I LOVE Pad Thai!
When we first researched Pad Thai recipes, we knew we wanted it to be as authentic as possible at home.
One night, Mr. Wonderful and I were watching a travel show, and witnessed a little old lady on the streets of Thailand whipping up some Pad Thai in a makeshift wok set atop some bricks on the curb. We knew we had our recipe and furiously scribbled it down.
(Watch us make Pad Thai on Rise & Shine by clicking Play below!)
We’ve made this dish so many times at home now, and often with a houseful of friends and family that I feel I am bringing you the best possible rendition along with photos and even a really cool video to show you the recipe!
Never heard of Pad Thai?
I hadn’t either until Mr. Wonderful got me hooked on Thai food. In Thai, “Pad Thai” basically means stir-fried noodles. Interesting Pad Thai FAQ – it’s origin is not in Thailand but Vietnam. Most think it was brought to Thailand by Vietnamese Traders early on and tweaked a bit with Thai flavors. Wherever it originated, I love it.
Pad Thai is a great starter dish if you haven’t tried Thai food. Most people will experiment and appreciate Pad Thai, while the more finicky ones won’t eat the curries or more exotic dishes.
Pad Thai can be found being whipped up by street vendors mostly in Thailand, and consists of stir-fried noodles, tofu, and chicken or shrimp tossed with a sauce that’s a little sour, a little sweet, and depending on how hot you like things, a little kick of heat. It’s served topped with a squeeze of lime, some chopped peanuts and a sprinkle of cilantro. Take my word for it -this dish is such a kick up from chicken and noodles.
And it’s a great party food. Prep ahead of time and have your “mise en place” or your little bowls full of prepped ingredients alongside your wok, and it’s fun and fabulous! Let everyone person stir fry up their own and it’s entertainment at its best!
Watch the video below to see the Pad Thai process! (Video by Brettley Ruggles)
So, let’s get cooking shall we?
The most important thing to remember when making Pad Thai is do your prep-work ahead of time.
The cooking is done very quickly and if you don’t have it all laid out before you, your noodles will overcook and become mushy. I recommend watching the video above to see just how quickly things go!
Let me show you the prep-work.
DISCLAIMER!!! Mr. Wonderful is what you’d call the “guest photographer/chef” on today’s post. You will notice randomly placed bags and bowls of Cheetos in pictures today…on account of he’s a hopeless Cheeto addict! You can pretty much make a gourmet meal of 5 star quality, and he will still bring a bag of Cheetos to the table. It’s the perfect side dish for him.
In heaven, Mr. Wonderful will have nothing in his cupboards but Cheetos.
Okay – here we go!
Ingredients of Love: Vegetable, canola or peanut oil, chicken breasts, firm tofu, rice noodles, eggs, garlic cloves, tamarind paste, fish sauce, palm or brown sugar, chili pepper, peanuts, limes, green onions or chinese garlic chives, cilantro, bean sprouts and please…ignore the Cheetos!
These are rice noodles. They are pretty much available at your larger grocery stores now in the asian section. They are noodles made out of rice flour and have a chewier texture than egg noodles. We get the 28 oz. large bag and it serves 6-8 people.
Measure portions of this the same way you’d use fettucini noodles for volume/person.
You want to soak these a good 30-40 minutes before you’re ready to cook your Pad Thai in COLD water. The first time we did ours, we used hot, and they came out way too mushy.
Cover them with cold water and let them set while your prep your other ingredients.
Take one-half to one chicken breast per person. I would say one for guys and 1/2 for women. I used frozen chicken breasts and de-thawed them only about half way. This really helps you cut them nice and thin. If you buy the breast tenders, it’s even easier. I cut the chicken breast in thirds lengthwise and then in thin slices across.
When you’re done with your chicken, put it in a bowl.
Prep your tofu. You’ll need to buy the kind that is labeled “firm” or “extra firm”). When Tori saw the tofu, she crinkled up her nose and made a disgusted sound …”Ewwww”. I told her tofu takes the flavor of whatever you cook it in and she’d love it. When she was eating her Pad Thai, she couldn’t tell the difference between the chicken and the tofu. Of course we made fun of her…because that’s how we do things in our family.
You want to slice your tofu in nice, thin rectangles -about an inch long.
Put your tofu in a bowl.
Chop up your green onions and cilantro.
Using one clove of garlic per person, chop it up, or press it into a bowl with a garlic press. (If you’re a garlic lover like myself, use two!). We just usually peel the garlic and keep a bowl handy along with our garlic press to squeeze in as we make one portion.
Slice your limes into wedges.
Now you need to make your sauce. Again, based on preference, you might want to make more if you like super saucy Pad Thai. This is enough for about 6 servings.
Tamarind paste or pulp – this ingredient will almost have to be found at your asian market. Tamarind is often used in asian dishes as a sour additive to many sauces.
If you can’t find tamarind, use lime juice. It’ll work but it won’t be authentic. But hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
Mix together 1cup of Tamarind Paste, 1 cup of fish sauce, and 1/2 cup palm sugar or use 2/3 cup of brown sugar in a small saucepan. We pretty much just use brown sugar now, as Palm sugar is a little difficult to find and a little more of a pain to use.
