Pad Thai is a fragrant noodle dish that is versatile and incredibly delicious. When you learn to make it at home you can customize it with tofu, chicken, shrimp, or meat, and you’ll never have to be a slave to take-out again!
I had no idea that this hipster staple is actually an authentic and historic Thai dish, and one of Thailand’s national foods. It has such a contemporary vibe that I just assumed it was a modern invention. I can appreciate its nuances more now that I’ve made it for myself. The rice noodles have a wonderful lightness, the bean sprouts give it a great crunch, and the flavors really pop. This recipe makes a large amount of Pad Thai, so you can have it for dinner and then snack on it a few more times during the week, hot or cold.
Gluten free Asian style rice noodles are even easier to deal with than traditional pasta. All you need to do is soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes and then drain them. They stir fry up quickly with the rest of the ingredients.
The main flavors of Pad Thai include crushed peanuts, lime, hot chili, fish sauce, cilantro and tamarind paste. In Thailand you’d also find a few more exotic ingredients like banana flower and preserved turnip, but this has plenty of flavor without them. There is usually egg, shrimp or chicken, and tofu. It’s naturally gluten free, and can easily be vegetarian if you want. I never realized how healthy this dish was until I made it myself, it has little fat and contains most of the food groups.
Making it yourself allows you to pump up what you like, and leave out what you don’t. I always crave more peanuts, so I loaded up on those. I’m allergic to shrimp, so I used chicken, and I love being able to control the quality of the meat.
- Juice of 1 large or 2 small limes(about 1/4 cup)
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp tamarind paste
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 dried and crushed chili pepper, seeds too
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 8 oz rice noodles, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and then drained
- 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in bite sized pieces
- 6 oz extra firm tofu, cut in bite sized pieces
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup crushed roasted peanuts (plus more for garnish)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 6 scallions, sliced
- Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
- Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a wok or large frying pan. Saute the garlic and shallot for a minute, then add the chicken and tofu. Cook, stirring, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove to a plate.
- Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil in the pan, and scramble the eggs, stirring to evenly cook them.
- Add the sauce and the noodles, stirring and tossing to combine well. Add the chicken etc back in, along with the bean sprouts, peanuts, cilantro and scallions. Toss well, heat through, and serve with lime wedges and garnished with crushed peanuts.
My husband and I both agreed that this was fantastic—it’s going to become a regular for us.