To me, Pad Thai is like our Char Kway Teow in Singapore and Malaysia. Although not everyone will agree with me! Hahaha. The differences are in the width of the rice noodle, the ingredients and seasoning/sauce. Hence the taste differs between these two noodles.
Pad Thai was made popular in Thailand during World War II. Pad Thai has since become one of Thailand’s national dishes. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pad_Thai)
My son and my husband like this dish. I’ve always wondered why as I find it quite oily and therefore have never tried it. It was indeed a challenge for me to cook something which I have never tried before… In my first attempt to cook Pad Thai, my family said it was delicious but my son commented that it was definitely not Pad Thai. My question then was: “how does Pad Thai taste like?” He said Pad Thai has this well blended taste of sweet, sour and salty and spicy. This sounded like an impossible dish to cook. 🙁 I researched into a couple of recipes and I adapted the recipe from She Simmers who wrote a 5-part series on this dish. I have summarised everything and hopefully it is easy to follow. After trying it myself, this is a nice noodle dish as I somehow love it now!
If you are a vegetarian and like to try out this dish, you can just omit the shrimp and substitute fish sauce with soy sauce. You may also add more tofu which is yummy too!! 🙂
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Making of Pad Thai Sauce
Yields about 2 cups (You can make this sauce in advance and store it in a glass jar and refrigerate or freeze.)
225g palm sugar
60g brown sugar
7 to 10 tablespoons water
- Add 7 tablespoons of water into the tamarind to help soften and loosen the pulp. If needed, then slowly add 1 tablespoon of water at a time so that you can get a tamarind pulp which is thick in consistency and concentrated in flavour.
- Let it soak for 15-20 minutes.
- Grab a handful of the soaked tamarind pods and keep squashing and squeezing to separate the purée from the veins, the seeds, and the tough membranes that cover the seeds.
- The tamarind pulp purée will seep through your fingers as you tighten your fist while the veins, seeds, and membranes stay inside.
- Keep the purée and throw away the junk in your fist.
- Keep repeating this until you end up with nothing but thick and smooth tamarind pulp in the bowl and set aside.
- Chop the palm sugar till very fine and set aside.
- Put all the ingredients in a medium pot placed over medium heat.
- Stir constantly until the palm sugar is dissolved (in a minute or less). Do not overly reduced the sauce and do not use high heat.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and leave it to cool.
Serves 3 to 4 persons
Cooking Pad Thai
250g of 2-3 millimetres-wide dry flat rice noodles
6 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2/3 to 1 cup of the above prepared Pad Thai sauce
1 tablespoon of shrimp paste in oil
10g of garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
20g of shallots (peeled and finely chopped)
10g of small dried shrimps (I did not use the Thai dried shrimps)
2 pieces of firm tofu (cut into strips)
250g of prawns (peeled and deveined)
7 stalks of Chinese chives (cut into 3cm long)
200g bean sprouts (remove the tail)
Garnishes and extras:
1 tablespoon of dried red chilli flakes
1 lime (cut into ½)
2 – 3 tablespoons of roasted peanuts (chopped)
Some Sugar (optional)
Some fish sauce (optional)
- Soak the dried noodles until they are pliable. The best gauge of whether your noodle is ready is when they are soft enough for you to twirl them around your fingers without breaking the strands.
- Boil a pot of water and blanch the noodles.
- Then drain the noodles well and set them aside.
- Heat up a 14-inches wide non-stick flat pan (cast iron or paella pan) on medium heat.
- Add half the vegetable oil when the pan is hot.
- Immediately add the blanched noodles into the hot oil, followed by 2/3 cup of sauce and add in the rest if necessary.
- Stir constantly with two spatulas. Keep the noodles moving constantly.
- After about a minute or more, you will be able to feel that the noodles have softened. At this point, push them to one side and add the remaining oil to the empty side of the pan.
- Add the garlic shallots, dried shrimp, tofu and prawns.
- At this point, you need to try to stir the noodles to prevent them from burning or forming excessive crust at the bottom, and to cook the prawns and mix in the rest of the ingredients evenly into the noodles.
- Once the prawns are almost done, make a well in the middle of the pan and add in the eggs.
- Scramble the eggs with the tip of your spatula; let them cook undisturbed on one side before flipping and breaking them into small pieces and mixing them into the noodles.
- Turn off the heat immediately.
- Add the bean sprouts and chives to the pan and give it all a quick but gentle stir to wilt them.
- Let the cooked Pad Thai sit for 5 minutes in the pan or you can dish out and serve immediately.
- Before serving use half the lime and squeeze the juice on the Pad Thai.
- Then sprinkle some chilli flakes and chopped peanuts on the Pad Thai
- As the taste for the noodles were just right for us, I did not add more sugar or fish sauce but you can sprinkle some sugar or add more fish sauce according to your taste.
- If you like it more spicy, you can add more chilli flakes.
- You can add more lime juice if you prefer it more sour-ish.
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