May 11, 2010

Pad thai

I’ve tried many times at home and I have yet to be able to replicate Thai food that you get from an actual Thai restaurant.  But I knew that Cook’s Illustrated wouldn’t steer me in the wrong direction.  Part of the problem with making authentic ethnic cuisine is finding the right ingredients.   This recipe calls for Tamarind paste – which is something I could not find at my regular grocery store.  Luckily, I live pretty close to some ethnic grocery stores, even though I have yet to find Thai basil anywhere – I easily found Tamarind paste (and these ethnic grocery stores sell fresh cilantro for really cheap!).  So in the end – I figured out that you can make authentic tasting pad thai at home – and its really pretty easy! 


  • 2 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 3/4 cup water (boiling)
  • 3 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 4 tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces dried rice noodles
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken, cut into thin strips (or 12 oz. shrimp or tofu)
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 medium shallot , minced
  • 6 tbsp. chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 3 cups bean sprouts
  • 5 medium scallions , green parts only, sliced thin on sharp bias
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • lime wedges


1. Soak tamarind paste in 3/4 cup boiling water for about 10 minutes, then push it through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds and fibers and extract as much pulp as possible.

2. Stir fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and 2 tablespoons oil into tamarind liquid and set aside.

3. Cover rice sticks with hot tap water in large bowl; soak until softened, pliable, and limp but not fully tender, about 20 minutes. Drain noodles and set aside.

4. Beat eggs and 1/8 teaspoon salt in small bowl; set aside.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet (preferably nonstick) over high heat until just beginning to smoke, about 2 minutes.

6. Add chicken and sprinkle with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt; cook, tossing occasionally, until completed cooked though, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate and set aside.

7. Off heat, add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and swirl to coat; add garlic and shallot, set skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes.

8. Add eggs to skillet and stir vigorously with wooden spoon until scrambled and barely moist, about 20 seconds.

9. Add noodles to eggs; toss with 2 wooden spoons to combine.

10. Pour fish sauce mixture over noodles, increase heat to high, and cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are evenly coated.

11. Scatter 1/4 cup peanuts, bean sprouts, all but 1/4 cup scallions, and cooked shrimp over noodles; continue to cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are tender, about 2 1/2 minutes.

12. Transfer noodles to serving platter, sprinkle with remaining scallions, 2 tablespoons peanuts, and cilantro; serve immediately, passing lime wedges separately.

Source adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

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1 comment:

  1. How does it compare to the boxed Pad Thai that you can buy? I'm not sure Jay would eat it if he saw me putting fish sauce in there :)