Pad Thai maybe one of the first dishes you think of if you are playing list of things and Famous Thai Food was the topic. But in fact the dish is more Chinese than Thai!
Pad Thai is basically a dish of stir fried ‘chan noodles’ which are rice noodles that came over from China via Vietnam as these noodles resemble Pho – a classic Vietnamese dish. Chan noodles are a thin flat noodle, a few millimeters wide – and the size is actually quite important.
There’s a whole bunch of different types of noodles so if you are in your Asian grocery store just ask for pad thai noodles and you should be given the right sort.
The dish can also be made using ‘sen lek’ which is a smaller, rounder noodle but the end result will be a stickier and less yummy dish. So do try to get the right noodles for the best results.
The preparation of the noodles also plays a large part in getting the right texture for the finished Pad Thai – too dry and they will not stir fry well and be too chewy – too wet and they will end up a sticky mess. I will show you how in my Pad Thai Recipe below.
Thai Street Food is well known for its amazing taste at very affordable prices and Pad Thai is one of the most common offerings from Thai street food vendors.
There is little preparation needed and once that little work has been done, the dish can be whipped up in moments. Great for a quick serving and on to the next customer.
Although every Thai will have their own nuances on the ingredient amounts, every Pad Thai Recipe will include noodles, beansprouts, Pad Thai Sauce, tofu, egg, peanuts, tamarind, and usually chopped garlic chives and fermented soy beans for a bit of color and taste.
Strict vegetarians can skip the egg to make a vegetarian version and vegans can also enjoy the dish with a bit of simple adaptation.
Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe – Stir Fried Thai Noodles with Shrimp Method.
Grab sufficient quantities of the ingredients for the number of people you are cooking for using the recipe below. You can print it out to have with you when you are actually cooking so do check it out.
Also check out my video and watch me making this dish – I find that most people find it helpful.
Step 1: Prepare the Pad Thai Chilli Paste.
You can make the Pad Thai Chilli Paste ahead of time and just keep it in the fridge. But it takes no time apart from soaking the dried chilli for half an hour so you can just do it all at once if you prefer. That is what I do.
For the best taste rinse your beans to get rid of excess salt – then just drain them and set aside.
You will also need to cut the dried chili into short lengths and soak in a little warm water for about 30 minutes or so to soften them up a little.
Chop the shallots into rough pieces to help your food processor and set these aside too.
You want to use the water the chili has been soaked (just enough to cover the chili pieces) so get that ready along with the oil.
Since this paste will be stir fried later I suggest using either refined coconut oil or pure olive oil but if all you have to hand is vegetable oil with a mild taste then just use that as the quantity of oil in the paste is not a lot. But you might like to check out my healthy cooking oil article to see why you should be replacing those vegetable oils.
Place the shallots, chili with its water, oil and fermented soy bean in the processor and pulse to chop into a paste. You want the paste to be a medium fineness but still leaving small pieces of the ingredients visible.
Scrape out the Pad Thai Chilli Paste and set aside for cooking.
Step 2 – Prepare the Pad Thai Sauce
The Pad Thai sauce along with the Pad Thai Chilli Paste is the backbone of this recipe, giving it the classic, authentic taste you are after.
Take the tamarind paste, or use tamarind pulp soaked in a little water (enough to cover it) for ten minutes or so and squish it together. Add the tamarind, palm sugar, and fish sauce and put it in a small saucepan to heat. You can substitute palm sugar for brown sugar if needed.
If you are vegetarian or vegan then check out my recipe on how to make a vegan fish sauce alternative.
Heat the ingredients over a medium-high heat up to a simmer and then turn down to simmer gently while stirring until the palm sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
While this is going on you can be soaking the noodles to soften them up a little. They only need 5-10 minutes or so.
Step 3 – Getting Prepared for the Stir Fry.
Grab your beansprouts and give them a good wash and then rinse and drain in a colander.
Wash, drain, and chop up the garlic chives, mixing them up with the beansprouts so they distribute nicely when cooking.
Wash the firm tofu slab gently and dab it with a kitchen paper towel to dry it off. Then slice it into small, french fry sized sticks and then cut into small cubes ready for frying.
Get your peanuts and give them a pound into small pieces using a mortar and pestle. These are added to the finished dish and extra are served for the diner to add if they wish.
Wash, shuck and devein your shrimp or prawns, leaving the heads on as well as the end tail section.
Step 4 – Cooking your Shrimp Pad Thai
You need to have everything to hand now because this stage will go very quickly. It is best to cook one or two portions at a time as the noodles will clump together and be hard to separate if you try to cook too many at one time.
Put a tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan or wok – you need space as everything will end up in the pan. As soon as it is hot add the shrimp, cooking until barely pink. These will cook further later. Set aside.
Add the remaining oil and heat it up until hot but not smoking. Add the tofu, adjusting the heat as necessary, and stir fry until golden brown – this will take a minute or two. As soon as the tofu is golden add the egg and break it around in the pan. Then as soon as the egg starts to set (10-20 seconds later) add the noodles and give everything a stir fry.
It is important not to overcook the egg before you add the noodles and not to under or overcook the noodles – you do not want cooked noodles yet.
Since you have other ingredients to add, you fry the noodles al dente, so they will not be overcooked at the end.
