I am currently teaching a 2 part Thai cookery course online via Zoom, if any UK readers are interested please see the course infromation at the end of the article.
Pad Thai is the national dish of Thailand but like the origins of many other food dishes its origns are disputed. As best as my research could tell, it was actually created in the 1930s in Thailand by Plaek Phibunsongkhram who was the prime minister at the time. The dish was created because Thailand was focused on nation building, so he created this dish using Chinese noodles and called it Pad Thai as a way to galvanize nationalism.
Pad Thai can either be made using chicken or jumbo prawns (shrimp). In my recipe I use prawns and if you make the sauce and soak the noodles ahead of time, making this dish is quick and simple.
Pad Thai Sauce (2-3 portions)
50 grams palm sugar, finely chopped
50 grams tamarind paste
3 Tbsp fish sauce (my recommended fish sauce)
5 Tbsp cold water
3 cloves of garlic chopped
½ Tbsp Vegetable oil
40 grams shallots finely diced
Making the sauce:
- In a small saucepan on a medium heat, add 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil, the shallots and garlic and cook until they are soft and slightly coloured, then remove from the saucepan and reserve.
- Turn the heat to low and add the palm sugar and stir until it is completely melted.
- Now add the fish sauce and stir in well and then 5 TBsp of cold water.
- Once it is simmering, add the shallot and garlic mix back in and turn off the heat.
- Pour the sauce into a measuring jug (you should end up with 175ml of sauce) and allow to cool.
PAD THAI (2-3 portions)
100 grams rice noodles (choose one that is about 3mm wide)
15 large Raw King prawns (shrimp) shelled and deveined
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
25 grams dried shrimp, finely chopped
125 grams pressed tofu, cut into 1/2 inch (12mm) pieces
½ tsp of chili flakes, or to taste
2 medium eggs beaten
150 grams bean sprouts washed and dried
20 grams green tops of spring onions cut into thin strips or chives cut into 2 inch lengths
40 grams chopped roasted peanuts
1 lime cut into wedges
- Soak the rice noodles in room temperature water for 1 hour and then drain, they are now ready to use or you can store them for up to 3 days in your fridge.
- Heat 2 Tbsp of oil over high heat in a wok. When the pan is very hot almost at smoking point, add the shrimp and let sear for 2-3 minutes then turn them over to cook the other side. Cook for 2 more minutes then remove and reserve.
- Still on a high heat stir fry the tofu pieces until they are lightly browned on both sides, remove from the wok and reserve.
- Turn the heat down to medium, add 1 tablespoon of oil, then add the shallots, garlic, dried shrimp and cook for several minutes until lightly browned.
- Now add the soaked noodles, the tofu pieces, and 2/3 of the Pad Thai sauce and chili flakes, making sure you stir well to mix all the ingredients.
- Once all the sauce has been absorbed, push the noodles to the top of the wok, pour the beaten eggs to the empty space. Scramble the eggs gently and let them set about half way. Put the noodles on top of the eggs and let the eggs set completely for another 15 seconds or so.
- Turn off the heat, stir everything well and immediately add the bean sprouts, chives/spring onions half of the peanuts and the king prawns and stir again, adding the final 1/3 of sauce.
Divide the Pad thai between 2-3 bowls and garnish with a lime wedge, extra bean sprouts, chives or spring onions and the rest of the peanuts.
Chef’s Notes on ingredients
Rice Noodles: It is best to soak rice noodles in room temperature water for 1 hour and then drain so the noodles don’t get over cooked in your wok. Once soaked and drained they can be stored in your fridge for up to 3 days.
Palm Sugar: Palm Sugar is made from the sap of various palm trees either directly from the tree or the palm tree’s flowers as is the case with the coconut palm. The sap is then slowly cooked down to make it syrup, before being poured into moulds and left to set.
Dried Shrimp: Sold at good Thai supermarkets or online usually in 100g bags. These shrimp are small and dried in the sun and yet they are sold in the refrigerated section of the store. The have a long shelf life, but once open use within 7 days. I like to divide the bag into 4 bags of 25 grams and freeze what I don’t use. Some dried shrimp need to be washed in water before use to remove some of the salt so follow the instructions.
Tamarind Paste: Make sure your tamarind paste is not too dark, I used this one in the picture from Morrisons. Some tamarind pastes are darker and more bitter therefore, you may need to adjust the amount you use.
Watch out for the Youtube Video coming soon!
Pad Thai ©Kevin Ashton 2022
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