That’s Pad Thai, the famous street food that can be found everywhere in Thailand, but is especially prevalent in areas frequented by tourists. To be honest, the Thais will usually prefer the noodle dish called Kuay Tiaw which is also rice noodles, but is not stir fried and can be served either dry (heng) or wet (nahm). Neither pad thai, nor kuay tiaw are typically made at home by Thais as they are both so readily available from street vendors. In fact, in the seven years we’ve been married, and numerous trips back to Golf’s hometown to visit her family and friends, no one has ever cooked Pad Thai or kuay tiaw, though they will head off on a motocy to pick some up and bring it home. I guess you could consider Pad Thai to be the McDonald’s of Thailand, without the lack of nutrition and franchise fees.
Since you don’t likely have anyone making Pad Thai anywhere near your place, you’ll have to make it yourself at home. While the ingredient list might look intimidating, you can find everything you need at an Asian grocery (assuming you have one nearby). The real upside to making Pad Thai following this recipe is that you will get FAR LESS oil than you would get if you order it from a street vendor here in Thailand. I have had Pad Thai here in Bangkok, that is nearly swimming in oil by the time it is served. It’s still delicious, but not so nutritious. Our recipe has just a touch of oil at the beginning, and the resulting Pad Thai is fresh, vibrant and flavorful without being greasy or heavy.
- 1½ tablespoons Vegetable oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 12 Medium Shrimp - cleaned, peeled (leave tail on) and deveined
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoons Yellow Bean Curd, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Salted turnip, finely chopped
- 4 ounces Sen Chan Noodles (Rice Noodles)
- 6 tablespoons Fish Sauce
- 6 tablespoons Oyster sauce
- 3 tablespoons Tamarind juice
- 2 tablespoons Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Ground Roasted Peanut + more to serve on the side
- 1 tablespoon Ground chili (less or more as you prefer) + more to serve on the side
- 2 ounces Bean Sprouts + more for garnish
- 3 tablespoons Garlic chives, washed and cut about 1 inch in length + more for garnish
- ½ Medium Key Lime (to squeeze over finished Pad Thai)
- A little water
- **Some recipes may require 2 tablespoons small red dried shrimps but since we do not like them, we do not put this in our ingredients**
- If using the dried rice noodles, please make sure to soak the noodles in room temperature water for about 30 minutes. Also soak salted turnip in the water to reduce the saltiness (salted turnip doesn’t take as long as noodles – about 15 minutes). Drain the noodles and salted turnip. Set them aside.
- Set the wok on medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add garlic and stir until it fragrant. Add shrimps and stir until they turn a little pink, and then crack the eggs into the wok right away. Use spatula to break the yolks and stir to scramble the eggs.
- Add the bean curd, salted turnip, and rice noodles. (If you’re using dried shrimps, they will be added in this step too).
- Add a little bit of water to give an extra liquid so the noodles will get softer. Stir all ingredients well.
- Season with fish sauce, oyster sauce, tamarind juice, peanut, sugar, and chili. Stir all ingredients well and thoroughly.
- Add bean sprouts and garlic chives. Quickly stir for couple minutes or until the vegetables are lightly cooked. Remove from the heat.
- Start plating Pad Thai on the plate. Garnish with fresh bean sprouts and fresh garlic chives. Add chili powder, lime juice, and a little more grounded roasted peanut on top. Serve hot.
Pad Thai is one of the first Thai foods I tried when I came to Thailand the first time in 1997, and it stuck in my mind for all these years. I can still close my eyes and imagine sitting on the little plastic stool by the side of Chaeron Krung Road, fumbling with the chopsticks provided and shoveling it in as fast as possible. It was a truly life changing experience for me as one of my first introductions to Thai cuisine. Obviously I have had many more Thai dishes since, but Pad Thai holds a special place in my heart.
Oh, for the true Thailand experience you should take your pad thai outside and sit next to the road on a small plastic stool and eat it with a cold beer Singha at hand.