By far one of the most well known dishes in Thailand is Pad Thai (ผัดไทย). You will find this dish in every corner as street food on the streets or in restaurants like Pad Thai Thip Samai (One of the most famous Pad Thai street food restaurants in Bangkok). Phat Thai rice noodles are typically ordered with chicken, shrimps or with tofu (for vegetarians). It is served with bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, lime, garlic chives and chili. It is easy to cook but you need to have a lot of ingredients for that. The key for this recipe is the sauce which is basically a mix of tamarind concentrate, palm sugar (or brown sugar), fish sauce and sriracha chili sauce. It gives the dish its signature tangy salty flavor with a hint of sweetness.
The key ingredients of this dish are rice noodles, eggs, tofu, tamarind juice, palm sugar, fish sauce, fresh shrimps, dried shrimps, bean sprouts, garlic, shallots, red chili, lime, and peanuts. Many of the ingredients are provided on the side as condiments, such as lime wedges, roasted peanuts, bean sprouts, spring onions and other fresh vegetables.
Pad thai not only tastes delicious but also looks attractive. When in Thailand, one should not miss out in this absolute tasty dish.
4 oz (115g) dry rice noodles soak in room temperature water for an hour
2 tbsp chopped dried shrimp (medium sized)
3 cloves chopped garlic
¼ cup roughly chopped shallots
85 g pressed tofu (cut into small pieces)
3 tbsp finely chopped sweet preserved daikon radish or Takuan
Dried chili flakes (optional)
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
Medium sized shrimps (as many as you want)
2 ½ cups bean sprouts (loosely packed)
10 stems garlic shives, cut into 3-4cm pieces
¼ cup roughly chopped roasted peanuts
For Garnishing: chili flakes, roasted peanuts, bean sprouts, and garlic shives
How to make Pad Thai Sauce:
Add palm sugar to a pot and melt over medium heat with a bit of oil. Keep stirring until it darkens in color (brown). As soon as the sugar darkens in color, add water, fish sauce, and tamarind paste. Sugar will harden which is fine.
Bring sauce to a simmer and turn off the heat. The hardened sugar will not dissolve at this point. Let it sit until you prepare the noodles. But do check that the hardened sugar has dissolved before you set it aside.
How to prepare Pad Thai Noodles:
Drain the noodles and cut them into half. This makes them easier to toss and separate them in the wok.
In a bowl, mix tofu, garlics, shallots, preserved radish, dried shrimps, and chili flakes.
Heat a wok or a large non-stick skillet over a medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the wok or the skillet. Sear the shrimps until they are cooked and remove them from the pan.
In the same wok or skillet, add a little more oil and add the tofu mixture (step 1). Sauté, over a medium heat, until the garlics turn golden in color and the shallots are wilted. If the wok looks dry, you can add more oil to it.
Turn the heat up to high. Add the noodles and the already prepared sauce. Keep tossing until all the sauce is absorbed.
Once the sauce is absorbed, turn off the heat and check if the noodles are done. If its still not cooked completely, add a little amount of water and continue cooking. But be careful while adding the water. Do not add a lot of water.
Once the noodles are done, push them to one side of the pan. Add extra oil to the empty space of the pan and add eggs. Break yolks and put the noodles on top of the eggs. Cook for about a minute. Flip and toss to mix the eggs into the noodles.
Add the shrimps (save some for plating), bean sprouts, garlic, shives, and half of the peanuts. Turn off the heat and toss to mix well.
Squeeze a bit of lime on top of the noodles.
Add a lemon wedge, peanuts and a few shrimps on top of the noodles. For a classic presentation, you can add a little bean sprouts and some garlic shives. Serve it hot!
You can use chicken or beef in place of shrimps or only tofu if you are vegetarian. Marinate them with a little soy sauce or fish sauce.
I recommend to not cook more than 3 servings at a time because a large amount of noodles will steam too much and become mushy.
The sweet preserved radish is made from daikon radish. It might be difficult to find this ingredient unless you know a well-stocked Thai grocery store. Refer to the picture below to see how a daikon radish looks like.