Pad Thai is seriously one of my all time favorite dishes. I just can’t get enough. I used to buy those pre-made sauce mixes but eventually I knew I needed to work up to the real thing – making the sauce from scratch. The star ingredient is tamarind – which apparently can be substituted with lime juice but the final result is just not the same. You really must invest in tamarind – a seemingly foreign substance – which in its natural form is a pod like fruit but can be bought in blocks (with the seeds) or in a concentrated liquid form. The tamarind provides the tart/sweet flavoring to the sauce – to be balanced out by the salty fish sauce.
I chose to buy the block form on Amazon, which you then soak in hot water and drain through a sieve to separate the seeds from the liquid. This is really the only intimidating part of the recipe. The rest of the ingredients can be found in the regular grocery store and are easy to work with.
Pad thai is a meal that comes together quickly and is packed full of flavors. I really can’t wait to travel to Thailand and eat this day and night!
- 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
- ¾ cup boiling water
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
- 8 ounces rice noodles
- 2 eggs
- 12 ounces shrimp, peeled
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 6 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped
- 6 ounces bean sprouts,
- 5 scallions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup cilantro
- lime wedges
- Soak tamarind in boiling water 10-20 minutes. Using a sieve strain the tamarind, separating the seeds from the liquid and squeezing out as much pulp as possible. To the tamarind pulp add fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne pepper and 2 tablespoons sesame oil.
- Cook noodles according to package directions – under cooking by a couple of minutes. Rinse with cold water, drain and set aside.
- Beat eggs with a pinch of salt.
- Heat wok over high heat and add 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a wok when heated through. Add shrimp, sprinkle with salt and cook until cooked through. Set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil to the wok and add shallots and garlic. Cook until just starting to brown, 1-2 minutes. Move the shallots and garlic to the side and add the eggs to the pan. Stirring constantly, cook until eggs just starting to set, less than 30 seconds.
- Add rice noodles to the wok and toss to combine. Add sauce mixture, mixing to combine. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly until the noodles are coated in the sauce.
- Add ¼ cup peanuts, bean sprouts, shrimp and half the scallions to the pan. Continue to cook, while tossing the mixture until noodles are cooked through, 1-2 minutes.
- Serve sprinkled with remaining peanuts, scallions and the cilantro. Drizzle with lime wedges.