Living in Seattle, we've got Thai food everywhere. Seriously, everywhere. In about a five mile variance of my house there are 15 Thai restaurants (I counted!), and I'm not complaining. Growing up, Thai food was my dad's all time favorite kind of food. It was a very special occasion when we would go out to dinner, but when we did, it was the local Thai restaurant near our house. You could say I hold it very close to my heart.
Pad Thai is your classic Thai fried noodle dish. It's quick, and it's so extremely easy. The hardest thing about making Pad Thai is wrangling the ingredients you need to make it like tamarind sauce, cane sugar, rice noodles, Thai preserved sweet radish, and bean sprouts (so basically almost the entire recipes haha!). I got lucky and found that most grocery stores have rice noodles in their "Asian Cuisine" section. Also saw a pre-made "Pad Thai" sauce in a jar which made me shiver a bit. All in all, most Asian/Indonesian markets have the remaining ingredients, but what you can't find there, I hate to say it, Amazon does!
This recipe has every element of a good dish. The texture of the rice noodles and the crunch of the peanuts. It's sweet, savory, has a nice cut of citrus, and ever so slight spice.
We're going to start by softening the rice noodles. Place 6 oz of noodles in a large bowl with the hottest water your tap will run. Let these sit for at least 15 minutes. If you're using fresh rice noodles, this part is not necessary. Drain the noodles and set them aside. We also need to prepare the tofu. Drain the liquid off and press all water out. If you're using extra firm tofu, it's important to remove as much moisture as you can so it can get a nice golden crisp.
Chop the vegetables and get them prepared to throw into the pan when the time comes. Chop the shallot and preserved radish finely. The green onions should be cut into about 3 inch pieces. Cut the tofu into small piece and chop the peanuts well.
In a small bowl combine the fish sauce, tamarind, and cane sugar. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. If you don't have cane sugar, feel free to use granulated white sugar as well or even honey.
Next step is cooking our protein. Most recipes use chicken and shrimp, or just chicken. For this recipe I'm just using shrimp, well, because it's my favorite. So in a large wok or in my case, a large cast iron skillet, I add about a tablespoon of peanut oil and place over high heat. You can use other variations, I just like the flavor of the peanut oil, and it's healthier. Once the pan is nice and hot and the oil is shimmering, add the shrimp and about a clove of garlic. The shrimp cook fast, so about 1 minute on each side so be fine. Remove the shrimp from the pan.
In the same pan, add another tablespoon of oil and place tofu pieces in the oil. Cook until nice and golden brown. Should take only a few minutes. We want it to be nice and browned so it doesn't break apart later in the sauce. Add the minced shallot and radish and cook until fragrant - about 1-2 minutes.
Add rice noodles and sauce we prepared. We're going to cook the noodles until they're no longer firm and the liquid from the base of the pan has evaporated. If you find that the noodles are still a little firm, add about a tablespoon of water at a time. Sometimes the noodles get a little starchy and get stuck together. If this happens add about a teaspoon of oil. The color will start to darken and it should look as it does below before moving to the next step.
Push the noodles to one side of the pan and add a teaspoon of oil to the pan for the eggs. Crack two eggs and allow them to cook for a bit before scrambling. Once the egg is about half way cooked through, using a spatula, get to scrambling those eggs.
Mix everything together. Add the beansprouts, peanuts, green onion, and red chili.
Add shrimp and plate. Serve with additional peanuts, fresh beansprouts, and I love adding a garnish of cilantro for added flavor.
6 ounces dried rice sticks
1/2 lb peel, de-veined shrimp
2 ounces pressed firm tofu, pieces
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
2 ounces sweet preserved Thai radish , finely chopped
4 ounces fresh beansprouts
3 green onions, cut in 3 inch pieces
1/3 cup peanuts, chopped
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 lime, cut in wedges
A few sprigs of cilantro
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 tablespoons cane sugar (can sub granulated white sugar as well)
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sriracha or dried Thai chili flakes
Place noodles in a large bowl with the hottest water that will run from your tap. Let soak for 15 minutes.
Prepare sauce. In a small bowl add fish sauce, cane sugar, tamarind concentrate, water, and chili. Stir until completely dissolved.
In a large wok, or large cast iron pan as I'm using, add 1 tablespoon oil and on high heat cook shrimp and one clove of minced garlic for about 1 minute on each side. Remove shrimp from the pan.
In the same pan, add another tablespoon of oil and add tofu. Cook until golden brown - about 1-2 minutes. Add in shallot and radish, cook for about another 2 minutes.
Throw the rice noodles into the pan along with the sauce we prepared. Cook until the sauce in the bottom of the pan is gone and the noodles are no longer firm. If the sauce is gone and they still need to cook longer, add an additional tablespoon of water until they're cooked. If the noodles stick together, add a teaspoon of oil.
Push the noodles to one side of the pan and add a teaspoon of oil for the eggs. Crack the eggs in the oil. Allow the eggs to cook partially before scrambling. Scramble the eggs them incorporate everything together.
Add the beansprouts, peanuts, green onions, and red chili.
Serve immediately with additional fresh beansprouts, peanuts, chili flakes, and lime wedges. I also like to garnish with fresh cilantro as well for added flavor.