To this mixture, add crushed red chili pepper to your spicy taste. We use about a half teaspoon to start, and then let people who like it hotter add their own to their dish while cooking it, or at the table. Mix all of this together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Please stop immediately and eat some Cheetos. It will make your life balanced and all better.
Thank you. Signed…Mr. Wonderful.
Mr. Wonderful commented that having Cheetos nearby is a great thing for “after taste testing this sauce”…it erases the funk from fish sauce and tamarind right out of your tastebuds. P.S. the smell of fish sauce and tamarind is not aroma pleasing in your kitchen….but it tastes great on Pad Thai!
I’ve lost control of my kitchen…HELP!
Pour this into a bowl and have a 1/4 cup measuring cup nearby or just use a medium sized ladle. We’ll use this to measure the sauce per serving when we stir-fry. Also have a tablespoon on-hand.
Drain your noodles and place one serving on each dinner plate – about 2 cups. Now everything is ready to go in the wok.
Set up your small and large bowls of ingredients next to your wok (or large frying pan). Your pan should be smoking hot.
Get your first guest guinea pig and have them step up to the wok, bringing their plate of noodles. Remember speed is your friend here. Do things quickly and aggresively. This is your time to be aggressive. I give you permission!
On you mark, get set. GO!
Start by adding 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok.
Toss in a handful of chicken. Stir this for a minute. (If you’re using tofu, add 5-6 pieces first and turn it until it gets brown on both sides.)
Now add a pinch of garlic. Stir fry about 15 seconds. Or, if you have a garlic press, press in 1-2 peeled cloves. I use two.
Add in a splash of the sauce.
Stir all of this around well, letting the sauce coat the meat and tofu.
PUsh everything up to one side of your walk and crack in one egg.
Let it fry for about 15 seconds then quickly scramble it up with your wooden spoons.
Add in your noodles and another ladle or about 1/2 cup of the sauce.
Toss quickly until noodles are coated and turn brown, about 1 minute.
Then add one cup of brean sprouts, some chopped green onions, and some cilantro.
Toss again and then turn it all out onto a plate.
Squeeze a lime over top. Sprinkle on some cilantro and additional green onions if you like. I do like…I add lots.
Squeeze a lime wedge over top of it all.
Sprinkle on some crushed peanuts.
This is so fun to do with guests.
Have a list of the order how you add things posted near your wok. Let each person prepare their own. Your friends will really get a kick out of it.
Have a Pad Thai party this week…it’s like having a vacation to Thailand in your own home!
- List of Ingredients:
- 12 T. Oil – Canola or Peanut (1-2 T. per person)
- 6 Chicken breasts or 48 medium Shrimp
- Firm Tofu
- 6 eggs
- 1 28 oz. package Rice Noodles (thin not wide)
- 6-12 Garlic cloves
- 1 c. Tamarind Paste
- 1 c. Fish Sauce
- ⅔ c. Brown Sugar (or ⅓ c. palm)
- 4 c. Bean Sprouts
- ¼-1/2 t. Crushed Chili Pepper flakes
- 1 c. crushed Peanuts
- 2 Limes, wedged
- 6 Green Onions or Garlic Chives
- 1 bunch Cilantro
- Soak Rice Noodles in cool water –about 30-45 minutes. Should be pliable but not fully cooked.
- Slice or chop firm tofu to desired size
- Grind up peanuts
- Chop up green onions or Chinese garlic chives
- Peel and chop garlic finely if you don't have a garlic press
- Chop up chicken – bit size pieces or strips, very thin
- If using shrimp, peel and devain, remove tail
- open egg carton - one to two per person
- Slice limes
- c.Tamarind Paste (or pulp)
- c. Fish Sauce
- ½ c. Palm Sugar or ⅔ c. brown sugar
- /2 t. chili flakes (or to taste)
- Bring sauce to slow simmer just until sugar dissolves. Turn off heat.
- Heat wok very hot.
- Add 2 T.oil until very hot.
- Stir fry tofu until crisp.
- If using, add in chicken or shrimp.
- If using shrimp add and cook until pink, about 1-2 minutes.
- If chicken, stir fry until browning and done, about 2-3 minutes. .
- Add a pinch of garlic or press in 1-2 cloves.Stir fry 20 seconds.
- Add 2 T sauce and stir to coat tofu and/or meat. Push meat up sides of walk as best as you can.
- Crack an egg into the bottom. Wait about 15 seconds and then bust the yolk and scramble.
- Add noodles and about ½ c. sauce.
- Toss with 2 large wooden spoons quickly to coat noodles with sauce.
- Add a cup of beansprouts. Stir fry quickly.
- Add garlic chives. Stir fry quickly.
- Spoon all onto plate.
- Sprinkle with additional chili pepper, peanuts, cilantro and more chives if desired. Squeeze lime over all.
Below is also a super simplified sheet to print out and have for your guests to read as they go. Post it right by the wok. It’ll help!
Katie’s Printable Guide for Party – Step by Step Instructions for Cooking Pad Thai