Someone recently asked me what Pad Thai was exactly. Short answer? Amazing, layers of flavor and heat with noodles and your choice of chicken or shrimp, or with no meat at all. Long answer? Some believe it originated as street food served in Thailand. Others believe it is a dish of Chinese decent that can take on different profiles. Some use radish. Some use coriander. Some use bean sprouts, lime and eggs. Like with many foods, I’m sure pad thai has evolved and changed depending on the area.
My Pad Thai recipe does not cut corners. If you want a “simple” or “pad thai in 10 minutes” recipe….this isn’t it. I actually enjoy spending as much time in the kitchen as possible. I love it. Chopping, cutting, mixing, flavor profiling…I love it all. In my opinion, it should not be rushed and made in 10 minutes. Good pad thai flavors take time. Any respectable restaurant you go to will have taken the time to get it right. Different restaurants also make it differently. Some use red peppers. Some use carrots. Some use cabbage. I have created a recipe with the ingredients that my family prefers.
A word on Asian markets below, under recipe.
1-2 chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced very thin2 Tbsp Tamarind Paste or Concentrate (some stores have it, but can be found at Asian markets)
2 1/2 tsp Fish Sauce (Make sure to close this tightly when you put it up – trust me)
1 1/2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp Sweet Soy Sauce (Asian markets)
1/2 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
3 Thai Peppers (red and green….or just one color is fine)
6 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 Light Soy Sauce (light in sodium)
1 Tbsp Oil
1/4 Cup onion diced
1 Carrot (use peeler to shave off about 1 cup of carrot shavings)
1 Cup snap peas
1/2 Red Bell Pepper (really thin sliced)
3 Garlic Cloves minced
1 Tbsp Cilantro
1 Box of Rice Noodles
1 Cup Bean Sprouts
In a sauce pan, make your sauce by combining Tamarind Paste, Fish Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Sweet Soy Sauce, Light Soy Sauce, Oil, Water, 1/2 the lime squeezed out, Red Pepper Flakes and 1 Thai Pepper (whole). Let it simmer 5-7 minutes. **Note….if you taste it right now, it will seem super salty and spicy. It’s ok. It will not be as salty once you combine with everything. Discard pepper.
Prepare your rice noodles as per directions on package.
Heat 1 Tbsp oil up in a wok or big pan on medium high to high heat. (You want high heat but not enough to burn everything) Pad Thai is fast. You will not be leaving your pan once you start. Saute’ onion for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic gloves and cook for another minute. Add carrots, red peppers and snap peas and cook another 2-3 minutes. Push it all to the side. Add cut up chicken and cook 5-6 minutes or until done. Push to side. Add eggs and scramble 1-2 minutes.
Add your noodles, 1/2 a cup of bean sprouts and sauce in the pan and mix. It should coat everything. If you require more salt or seasoning, you can add soy sauce or salt. It is served with a lime wedge, fresh bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and chopped peanuts on top.
Everything is optional. If you love some ingredients more than others, use more! If you don’t enjoy an item, leave it out.
**Asian markets. I LOVE Asian markets. I am mesmerized with them. Partly because I have no idea what most of it is. 🙂 You can also find many things much cheaper than the grocery store. A package of snow peas there cost me approximately $1.55 when the same amount was almost $4 in the store. You can find many of these items in an Asian market and they will last several months.**