A Recipe for Pad Thai
Serves 4-5. If you don't have a large wok and a high flame on your stove, you may need to halve this recipe.
- 14 oz rice noodles (Size "S"; thin strips)
- 8 oz fried tofu (you can also add cooked shrimp, chicken, or any other form of protein you want. I use 1/4 lb shrimp and 1 chicken leg/thigh)
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2/3 cup chopped peanuts
- 12 garlic chives, bottoms cut off
- 2 cups mung bean sprouts (the thick ones)
- 1/4 c diced garlic, chopped fine
- 1/2 c hua chai po wan (sweet preserved turnip -- หัวไชโป้วหวาน) (boiled for 2 min then chopped, or buy it sliced into thin strips)
1/3 c vegetable oil (the more you use, the better the noodles turn out )
- 1 lime cut into wedges for garnish
- cayenne pepper or ground dried Thai chilies to sprinkle on top
Plus the sauce, which is:
- 7 Tbsp palm, turbinado, brown, or other unrefined sugar (palm sugar is the traditional ingredient)
- 7 Tbsp tamarind concentrate or a prune-sized piece of tamarind paste dissolved in minimal water
- 5 Tbsp rice vinegar
6 Tbsp fish sauce + 1 1/4 tsp salt or 3 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce to make it vegetarian
First thing is to soak the rice noodles. Use the thin, flat, dried ones. Soak the noodles for 10-20 minutes in warm water. If you do this when you start, you can just put the bowl with soaking noodles aside and they will be ready for cooking by the time the prep is finished.
Make the sauce in a bowl by mixing all the ingredients well. The sauce should be a nice balance between sweet (the sugar) and tangy (the tamarind and vinegar). If it is too sweet, add more tamarind or vinegar; if it is too tangy, add more sugar.
If you are using meat, brown it in a pan. I cut the chicken into pieces and cook until it starts to brown, then add the shrimp and cook until both are done. It doesn't really get cooked much more once added to the noodles later, so now's your chance.
Before starting the final cooking, ensure the noodles are soft (they will be flexible but still somewhat hard to the tooth). Drain in a colander.
Heat the oil in a wok or wide, deep frying pan over high heat. Fry the garlic till brown, then add the beaten egg and scramble. Throw in 1/2 the bean sprouts, the preserved turnip and half the garlic chives and fry for about 5 seconds, then add the noodles. Fry the noodles, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, or until done (they are done when they are soft and tender). Add the the tofu or meat in the last 30 seconds of cooking. Once the noodles are done, pour the sauce over the noodles, add the other half of the garlic chives, and stir till combined and the noodles are coated evenly, then remove from heat. The garlic chives should remain almost raw. Garnish with the bean sprouts and peanuts. Sprinkle some chili on top, to taste. Serve with a little spoonful of brown sugar and a lime wedge on each plate.