I nearly always order Pad Thai when I go to a Thai restaurant. It’s usually a toss up between that or a Thai Green Curry.
What is Pad Thai?
Originating from Thailand, Pad thai (also called phad thai), is a popular street food dish of stir-fried flat rice noodles. The noodles are flavoured with tamarind, shrimp paste, chillies, fish sauce, sugar and lime. Common additions include eggs, tofu, prawns, chopped peanuts, bean sprouts and pickled radishes.
I love the layer-upon-layer of flavours in a Pad Thai – as well as the abundance of toppings to finish the whole thing off.
It’s really important to get the right noodles in a Pad Thai. Skinny noodles or egg noodles just won’t do it.
Pad Thai Noodles:
The best noodles for Pad Thai are flat rice noodles or ‘rice sticks’ that are around 3-5mm wide (you can see the ones I use in the image below).
Rice noodles are notorious for sticking together, so I recommend soaking the noodles in a pan of just-boiled water for 3-4 minutes. Then drain them and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil or an unflavoured oil, such as vegetable or rapeseed oil, and toss together.
In addition to king prawns, I like to add tiny brown shrimp to my Pad Thai.
You can go down the traditional route of frying up dried shrimp, and then use the frying oil to flavour your Pad Thai. However I find the dried ones a little too pungent. Brown shrimp (also known as crangon crangon) are a lovely tender alternative. They’re widely available in the UK in little pots with butter. That’s what I’m using for this recipe.
Once you’ve fried up the shrimp with the butter, oil, salt and a little garlic salt, they’re drained, and then the oil is placed back in the wok. The king prawns are then fried in this oil with garlic and chilli flakes.
Next in goes eggs, followed by cooked noodles, fish sauce, tamarind paste, chilli sauce, sugar, shrimp paste and soy sauce. Once that’s mixed together and heated through, we finish off with Thai preserved radish, crushed peanuts, spring onions (scallions), bean sprouts and coriander (cilantro). Toss it all together and serve.
Top with some sliced red chilli and lime wedges . I also like to finished with a few more chopped nuts, springs onions, coriander and chilli flakes.
Easy Pad Thai! A fair few ingredients, but simple to put together and so delicious!
This recipe is inspired by Rick Stein’s Pad Thai recipe from his book Far Eastern Odyssey.
Try some of my other Thai recipes:
Thai fishcakes with vegetable ribbons
Thai chicken salad with peanut dressing
Thai style Peanut Pork
Thai fish burgers with sweet chilli sauce
Or more Prawn Recipes:
Prawn and Mango noodle curry bowl
Thai prawns with cauliflower rice
Chicken, Chorizo and Prawn Jambalaya
Coconut Prawns with Fiery Tomato Dip
The Pad Thai Recipe:
- 6 oz 175g dried 5mm-wide flat rice noodles
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 3/4 oz 50g pot of potted brown shrimp (the teeny tiny shrimp in butter) * (see note 1)
- 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- pinch of garlic salt
- 20 large raw king prawns peeled and de-veined
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 eggs beaten
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp tamarind paste
- 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 2 tsp shrimp paste
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce or tamari for gluten free
- 1 tbsp Thai preserved radish chopped (optional)
- 1/3 cup 40g roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 4 spring onions (scallion halved, then finely sliced lengthways
- 3 1/2 oz 100g fresh bean sprouts (mung bean sprouts)
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander/cilantro
- 2 limes sliced into wedges
- 1 fresh red chilli sliced
- Extra chopped coriander/cilantro spring onions, chopped peanuts and chilli flakes
- Boil a large pan of water and add the noodles. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 3-4 minutes. Drain, then rinse with cold water until cold. Drizzle on the sesame oil and toss together - to prevent the noodles from sticking.
- Heat a large wok over a high heat. Add the potted shrimp in butter, vegetable oil, salt and garlic salt. Fry for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden.
- Tip the shrimp into a small sieve over a bowl to catch the oil.
- Place the reserved oil back into the wok, along with the king prawns, garlic and dried chilli flakes. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the king prawns just start to turn pink.
- Whisk the eggs together and add to the prawns.
- Fry, stirring often with a spatula until the eggs are just scrambled.
- Turn down the heat to medium and add the noodles, potted shrimp, fish sauce, tamarind paste, sweet chilli sauce, sugar, shrimp paste and soy sauce/tamari.
- Toss everything together, heating for about 5 minutes, until the noodles are hot. Keep the noodles moving around the wok to stop them sticking, and ensure any pieces of shrimp paste are broken up.
- Add the preserve radish, peanuts, spring onions (scallions), beansprouts and coriander (cilantro).
- Toss together and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, until the beansprouts are just heated through.
- Serve with lime wedges and top with fresh red chillies. You can also sprinkle on extra coriander/cilantro, spring onions, chopped peanuts and chilli flakes if you like.
Pad Thai Sauce:The noodles are coated in a number of different ingredients. I add these in one at a time, but you can stir them together to make a sauce, and pour it directly on the noodles during cooking if you prefer.
The sauce would include:
- Dried chillies
- Fish sauce
- Tamarind paste
- Chilli sauce
Gluten Free Pad Thai:I often use tamari instead of soy sauce, so the Pad Thai is naturally gluten free. However, it is worth checking the particular brands you use to ensure they're gluten free. Rice noodles are usually gluten free - but check your brand. Also check your brand for fish sauce, tamarind paste, chilli sauce and shrimp paste. Again they're often gluten free, but it really does depend on the brand.
Vegetarian Pad Thai:You can swap out the shrimp and prawns for mushrooms and tofu. You won't get the flavoured oil from the shrimp, but it will still be tasty.
Swap the fish sauce in this case for a vegetarian fish sauce (Thai Taste do one) or soy sauce/tamari.
It's difficult to replace the shrimp paste, but I've heard that a good alternative is miso paste - as it's got that nice salt, umami flavour. * Nutritional Information is approximate and is per portion.
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