slivered tofu instead of the scrambled eggs.
Fish-less fish sauce (makes about 1/2 cup; optional)
- 1 tablespoon crumbled or ground dulse
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 limes
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
- 12 ounces dried flat 1/4-inch-thick rice noodles
- 5 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil, divided
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, blotted dry, sliced
- 2 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 cup bean sprouts, divided
- 2 tablespoons fish-less fish sauce (recipe above) or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons tamarind paste or ketchup
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 chiles (preferably Thai), seeded, and sliced (optional)
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
For the fish-less fish sauce:
Whisk the dulse, garlic and soy sauce with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Grate the zest of 2 of the limes into the bowl. Juice all 4 limes and add the juice. Add the sugar and stir well. Let sit at least 5 minutes for the flavors to meld.
For the pad Thai:
1. Put the noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Soak until softened, at least 15 minutes; if you want to hold them longer, drain them, fill the bowl with cold water, and return the noodles to the bowl.
2. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. When it's hot, add the eggs and scramble quickly for the first minute or so with a fork almost at against the bottom of the pan; you're aiming for a thin egg crêpe, one with the smallest curd you can make. Cook just until set, and then transfer the crêpe to a cutting board. Cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips and set aside.
3. Raise the heat to high and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. When it's is hot, add the garlic, tofu, scallions and half the bean sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic and scallions have softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate.
4. Put the drained noodles, eggs, fish-less fish sauce, tamarind paste and sugar in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are heated through. Add the tofu mixture. Toss once or twice to combine, and then transfer to a serving platter. Top with the peanuts, cilantro, chiles if you're using them, and the remaining bean sprouts. Serve with the lime wedges on the side.