Easy Pad Thai

Easy Pad Thai

Pad Thai, simple recipe with the authentic secrets of Northeast Thailand. This stir-fry rice noodles can be made from scratch at home using chicken, prawns, tofu, egg and peanuts. For the best homemade Pad Thai, try this recipe with the special tamarind sauce.

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Preparation 30 mins
Cooking 15 mins

Main

Phad Thai

Thai

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Nutrition per Serving

1173 kcal
196 g
34 g
32 g

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Pad Thai is an easy recipe that combines all the flavours of Thailand in one pan! It's tangy, savoury, sour, sweet with a hint of spiciness, if you prefer. The secret to its flavours lies in the tamarind based sauce which is not spicy. The spiciness comes from the chilli flakes which are served on the side. With rice noodles as the base of the dish, you can make this dish vegetarian or stir-fry it with classic meat options like shrimps or chicken. It is quite a minimalist dish but versatile at the same time.

In Thai, the words ‘pad thai’ simply means ‘stir fry’. In this case, it refers to the stir-fry noodles. Pad Thai is sold in restaurants and street food stalls all over Thailand. Out of Thailand, Pad Thai is always listed on the menu of every Thai restaurant.

The best Pad Thai sauce

This Pad Thai sauce recipe is exactly how my mother makes it. Using locally available ingredients in Thailand, we combine fish sauce, tamarind, palm sugar and salt. The Pad Thai sauce looks like a salad dressing which tastes salty and pungent (fish sauce) with the base of mild toffee sweetness (palm sugar) and subtle sourness (tamarind). This combination is just crazy delicious.

Tamarind paste, palm sugar and fish sauce
Tamarind paste, palm sugar and fish sauce

The sauce must be made in advance. Taste before using, just so you can adjust the flavours accordingly.

Pad Thai sauce should look like this once combined
Pad Thai sauce should look like this once combined

Pre-made Pad Thai sauce sold in supermarkets usually have additional ingredients which aren't required. You may find colouring, additives, thickener and even flavouring in the sauce. Real Pad Thai sauce is made without peanut butter which may also be an ingredient in the sauce. In fact, crushed peanuts are only added onto the noodles as a topping.

Substitutes ingredients in sauce

Preparing the sauce out of Thailand may be a bit of an issue because local Thai ingredients are not widely available. Here are some substitutes which you can use for your own homemade Pad Thai sauce.

Ingredient Substitute
Tamarind Vinegar - Use half of the recommended amount before adding more. Taste and adjust accordingly.
Palm sugar Coconut sugar, brown sugar or plain sugar
Fish sauce Soy sauce

It is possible to make Pad Thai sauce without fish sauce for a vegan option.

Storing homemade Pad Thai sauce

Yes, you can make a lot of Pad Thai sauce for a later use. Keep the pre-mixed sauce refrigerated in a jar for up to 2 weeks. The flavours will change if kept longer. To freeze the sauce, pour them into an ice cube tray.

Ready to use, bottle up or freeze
Ready to use, bottle up or freeze

4 problems when making Pad Thai

Now that you all the information regarding the sauce, Pad Thai may seem so easy to cook until you see that the noodles you cooked are soggy, sticky or too dry. The noodles may keep breaking too. Getting the noodles just right is the trickiest part of making Pad Thai. Make sure that the noodles are submerged in plenty of water in step 1. Anyway, here are ways to over come the problems:

Problem How to avoid
Soggy, mushy noodles Soak rice noodles in room temperature water for 30 minutes or lesser. It's best to follow the instructions on the packaging. Rehydrating noodles in boiling will result in soft and mushy noodles.
Sticky noodles Boiling noodles before using may cause this problem. Besides that, sir fry egg on the side without the noodles instead of adding it to the noodles. Otherwise the egg will clump the noodles together.
Breaking noodles Soak rice noodles as advised above. Also use enough oil or a nonstick pan.
Dry noodles Noodles were not soaked long enough, hence the dry texture. Also, don’t take too long stir-fry the noodles. The longer it stays in the wok with high heat, the drier it gets.

Push noodles to the side before adding egg
Push noodles to the side before adding egg

Which type of noodles to choose?

The rice noodles are the key players in this popular dish. They are gluten free too! In Thai, it is called ‘sen lek’ which means ‘small’ and ‘noodles’ respectively. It’s similar to a linguini and has the width of ca. 4 millimeters.

Before using the rice noodles, soak them for 30 minutes or less because some noodles are different. Read the packaging for instructions. Do not boil the noodles. Instead, soak them in room temperature water. After soaking, the noodles should be soft but not overcooked.

Hydrated ‘sen lek’ rice noodles
Hydrated ‘sen lek’ rice noodles

You may substitute it with rice noodles of other thickness. Today, many opt for zucchini noodles when making a low carb dish.

