There are great Thai restaurants sprinkled throughout the world, but not every community is fortunate to have one. Our community has a couple Thai restaurants as well, but at one the Pad Thai tastes like they soaked the noodles in ketchup. At the other, they consistently overcook the Pad Thai so that it becomes a sticky, icky, basil-flavored mess. After eating dinner this weekend and encountering yet another bad dish, I decided that: A) it was time to take matters into my own hands; and B) I probably wasn’t the only one encountering this issue.
Pad Thai is commonly listed as one of the world’s Top 5 most delicious foods, so rather than to continue to live in deprivation, here are the results of my quest to develop a fantastic home version of Pad Thai.
What Is Pad Thai?
If you’ve never really eaten Thai cuisine, then this is a legitimate question. Pad Thai, at its simplest form, is simply egg stir-fried rice noodles in fish or soy sauce. From there, additional herbs, spices, and ingredients can be added to it to create a unique recipe. It is common to see turnips, garlic, shallots, roasted peanuts, and chili peppers included with the stir fry. Throw in a little lime and you’re good to go!
You’ll often see Pad Thai at a restaurant in several different forms. A spicy Pad Thai might be used as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to other dishes. It can sometimes be used in soups, though this is more of a non-traditional form of the dish. You’ll also see it featured in various combinations as the main dish on the menu. Because rice noodles are so versatile and they pick up the flavors of whatever you end up cooking them with, they become a textured taste of heaven once it hits your tongue…
If it’s made right. Here’s a look at a good, easy Pad Thai that can be made at home with just a few simple ingredients, even if you have food allergies, are vegetarian, or vegan.
What Is the Key To a Good Pad Thai?
The best part of Pad Thai is the sauce. A bad sauce will make a bad dish, but a good sauce will make your mouth explode with flavor! Before getting anything else started, begin making the sauce so you don’t have to rush perfection later on. I like to use a peanut sauce that’s slightly spicy to accompany the roasted peanuts that get tossed in during the stir-frying process.
- 5 tbsp peanut butter
- 3 tbsp warm water
- 2 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp white sugar
You can easily substitute the fish sauce for soy sauce [that’s actually pretty common, but our family has a soy allergy]. Take the ingredients, whisk them together until they’re good and combined, and then refrigerate it for a couple hours. You’re done!
Good Pad Thai Needs Screaming Hot Oil
You’ll want to then take your Pad Thai noodles and soak them for about 10-15 minutes. As you’re doing this, you can heat up your wok or stir-fry pan. I use 1/4 cup of peanut oil for this, but pretty much any oil will work. You want the pan screaming hot, but not smoking hot. Smoke means you’ve burned the oil and your Pad Thai will taste like the bottom of a barbecue – not good!
Take your preferred ingredients and place them in the hot pan to stir-fry. Be careful because watery items, like water chestnuts or palm hearts, will make the oil snap! This would include your garlic and other preferred herbs and spices because you want these flavors to infuse into the oil, but not the peanuts because if you add them too early, they can get gummy.
By now your noodles should have been soaking for the right amount of time. Add any protein products you plan to incorporate with your Pad Thai, then add the noodles, and also add about half of the peanut sauce that’s been thickening in the fridge. Grab a couple eggs while you’re in the fridge because you’ll need them next.
Once the sauce is fully mixed into the frying dish components, make a well in the center of your pan. Crack open the 2 eggs you just grabbed, stir them inside the well like you’re making scrambled eggs, and then coat the egg mixture with the noodles. If you have any basil, chives, or other herbs to add, now is the time to do so. The peanuts should also be added now. Then stir-fry for about 60 seconds, add a sprinkle of lime [if you add it too early, it will become bitter], serve hot, and you’re ready for some good Pad Thai!
If you happen to use this recipe, please note that it will make about 8 ounces of noodles, so if you’re making a full 16 ounce package, double the amount of peanut sauce that you make. If you are using tofu to make Pad Thai, remember that the bean curd will easily burn under hot conditions, so don’t let it set for too long in the hot pan.
Do you make Pad Thai at home? Share your ideas for a great Pad Thai with us!