I love Pad Thai - who doesn't?! Ultimate comfort food. But I've had a mental block about making it. Actually, that's not quite right as I've been experimenting and experimenting and trying out different recipes but none I felt confident enough in sharing, until I came across a recipe for Pad Thai on Chez Pim's site. I then started making it slightly more regularly (I still have weird Pad Thai nerves!) and adapting slightly until I now have a recipe I know by heart and that I feel I can happily pass on.
If you'd like the original, you can find it here.
And here's how I make it. The absolute key thing is to make the sauce first. Most recipes tell you to add the tamarind, fish sauce etc into your wok whilst cooking and I just find that impossible. As, I think, do most people.
To make this dish easily, you do need to get everything together first. And, again as usual, just cook 1-2 portions at a time - it'll just become a gluey noodley mess if you try and do too much in one pan.
Here's what you'll need to make a portion for two ...
For the sauce:
1/2 cup tamarind paste/pulp/puree - this is often available in supermarkets now although I did get mine from the Thai supermarket and it looks like this
1/2 cup fish sauce
very slightly less than 1/2 cup light brown sugar (or white if you don't have any)
1 tsp chilli powder
vegetable cooking oil
about a handful of fried or other hard tofu, sliced into bite-size pieces. The tofu my local Thai supermarket recommended looked like this (but I'm sure any firm textured tofu would work). The tofu's optional though so don't worry if you can't get it
one clove of garlic, minced
wide rice noodles, cooked or soaked according to instructions, ready to stir fry - enough for two people
dried shrimp - optional. If you can get them they keep well in the freezer to use as needed. If you're using them, you need about a tablespoon and use a pestle and mortar to fluff them up slightly (this will make sense when you do it!)
raw prawns, maybe 6-8 per person, deveined and defrosted if frozen
a small handful of peanuts, chopped or ground
as many beansprouts as you like! I use just a handful but I'm not a huge beansprout fan so you may like more
a handful of chopped garlic chives, or just normal chives if that's what you have
wedges of lime
some more chopped peanuts
OK ... start with making the sauce. Put the tamarind, fish sauce and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil very, very, very slowly and when it starts to simmer add the chilli powder. Taste and see if you need to adjust the flavours - it'll taste a little odd yes, but what you're after is salty first, then the sour tamarind, then a little sweetness and ending with just a touch of spicy.
When you're happy with it - and if you can't tell then just follow this the first time and adjust next time if need be when you're more confident as YES it's hard always to tell - turn the heat off and just leave the pan to one side. This does make more than you'll need for a couple of portions but it'll keep in the fridge for a week or two.
Now you need your noodles and you want them nice and unstuck. I tend to play with mine for a bit, gently puling them apart. You really don't want a noodle glue and you definitely don't want to be accidentally chopping them in half. If you can start coaxing them into lovely shiny individual noodles now it's all going to be better in the pan!
So - heat your pan and when hot add quite a bit (3-4 tablespoons) oil and then add the tofu, a tablespoon of the Pad Thai sauce and the garlic and cook for a minute or so over a medium high heat stirring all the time.
Then add the noodles and a nice ladleful of the Pad Thai sauce. Stir all the time, keeping everything moving and break up the noodles so they're not in a lump. I'd turn the heat down just a touch now. Add a little water if it becomes dry or a tiny bit more sauce - if the noodle is really sticking add a touch more oil. Cook for a few minutes until the noodle is warm and lovely and perfect (taste it).
Push the noodles to one side and crack the egg straight into the pan. Count to about 10-15 until it's setting then toss everything together to combine.
Add the dried shrimps, raw prawns, peanuts and beansprouts and fry, stirring all the time. Add a little more sauce if need be. Keep it moving!
When the prawns are cooked - it'll only take a few minutes - take the pan off the heat and stir in the chives.
I love to serve this with the additional flavouring you add to taste just on the plate itself - so add some lime wedges and a small pile each of chopped peanuts, sugar and chilli flakes for people to add as they like.
Confession: I not only had a mental block about MAKING pad Thai, and then about WRITING the recipe but I've also had one about POSTING it and this has been sitting here waiting for me to press publish for ages!
Well, here goes. And I hope you like it. Please let me know.
PS. due to the mental block, there's also very few pics on this post (I'll add some more of the steps soon).
UPDATE: I've now got a couple of beautiful pics, thanks to a photographer who came to a Tiniest Thai recently - thank you Viktoria!