Pad Thai is one of my favorite go-to dishes when ordering Asian take-out. I taste tested this dish all over town and back again and there is only one place that makes it the way I
like love it. It happens to be the place I first fell in love with Pad Thai. It didn’t matter that the ingredients were a total mystery to me… Aside from the obvious. Despite my love I have never been the least bit tempted to make it for myself until I saw Bobby Flay go head to head in a Pad Thai Challenge on his Showdown series. It was then that the Pad Thai mystery was solved and I learned exactly what went into making traditional Pad Thai. And enough useful tips that I felt confident enough to tackle it at home.
My Pad Thai recipe is made with flat rice noodles, bean sprouts, garlic, red chile, egg, shrimp and a special sauce. That’s the secret. The secret to making a really good Pad Thai. It’s in the sauce. Rather than adding the sauce ingredients separately to the wok the sauce should be made first. Made and tweaked until it’s just the way you like it. I want the sour flavor of the tamarind to dominate the sauce. The very same flavor that caused me to fall in love. Not too sweet and not too salty.
My recipe as listed tastes and looks exactly like the take-out I buy. It didn’t take much work for me to figure out the recipe. Just a little adjusting of my initial sauce and using those ‘obvious’ ingredients I mentioned earlier. I hope you love it as much as I do.
Pad Thai Sauce
1 cup frozen Tamarind Pulp, thawed, unsweetened (found in the Spanish frozen section of your market)
2 tablespoons Thai Fish Sauce*
1/3 cup Palm or Brown Sugar
In a small sauce pan combine and simmer all ingredients over low heat for five minutes. Remove a spoonful, cool and taste. Too salty or sweet? Add more tamarind. Not salty enough? Add more fish sauce – a little bit at a time. Too sour? Add more sugar – a little at a time. Heat through again.
*If you don’t like fish sauce omit and add salt – start with a 1/4 teaspoon and season to taste.
To make 2 servings of Pad Thai:
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 dried red chiles, crumbled without seeds or stems (found in the Mexican spice section of your market)
4 ounces Rice Noodles, soaked in hot tap water for a half hour (can also use Fettuccine pasta)
1 and 1/2 cups Bean Sprouts
1/2 cup water, you don’t need to use it all
Pad Thai Sauce
1/2 pound Shrimp, medium or large, cleaned and tails removed
4 tablespoons Peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons Garlic Chives or Green Onions, snipped with a kitchen scissor
Lime wedges, for serving
1. Assemble all your ingredients because the recipe moves fast, including 2 large spoons or spatulas for stirring.
2. Heat the oil in the wok or a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and chiles stirring, add the rice noodles and bean sprouts, stirring to separate the noodles, add a little bit of water if they stick together. Add 3 or 4 ladles (soup ladle) of sauce. Continue stirring until noodles looks soft and bean sprouts are wilted.
3. Move the noodles up the sides of the wok and add more oil if needed to cook the eggs. Crack them into the center and in the eggs. Push the noodles over top of the eggs and allow to cook for a minute, then stir the eggs and noodles together. Push the noodles to the sides of the wok, if using a skillet remove to a plate or bowl and set aside.
4. Add more oil if needed to cook shrimp, add shrimp and stir with 3 or 4 more ladles of sauce. Continue stirring until shrimp just start to curl and turn white. Add noodles back in and stir until everything is well combined, adding more sauce if needed.
5. Serve immediately with peanuts, garlic chives and lime wedges.