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Pad Thai

A perfect balance of sweet, salty, and sour, this recipe for flavorful stir fried Pad Thai noodles makes for a quick and unique meal. 

Add your favorite protein, this quick and easy Pad Thai recipe makes this Thai street food simple to make at home! | www.CuriousCuisiniere(DISCLOSURE: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. These links are provided to help you find some of the more specialty products we mention in the recipe. If you make any purchase after clicking through one of our links, we receive a small commission from Amazon, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Curious Cuisiniere!)

Pad Thai: Classic Thai Cuisine, or Not?

The interesting thing about Pad Thai is that, for as often as we see it in Thai restaurants and think of it as the essential Thai food, it really isn’t a typical Thai dish.

It is thought that the dish originated from Chinese settlers, since noodles and stir fries play a large role in Chinese cuisine.

Even the traditional name of the dish, kway teow pad Thai, speaks to the dish’s Chinese origins.

  • Kway teow is Chinese for ‘rice noodles’.
  • Kway teow pad Thai literally means ‘Thai-style stir-fried rice noodles’.

Why would you classify a dish as Thai-style in its own country of origin?

The History of Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a fairly new dish, which exploded in popularity in the 1930’s and 40’s due to the Thai government’s push to improve the national diet and westernize the nation by instilling a national image.

Apparently, a noodle dish was just the thing to do both.

Rice noodles were inexpensive and filling, and by adding vegetables, bean sprouts and a protein, Pad Thai became a cheap and nutritious meal.

As far as creating a westernized image, the success of that goal can be seen by the number of Pad Thai restaurants you will find all over the globe. In fact, many believe that a Thai restaurant’s Pad Thai is the ultimate test of their quality.

Making Our Pad Thai Recipe At Home

With its complex flavors and perfect mix of textures, a bowl of pad Thai might seem like an intimidating dish to recreate at home. But, it is really quite a quick and easy dish to make.

If you’ve ever made Fried Rice, then you will have no problem throwing together a fantastic Pad Thai.

In fact, it could be said that the technique for making pad Thai is like a cross between making chow mein and fried rice.

While similar in technique, the flavors of Pad Thai are very different from Chinese noodle dishes, since Thai cuisine leans more to the sweet and spicy flavors of fish sauce and red chilies, often in combination with peanuts.

What really makes Pad Thai unique is the way it brings together some ingredients that are unfamiliar in many western kitchens:

  • rice noodles
  • bean sprouts
  • tamarind paste
  • fish sauce

Lets break these ingredients down a bit.

What Are Rice Noodles?

Rice noodles (banh pho) are simply noodles made of rice flour rather than wheat flour. They are translucent and have a tender, chewy texture.

Unlike traditional pasta, they only need to be soaked in warm water to re-hydrate.

What Is Fish Sauce?

Fish sauce (nam pla) has a saltiness that is similar to soy sauce, with an added depth of flavor that is uniquely its own.

It is made from fermented fish (typically anchovies) and salt. (Now, before you go running at the mention of anchovies, let me remind you that the Worcestershire sauce that you probably have taking up a corner of your pantry also includes anchovy on the list of ingredients. Just sayin’.)

Due to the fish, the sauce does have a slightly off-putting smell. But, once added to a dish or dipping sauce, it brings an incredible punch of flavor.

We have been able to find fish sauce fairly easily in the Asian section of our local grocery stores, right next to the rice noodles.

What Is Tamarind Paste?

Tamarind paste is a paste made from the fruit of the Tamarind tree.

This paste has a fruity-sour flavor with a hint of sweetness. There really is nothing like it.

Unfortunately, tamarind paste can be a bit tricky to find in some areas.

If you just so happen to live in one of those tamarind-void places. Don’t fret!

We have found that you can create a similar flavor by using a ratio of 1 part fresh lime juice, 1 part water, and roughly 1/4 part brown sugar. (So for 1/4 c of tamarind paste you would use 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, 2 Tbsp water, and 1 tsp brown sugar, mixed well.)

 

Add your favorite protein, this quick and easy Pad Thai recipe makes this Thai street food simple to make at home! | www.CuriousCuisiniere

Even though you will find some unique ingredients in this dish, there is no reason to be scared.

In fact, the delicious balance of flavors and textures in a good Pad Thai should have you running to the kitchen to create your own!

