This restaurant-quality Pad Thai recipe is amazingly easy to make at home and personalize with whatever noodles, veggies, proteins, and spice amount you would like.
There are now only a couple of Thai restaurants in all Barcelona — none of which can be anywhere near our place, and not one of which come super-highly rated by our local friends. That has been a small bummer, especially for a woman (hi!) Who used to get a total Thai takeout obsession straight home. I miss my weekly Curry Monday, Pad Thai Tuesday, and Fried Rice Wednesday specials!
That said, following a year of lamenting our Thai takeout scenario here, I eventually decided to cut the complaining and teach myself how to cook some of our faves en casa. I was not interested in those close-but-not-quite type of copycat recipes, that so often occur with takeout classics. I desired recipes that tasted like the real deal. It turns out; it is surprisingly do-able!
My first triumph of this season was renovating our favorite Everyday Thai Curry recipe, aptly called because Barclay and I are obsessed with and cook it all of the time. My second was a brand new Thai fried rice recipe, which will be hitting on the site sometime soon. But perhaps best of all, I believe I have finally perfected a homemade Pad Thai recipe which legit tastes like the restaurant version. Or arguably, even better. This recipe is filled with fresh and sour flavors, it’s gently sweetened with brown sugar (vs. the heaps of sugar that many American restaurants include nowadays), it can be made as pleasantly-mild or as knock-your-socks-off-spicy because you would like, and it is ridiculously good. As any Pad Thai ought to be.
I will note that there is one particular ingredient that I’m going to strongly recommend you add to your grocery store (or Amazon) listing to create this dish occur. But otherwise, the parts are all pretty standard stir-fry fare. And needless to say, when made at home, you’ve got the flexibility to personalize your Pad Thai recipe with whatever kinds of proteins, veggies, noodles, and spicy peppers which you prefer.
So if any of you happen to live in a place where excellent Pad Thai is difficult to come by — or hey, if it is one of your faves and you’re ready to finally learn how to make it from scratch also — grab a bag of noodles and let us create a batch together!
WHAT IS PAD THAI?
So precisely what is Pad Thai? It is made out of rice noodles, a few kinds of protein (fish, poultry, beef, pork, tofu, etc.)plus a few light eggs and veggies. Then what are tossed together in a yummy Pad Thai sauce, made with an irresistible mix of sweet, savory, tangy, and hot (if you’d like) refreshing ingredients?
To be sure, authentic street food versions in Thailand can differ significantly in the Thai restaurant variations served around the world. But the text below is one that will taste comfortable and made with ingredients that you can readily supply at your usual grocery store.
- PAD THAI INGREDIENTS:
- 1 batch Pad Thai Sauce see below
- 10 ounces thin rice noodles
- 3 tablespoons oil divided
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts thinly sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3 eggs whisked
- 3 green onions sliced into 1-inch pieces
- toppings: lots of chopped peanuts extra crushed red pepper flakes, lime wedges
- SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- juice of 1 fresh lime
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more/less to taste
- Make the sauce. Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl (or shake together in a mason jar) until completely combined. Set aside.
- Cook the noodles. Meanwhile, cook your noodles al dente according to package instructions. Drain the noodles in a strainer, then rinse with cold water briefly to halt their cooking. Toss with one tablespoon oil briefly, to prevent the noodles from sticking.
- Cook the chicken (or see other options below*). Heat one tablespoon oil in a large sauté pan or wok over high heat. Add the chicken and sauté for 3-5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the chicken is lightly golden on the edges and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a clean plate.
- Cook the veggies. Add the remaining one tablespoon oil to the sauté pan, along with the bean sprouts, carrots, and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Cook the eggs. Push the veggies to one side of the pan, and add the eggs on the other side. Cook the eggs until scrambled, stirring often.
- Put it all together. Then add everything back in — the cooked noodles, chicken, sauce and green onions. Give the mixture a good toss until everything is evenly coated in the sauce. Remove pan from the heat.
- Serve. Then serve the Pad Thai while it’s nice and hot, sprinkled with lots of crushed peanuts, extra crushed red pepper flakes (if desired) and a good squeeze of fresh lime juice.
SHRIMP PAD THAI: Season 1 pound of large shrimp (peeled and de-veined) with salt and pepper. Sauté in 1 tablespoon oil over high heat until the shrimp are bright pink and cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate and set aside. BEEF PAD THAI: Thinly slice 1 pound of lean steak (against the grain), then cut into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté in 1 tablespoon oil over heat until the steak is browned on all sides, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate and set aside. PORK PAD THAI: Thinly slice 1 pound of lean boneless pork chops, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté in 1 tablespoon oil over heat until the pork is browned on all sides, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate and set aside. TOFU PAD THAI: Slice 1 (14-ounce) block of extra-firm tofu into 1/4-inch slices. Sandwich the slices between paper towels, press and drain for 30 minutes. Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the tofu in 1 tablespoon oil in a non-stick pan in a single layer for 2 minutes, undisturbed. Then flip the tofu and cook on the second side for 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to a clean plate and set aside.