Homemade Pad Thai

Homemade Pad Thai
Ⓒ Provided by Kitchn

By Perry Santanachote, Kitchn

In the late 1930s, authoritarian leaders invented pad Thai and established it as the national dish of Thailand after changing the country’s name from Siam. Ironically the dish’s main ingredient, noodles, is very much a Chinese ingredient. It’s all the other ingredients that put the Thai in pad Thai — none of which are common to other Chinese noodle dishes.

Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Thai restaurant in America that doesn’t have pad Thai on the menu, but a lot of the time, pad Thai dished up Stateside isn’t what you’d get on the streets of Bangkok. That’s because imported ingredients, such as tamarind, get prohibitively expensive for restaurants — especially ones that have to meet an expected price point (diners generally won’t pay $20 for a plate of noodles).

That’s one of the joys of being a home cook — you can make it however you want. That said, finding some of the ingredients will be the most challenging part of this recipe. But Southeast Asian groceries are abundant and available, and these pantry staples keep for a long time.

Yield: Serves 2

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

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  • 4 ounces dried rice noodles, preferably 1/8-inch wide
  • 4 ounces baked tofu, optional
  • 1 small shallot
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 ounce small dried shrimp (2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup preserved sweet radish (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 ounce garlic chives or scallions greens, plus more for garnish
  • 5 ounces mung bean sprouts (about 2 cups), plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
  • 8 ounces large uncooked shell-on shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind juice, water, or concentrate
  • 3 tablespoons chopped palm sugar or packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 lime wedges
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

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Prepare the ingredients and sauce

  • Soak 4 ounces dried rice noodles in room-temperature water until the noodles can bend without breaking, 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients and make the sauce.

  • Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Cut 4-ounces baked tofu into 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks 1-inch long. Finely chop 1 small shallot and 3 garlic cloves. Rinse 1/2 ounce (2 tablespoons) small dried shrimp and finely chop. Finely chop 1/4 cup preserved sweet radish.

  • Cut 1 ounce garlic chives or scallions into 1-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup) and place in a second medium bowl; cut more for garnish if desired. Add 5 ounces (about 2 cups) mung bean sprouts and toss to combine.

  • Finely chop 1/4 cup roasted peanuts. Peel and devein 8 ounces large raw shrimp (about 8 to 10 pieces), leaving the tails intact.

Make the sauce

  • Place 3 tablespoons tamarind juice, water, or concentrate, 3 tablespoons chopped palm sugar or packed light brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons fish sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Cook the pad Thai

  • Drain the noodles and cut into 6- to 8-inch lengths with kitchen shears.

  • Heat a wok or large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and swirl the wok to coat. Add the shrimp and cook in a single layer until the bottom halves are opaque, about 1 minute. With a metal or wood spatula, flip the shrimp and cook for another minute, until just cooked through. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.

  • Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil to the wok, increase the heat to high, and swirl to coat. Add the tofu mixture and use the spatula to toss and stir until the garlic starts to turn golden-brown, about 2 minutes.

  • Add the noodles and sauce and stir and toss until all the liquid is absorbed and the noodles are soft, about 2 minutes.

  • Make a well in the center of the noodles, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the well, and crack 2 large eggs into the oil. Scramble the eggs with the corner of the spatula until the eggs form curds, then toss them into the noodles before they fully set.

  • Add the bean sprouts and chives and toss to combine.

  • Divide the pad Thai between 2 plates, top with the shrimp, and sprinkle with the peanuts. Serve immediately with the lime wedges, more bean sprouts, garlic chives, and red pepper flakes if desired.

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Food Magazine: Homemade Pad Thai
Homemade Pad Thai
This authentic pad Thai dish is easily customizable and made using pantry ingredients.
Food Magazine
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