Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pad Thai

It has been a long time since I've ordered Thai take-out food, much less eaten Pad Thai.  I used to pick it up quite regularly as a single girl living in the city, but now that I'm a suburban housewife my Thai take-out days are gone.  And now that I know how to make Pad Thai, this is not necessarily a bad thing.  Its hard to find good Thai food, so I was of course super excited to see Cook's Illustrated take it on. 

Some might think that this requires advanced kitchen skills, or fancy ingredients.  Well, as long as you can chop, you can make this.  I'd highly recommend having everything chopped and prepped before you start cooking since it comes together very quickly.  As for the fancy ingredients... well, I had to substitute some things, and omit others, but the result was still fantastic!  I couldn't find tamarind, so I used their substitute of 1/3 cup lime juice + 1/3 cup water.  I also couldn't find the dried shrimp or Thai salted preserved radish.  I completely spaced out and forgot to add the bean sprouts as well.  It still tasted great, but I'm going to be on the lookout for these ingredients from now on, so I can try the real thing.

Joey was a little skeptical when I told him what I was making for dinner, but he actually loved it.  And what's not to love?  Sauteed shrimp, rice noodles, crunchy peanuts, and a wonderfully delicious sauce - smooth, nutty, with enough heat to keep it interesting and addictive.

Pad Thai
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
serves 4
  • 2 Tablespoons tamarind paste or substitute (1/3 cup lime juice + 1/3 cup water)
  • 3/4 cup boiling water (if using tamarind)
  • 3 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (use brown sugar if you use tamarind sub)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 8 ounces dried rice stick noodles
  • 2 large eggs
  • salt
  • 12 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons dried shrimp, chopped fine (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped Thai salted preserved radish (optional)
  • 6 Tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 3 cups (6 ounces) bean sprouts
  • 5 medium scallions, green parts only, sliced thin on a sharp diagonal
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • lime wedges, for serving
Soak the tamarind in the boiling water for 10 minutes.  Push it through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds and fibers and extract as much pulp as possible.  Stir in the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and 2 Tablespoons of the oil.  Set aside.

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

Beat the eggs and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a large (preferably nonstick) skillet or wok over high heat until just beginning to smoke.  Add the shrimp and sprinkle with walt; cook, tossing occasionally, until the shrimp are lightly browned and opaque, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Off heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and swirl to coat.  Add the garlic and shallot, and saute over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring constantly, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the beaten eggs and cook, stirring vigorously, until scrambled and barely moist, less than 30 seconds. 

Add the rice noodles, dried shrimp, and salted radish to the eggs.  Toss with 2 wooden spoons to combine.  Pour the fish sauce mixture over the noodles.  Increase the heat to high, and cook, tossing constantly, until all the noodles are coated.

Scatter 1/4 cup of the peanuts, the bean sprouts, the cooked shrimp, and all but 1/4 cup of the scallions over the noodles.  Continue to cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are tender, about 2-3 minutes.  If they are still not tender, add 2 Tablespoons of water and continue to cook until they are.

Transfer everything to a serving platter, and top with the remaining scallions, the remaining 2 Tablespoons of peanuts, and the cilantro.  Serve immediately, passing the lime wedges separately.


Melissa said...

I really need to try this version. Pad Thai is my favorite!

Bridget said...

I love this recipe. And I haven't made it in forever, and I've been trying to figure out what to make for dinner tomorrow, and I have almost all of the ingredients for this, so...perfect!

Cara said...

I love pad thai! You're right, the ingredient list is a little daunting and I'm sure I would leave some things out too. Oops! But I bet it is still delicious :)

A Bowl Of Mush said...

Pad Thai is my favorite!!
I never can really make it right though...this looks so gorgeous I will definitely try this recipe! :)

Jenn said...

This looks really beautiful and so delicious. Nothing like homemade "take-out." Beautiful blog btw!

Jen said...

Asian food is so complicated to make at home! I think I would have to be highly ambitious (and craving pad thai) to make this--but if I'm ever making pad thai at home, I'm definitely going to use this recipe!

Erin said...

I love Thai food and have always wanted to try this. It looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

Yum, yum, yum 10,000 times YUM! Had it for dinner tonight, and it was great. My husband had never had it before, and really liked it too. I do have to say that this is WAY more than 4 servings, probably more like 6 or even 8. Though, that's not so bad, leftover Thai is yummy too.

Jaime said...

Thanks for this recipe! I used it tonight and it was the first Pad Thai I've ever made at home that I liked as much (if not more) than at a restaurant! I used tamarind paste I found at H Mart, then julienned some carrot sticks to go with it, and even found that the sauce was enough for a full 16 oz of noodles. Thanks again!

pamela said...

Am making this right now, and from my taste tests, I know it is going to be delicious! The only problem I've had is that my noodles are taking *forever* to get tender. Maybe i bought the wrong kind (H-Mart was more than slightly confusing, with its whole AISLE of rice noodles!), but I'm going on 10 minutes and they are still crunchy inside :( Next time I think I'm going to follow the ATK instructions to soften the noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes instead of just hot tap water for 20. Oh, and I made it with tofu instead of shrimp. YUM!

Monica said...

Pad thai is on my to-do list. I love it so much but there are not a lot of great Thai options nearby. I'm looking at a few recipes, which is a little confusing, but this looks very do-able. Thank you!

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