Pad Thai

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I recently watched Padma Lakshmi’s Taste the Nation show on Hulu and the Thai Food episode was amazing.  In the episode, I learned about how the Thai community was developed in Las Vegas in the 1970s by brave Thai women who left their homeland for a better quality of life for their family, built the Thai community from the ground up, and introduced Las Vegas to amazing Thai Food over the past three decades.  Their stories were pretty inspirational and I look forward to checking out some of the Thai restaurants the next time I visit Las Vegas.

Pad Thai was the first Thai dish I’ve ever tried and to this day is still one of my favorites.  I’ve tried so many different Pad Thai creations over the past 15+ years after trying Thai food for the first time in college.  My preferred Pad Thai has a thicker and chewier rice noodle and the sauce is balanced, but slightly more tart.  I also like extra crushed roasted peanuts on it as well!  My suggestion for first-timers is when you make Pad Thai for the first time, play around and taste the sauce ingredients until it suits your taste buds.  You will know when you know.

Ingredients:

8 ounces rice noodles, large size, soaked and softened in warm water
4 ounces chicken thighs, sliced
3 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large egg
1 ounce fried tofu, cubed
1 ounce carrots, julienne
1 ounce bean sprouts
1 ounce green onions, cut in two-inch pieces
1 ounce peanuts, crushed
2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3 tablespoons tamarind paste/concentrate
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon paprika (optional for color)
1 lime wedge, for Lime Juice
1-2 teaspoons of crushed chili flakes (optional)

Steps:

Prepare Noodles – in a medium bowl, add dried noodles and submerge noodles in warm water for 1 hour or until the noodles soften.

Prepare Ingredients – Prepare and organize all the protein, veggies, and toppings in separate bowls and/or plates and set aside.

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Make Sauce – Heat a small saucepan on medium-low heat, add water and palm sugar and melt the sugar.  When the sugar is completely dissolved, add tamarind paste, fish sauce, white vinegar, paprika, and chili flakes and mix well and let the sauce reduce for ~3 minutes.  Adjust ingredients in the sauce to taste.  Set sauce aside.

Make Pad Thai – Heat a large skillet/wok on medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and stir fry chicken for about 1-2 minutes.  Add shrimp and tofu and stir fry for another 2 minutes.  Set protein aside.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the large skillet and stir fry the noodles for about 2-3 minutes.  Move noodles to one side of the skillet and scramble the egg.  Add protein back to the skillet, add 6 tablespoons of sauce (or more to taste), and mix until combined.  Add carrots, beansprouts, and green onions and toss for another 1 minute.  If noodles are still firm, add a few teaspoons of water and stir vigorously until the noodles soften.  Top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and crushed peanuts and eat!

Tips:

  • There are different sizes of dried rice noodles that can be used for Pad Thai.  I prefer the chewier texture of the large size rice noodles.
  • Not all tamarind paste or concentrate are created equal.  Adjust the ingredients in the sauce to desired taste.
  • Prepping the ingredients ahead of time is crucial for Pad Thai.  It cooks fast and all the ingredients need to be prepped before cooking.
  • For this recipe, I try to go with at least 8 ounces of protein.  You can make it in any combination you like.
  • Dried shrimp and preserved radishes are common ingredients in Pad Thai.  If you don’t have it, no big deal.
  • If palm sugar is not available, use brown sugar.
  • If garlic chives are available, use it in place of the green onions

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