Chances are you’ve eaten Pad Thai at least once in your life. For the longest time it was always my go-to dish to order when out to eat at a Thai restaurant. I find it’s always hit or miss. Sometimes you luck out with a really well seasoned, fried to perfection dish, and sometimes you get a soggy, bland mess. After a while, spending $15 to take a chance on someone else’s cooking may not be worth the gamble.
You can make your own authentic pad thai at home for a fraction of the cost, flavored the way you like it. This recipe is really about technique. Once you master it, you’ll never want to order pad thai again.
What I love about this recipe is how quickly it comes together. The initial prep is what takes the longest. While you’re waiting for your noodles and tamarind to soak, you can start chopping vegetables and juicing limes to save on time. You may also notice a few not so typical ingredients in this recipe, like shitake mushrooms and peanut butter instead of crushed peanuts. What can I say? I like to make my own rules.
- 250 g Rice Noodles soaked in lukewarm water
- 75 g Tamarind Paste about ½ cup
- ¾ cup Hot Water
- ⅓ cup Peanut Butter 100% peanuts, no additives
- 3 Tbsp Fish Sauce *see note
- 2 Tbsp Lime Juice about 1 Lime
- 1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Sugar
- 1 tsp Chili Flakes
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
- ½ cup Vegetable Oil
- 2 tsp minced Garlic
- 2 Eggs
- ½ cup Shitake Mushrooms sliceed (optional)
- ¼ pack fried Tofu
- 2 cups Bean Sprouts
- ¼ cup Green Onion cut fine
- Cilantro for garnish
Soak the noodles in enough warm water to cover them for at least 30 minutes.
Combine the 3/4 cup hot water and the tamarind paste in a bowl an let sit for 20-30 minutes.
Cut your tofu into 1" cubes. If you can't find fried tofu, you can use firm tofu in its place. If that's the case, you can bake it now for 10 minutes at 350°F with a splash of oil and salt.
Return to the tamarind mixture. Mash the tamarind paste into the water with a fork for 1-2 minutes. Strain through a sieve into another bowl, forcing as much of the paste through as you can. Scrape the bottom of the sieve, making sure to get every bit of paste into the bowl. Discard the solid bits leftover.
Add the fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, peanut butter and coconut sugar to the tamarind mix and whisk together. This will be your sauce.
Heat the 1/2 cup of oil in a wok or large frying pan until very hot. Add the garlic, stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tofu, cook and stir for 60 more seconds. Crack the eggs into the pan, let them sit for a minute, without stirring at all.
Drain the noodles in a colander quickly, then add to the wok, and stir for 60 seconds. Make sure nothing is sticking on the bottom. Stir from the the bottom up. Add the mushrooms, tamarind sauce, chili flakes and salt, and continue cooking for 2 more minutes.
Add the bean sprouts and green onion and fry for 30-60 more seconds, then remove from heat.
Season if necessary and transfer to plates, topping with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.
*You can substitute soy sauce if you don't like/can't find fish sauce.
**You can also add 10-12 shrimp, or 1 cup cooked, sliced chicken in place of the tofu.