 

These quick and easy stir fried noodles are bursting with shrimp, chicken, bean sprouts, and eggs.
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Pad Thai

A perfect balance of sweet, salty, and sour, this recipe for flavorful stir fried Pad Thai noodles makes for a quick and unique meal.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Thai
Servings: 3 people
Author: Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere

Ingredients

  • ¼ lb thick rice noodles (banh pho)

For the Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp tamarind paste*
  • 1 ½ Tbsp fish sauce (can substitute soy sauce in a pinch)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili peppers

Putting It Together

  • 2 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ lb pork, chicken or tofu, uncooked, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ¼ lb shrimp, whole, shelled and veined
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 2 c bean sprouts

To Garnish

  • ¼ c peanuts, roasted, unsalted
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Cilantro or green onions, chopped

Instructions

Preparing the Ingredients

  • Place the dry noodles in a large bowl filled with warm water. Let the noodles soak for 30-40 minutes, until they are flexible, but still quite solid. (It is better to under soak them at this point rather than over soak them.) Once the noodles have soaked, drain and set them aside.
  • While your noodles are soaking prepare the rest of your ingredients. Cooking Pad Thai goes very quickly, and it is helpful to have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to be thrown into the wok.
  • Create your sauce by mixing together the tamarind paste, fish sauce, white sugar, and chili peppers. (See note below if you can’t find tamarind paste.) Every version of tamarind paste and fish sauce will taste slightly different, so taste your sauce and adjust it to your liking. The sauce should be a nice balance of sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy.

Making Pad Thai

  • Heat your oil in a large wok over high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, until lightly golden. Add the pork and shrimp and sauté until both are cooked through, 2-3 minutes.
  • Next, add the drained noodles and your prepared sauce. Toss the noodles with the sauce and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Taste the noodles for texture and add a tablespoon of water to your wok if they are still too firm and tough. (The noodles should be soft, chewy, and dry.)
  • Push everything in your wok to one side and pour in your beaten eggs. Let them cook on the bottom of the wok until nearly cooked through. Then, fold them in with the noodles.
  • Add the bean sprouts and toss them with the noodles. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Serve the Pad Thai with roasted peanuts, lime wedges, and chopped cilantro or green onions as desired.

Notes

*Tamarind paste can be difficult to find in come grocery stores. Look in Asian grocery stores or World Market.
If you can’t find tamarind paste, you can substitute 1 ½ Tbsp fresh lime juice, 1 ½ Tbsp water, and 1 tsp brown sugar, mixed well, for the 3 Tbsp tamarind paste called for in this recipe.

 


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Cheers!

 

Recipe Rating




Jim

Wednesday 19th of September 2018

Thanks so much for this recipe!! For almost a year now, I've been trying a few recipes in an attempt to learn how to make Pad Thai for my family. The first time I made it, I got CHOPPED (my nine year old is brutal). I must tell you that it hurts to get chopped in your own kitchen!! The past few attempts have been just decent, but getting better. I have a good feeling about this recipe, though. If you guys get me there, I'll be back with copious amounts of gratitude.

I'd like to ask a question though, I thought that Thai peppers were an essential ingredient. Is this not the case? Please advise.

Sarah Ozimek

Thursday 20th of September 2018

Hi Jim. We hope this recipe is a hit! We substitute crushed red pepper flakes to make this dish more easily accessible for people who don't have access to a store with Thai chilies. If you have some Thai chilies, go ahead a substitute them for the crushed red pepper, according to your family's heat preferences! Let us know how it turns out for you!

carolinescookingblog

Thursday 27th of August 2015

I remember getting a great pad Thai at a street market near where I used to work in London now and then - so delicious. Keep meaning to make it myself more, and your recipe looks tasty!

Sarah Ozimek

Friday 28th of August 2015

If you give it a try, be sure to let us know what you think!

palatablepastime

Monday 24th of August 2015

Looks so good! I like mine with those little sliced hot red peppers though. I love spicy!

Sarah Ozimek

Monday 24th of August 2015

I'm with you there! Bring on the red peppers!

Wendy, A Day in the Life on the Farm

Sunday 23rd of August 2015

This sounds like the perfect Pad Thai

Sarah Ozimek

Monday 24th of August 2015

Thanks Wendy! It is delicious :)

Renee Dobbs

Sunday 23rd of August 2015

I totally enjoy a good Pad Thai. Interesting on the history of it though. I really did think it was an old Thai dish.

Sarah Ozimek

Monday 24th of August 2015

We did too Renee! The history is so interesting!