The type of pan and stove can make or break the dish

A non-stick pan will not require the use of too much oil compared to when using a stainless steel pan. More oil will be needed when using the latter to prevent the noodles from sticking. Once the noodles begin to stick, they will break and it will be messy. Besides, the heat depends on the type of stove you are using, whether a gas stove or an induction cooker. Adjust the heat as you see fit.

Traditional or Vegan Pad Thai

Authentic Pad Thai ingredients include shrimps or chicken.

Shrimps, eggs and vegetables used in this recipe
Shrimps, eggs and vegetables used in this recipe

You can easily omit the meat, fish sauce and eggs for a vegan version. Use only tofu, vegetables of your choice and soy sauce instead.

Toppings on Pad Thai

Always top it up with some crushed roasted peanuts. It gives a delicious nutty bite to the dish. Additionally, dried chilli flakes and plain sugar are spooned onto the side of the dish. As for vegetables, raw Chinese chives or bean sprouts may be added followed by a slice of lime or lemon.

Storing leftovers

This noodle dish is best eaten immediately. If you are someone who wants to make a big batch of Pad Thai for meal prep, keep the extra portion in an air-tight container and keep refrigerated. It can keep for up to 5 days.

How to reheat Pad Thai

Pad Thai may dry after leaving it out for a long time. To reheat Pad Thai, microwave the dish by pouring a tablespoon of water onto the noodles. It is best to cover it with a heat resistant wrap and poke a few holes using a fork to create steam when heating up. Microwave at low heat for 1 to 2 minutes.

The best way to reheat Pad Thai is on a pan/wok over the stove. Add a bit of broth or water and use a pair of chopsticks to separate the noodles carefully.


Ingredients

Servings:  
3 tbsp
shallot(s)
3
garlic cloves
4
prawns
60 g
tofu (firm)
60 g
bean sprouts
2 tbsp
oil
5 g
Chinese chives
200 g
Pad Thai noodles
150 g
Thai palm sugar
110 g
tamarind paste
40 g
fish sauce
60 g
water
1⁄2 cup
water
2
egg(s)
4 tbsp
crushed peanut
2 tsp
chilli flakes
2 tsp
sugar
1⁄2
lime(s)

Steps to Prepare

Easy Pad Thai Step 1

Step 1 of 7

    • 3 tbsp shallot(s)
    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 4 prawns
    • 60 g tofu (firm)
    • 60 g bean sprouts
    • 2 tbsp oil
    • 5 g Chinese chives
    • 200 g Pad Thai noodles

Soak dry noodles in room temperature water for 30 minutes or according to the instructions on its packaging. Meanwhile, chop Chinese chives into 1 inch long pieces. Rinse the bean sprouts and slice the shallots. Cut firm tofu into cubes. Clean shrimps and remove the shell but leave the head intact. Lastly, roughly slice the garlic cloves. Set aside oil needed for frying later on.

Easy Pad Thai Step 2

Step 2 of 7

    • 150 g Thai palm sugar
    • 110 g tamarind paste
    • 40 g fish sauce
    • 60 g water

To prepare Pad Thai sauce, chop palm sugar into small chunks for them to dissolve easier. Pour palm sugar chunks, water, tamarind paste and fish sauce into a pan. Stir the ingredients over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved. It should take about 2 minutes until it begins bubbling as shown. Remove from stove.

Easy Pad Thai Step 3

Step 3 of 7

Use a clean pan, heat oil over medium to high heat. Then, add sliced shallots, garlic and tofu. Stir fry until golden brown. Add shrimps to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Shrimps are done when they turn pink. Remove shrimps from the pan.

Easy Pad Thai Step 4

Step 4 of 7

    • 1⁄2 cup water

Increase the heat to high. Add noodles to the pan. Gradually add water into the pan. It’s important not to add the water all at once. Stir the noodles until soft. Then, lower heat to medium and add ½ of the Pad Thai sauce from Step 2 to the noodles. Continue stirring until the noodles are cooked and have absorbed the sauce.

Easy Pad Thai Step 5

Step 5 of 7

    • 2 egg(s)

Push noodles to the side of the pan. Add eggs to the other side of the pan avoiding the noodles. Allow the egg to cook into small chunks before mixing them with the noodles. Optionally, you can add chilli flakes now for some spice.

Easy Pad Thai Step 6

Step 6 of 7

Stir in bean sprouts and Chinese chives for another 30 seconds to a minute. Turn off the stove.

Easy Pad Thai Step 7

Step 7 of 7

    • 4 tbsp crushed peanut
    • 2 tsp chilli flakes
    • 2 tsp sugar
    • 1⁄2 lime(s)

Plate Pad Thai noodles and add shrimps on top. Place some ground roasted peanuts, chilli flakes, white sugar and lime wedges around the side of the noodles. Serve immediately.

Published: April 9, 2021


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