As soon as the rice noodles have softened a bit (3-4 minutes or so) add one tablespoon of the Pad Thai Chili Paste you made earlier and two to three tablespoons of the Pad Thai Sauce and the shrimps or prawns.
Stir fry to stir everything together and coat all the ingredients with the sauce mix and then add the beanspouts and garlic chives and stir fry a little more to coat with the Pad Thai Sauce & Paste mixture. These will be warmed through by the time you are finished.
Serve it up immediately with a few crushed peanuts on top (unless your diners have a peanut allergy of course) and some extra garlic chives to make it look awesome.
One of the pleasures of eating Thai food is to give your guests little portions of things to add to their food so they can pretend to be cooking too.
Serve up some extra peanuts, lime segments for squeezing out lime juice over the dish and dried red pepper flakes so your diners can self spice. These should be served in little condiment dishes, dip bowls or whatever small sized mini bowls you have available.
Also provide a small bowl with some extra beansprouts to make everyone eating your amazing Pad Thai feel special!
If you are feeling really adventurous then you can serve up segments of banana flower too but be warned it goes brown while you watch it.
Voila! Presto! You are done and will be loved forever! Enjoy!
Do take a minute to watch through the video at the bottom of the recipe and please do try this dish – it is awesome!
Easy Print Recipe for Shrimp Pad Thai
Shrimp Pad Thai RecipePin Recipe
Pad Thai Basic Recipe (for everyone)
- 4 Dried Spur Chili Cut into small pieces
- 4 Shallots Peeled & chopped
- 1.5 tbsp Fermented Soy Beans
- 3 tbsp Refined Coconut or Pure Virgin Olive Oil Use vegetable oil if that is all you have
Pad Thai Sauce
- 1 oz **Dry Pad Thai Rice Noodles **Available gluten free and vegan
- 1 cup Garlic Chives
- 2 cups Bean Sprouts
- 6 oz Firm Tofu
- 4 Eggs Omit for Vegan and Vegetarian as desired
- 1 cup Oil for stir frying Pure Olive Oil or Refined Coconut Oil are best
- 16 Large Shrimp Omit for Vegan & Vegetarian . Devein and shell
- 4 Fresh Garlic Chives 1 plant top whole for each person
- 4 slices Lime 1 slice each person
- 2 cups Beansprouts 1/2 cup each person
- 4 tbsp Crushed Dry Roasted Peanuts 1 tbsp each person
- 1 Banana Flower (optional but traditional). (Optional) Quartered & seeds removed leaving the White Flower part. After cutting immediately soak in water with lime juice before serving – 1 quarter each person
Preparing the Pad Thai Chilli Paste
- Cut the dried chili into 1-inch pieces and soak in drinking water enough to cover the chili. Soak for about half an hour.
- Peel the shallots and chop up for processing.
- Add the cooking oil, dried chili together with the water used for soaking, soybeans, and shallots into a small blender and blend until you have a rough paste. You are looking to have small pieces of the ingredients visible rather than a completely smooth paste.
Preparing the Pad Thai Sauce
- Add tamarind paste, palm sugar and fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce substitute for vegan version), into a small saucepan. (If using tamarind pulp instead of paste, you will need to add enough water cover and soak for about a quarter of an hour to unbind it a little for consistency. Then press it into a paste with your fingers.)
- Simmer together, mixing until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
Preparing and Cooking the Noodles
- Soak the dried noodles in plain water at room temperature for about 5 minutes or so to loosen.
- Wash and cut the chives into 1-inch or so lengths and set aside.
- Wash the beansprouts and remove any black husks and set aside.
- Wash and dry the tofu. Cut into slices off the slab about the thickness of your little finger. You will have stips the thickness and length of the block about 1/4-inch thick. Slice again across the width lengthwise into two. Cut these thin strips of tofu again into 1-inch long, bite-sized, pieces. Watch the video if you are unsure.
- Combine bean sprouts and chives in a bowl ready for cooking.
- Crush your peanuts up roughly using a mortar and pestle. These are used to garnish the finished dish as well as served as a complimentary side toghether with extra bean sprouts.
- Stir-fry the tofu until light yellow color to remove the sour taste you would otherwise get. Fry in batches enough for one person at a time. It is better to stir-fry in small batches as it is easier to mix in all the ingredients. Don't try cooking all four portions at once or you will likely be disappointed.
- Get ready with the noodles. Add one egg, immediately breaking the yolk and gently spreading out over the tofu and as the egg just begins to set add the noodles so they blend with the unset egg. Do not scramble the egg together – watch the video if you need visualization of this.
- Almost immediately add the noodles and stir the ingredients together. The aim is to soften the noodles and cook the egg and tofu.
- As soon as the noodles are softened then add one Tablespoon of Pad Thai Chili Paste and three to four tablespoons of Pad Thai Sauce. Also, add shrimp at this stage if using. Stir fry to coat.
- Then add one portion of beansprouts and garlic chive combination. Stir-fry gently to further soften the noodles and thoroughly mix the ingredients.
- Serve on a plate. Garnished with banana flowers (optional), more fresh bean sprouts, slice of lime, crushed peanuts, more fresh garlic chives and small amount of dry chili flakes . Each diner can choose to add into their dish to their preference.
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