With Thai cuisine achieving its well-deserved praise, Pad Thai is surely the centerpiece. So, what could be better than a Pad Thai Tuesday when your week is full of nothing but work?
Instead of lamenting your Thai takeout situation, why don’t you cut the complaining and just teach yourself on how to cook some of those Pad Thai en casas? Those copycat recipes from YouTube may not work as high, but we have some recipes that taste like the real deal. Surprisingly, it’s absolutely do-able!
Without further ado, grab a bag of rice noodle and get started with making Pad Thai – from scratch!
What Exactly is Pad Thai?
Just in case, if you are new to Pad Thai noodles, know that it’s the most famous Thai noodle dish. Made of rice noodles, it’s packed with protein (shrimp, chicken, egg, beef, pork, tofu, etc.) and a few other light vegetables. Once everything is mixed together, it is then tossed up with a yummy Pad Thai sauce, which again is made of an irresistible mixture of sweet, tangy, savory and spicy (if you prefer) fresh ingredients. And finally, sprinkle it with droplets of freshly prepared lime juice and lots and lots of scrunched up peanuts.
It’s ridiculously delicious!
Just so you know, the authentic street food and the Thai restaurant versions can have a significant difference in its taste. However, the recipe and the procedure that we have mentioned below hopefully tastes familiar to the authentic street food version. You can find those ingredients very easily at your nearby grocery store.
Pad Thai Ingredients List
So, it’s high time let’s list out all the groceries that we need. We have bought to you all the easy stuff that you will need:
- Pad Thai Sauce: You can make this yourself, see below.
- Pad Thai Noodles: Thread-like, thin rice noodles that are typically used, but other widths will work, too.
- Oil: Any type of oil you prefer – peanut oil, olive oil, coconut oil or fish oil.
- Protein: Take out your favorite meat, beef, pork, shrimp or chicken, and you are good to go.
- Veggies: Normally, food enthusiasts prefer a classic and freshly chopped bean sprouts and some shredded carrots in this recipe. Never hesitate to add some of the other stir-dry choices that you love.
- Garlic: This is a must for some extra flavor.
- Green onions: Garlic chives are the key ingredients, but you can also use green onions if you cannot find them anywhere at your distance.
- Eggs: That you are going to whisk, scramble and add inside the stir-fry.
- Toppings: We would highly recommend you to top your Pad Thai with a fair amount of crushed peanuts. And on top of that, don’t forget to add a fresh lime wedge by its side. Plus, if you could put some crushed red chilli flakes for some extra heat, it would be a cherry on top.
The Famous Pad Thai Sauce
Before you jump into making Pad Thai on the stove, make sure you have the sauce ready at your hand. That’s perhaps the first thing that you will ever need to add once you are done with making the noodle dish itself.
To make this sauce, you will need:
- Tamarind Concentrate
Tada! This is the secret ingredient that we would recommend you to get your hands on. It’s the starring ingredient in an authentic Pad Thai. For all the sweet, tangy flavors come from this and it totally buys the dish. So, when you go grocery shopping, make sure to look for tamarind concentrate (not the paste), which is made out of 100% tamarind, with no added sugar or corn syrup in it.
In any case, if you can’t find tamarind concentrate, what you can do is try subbing in 3 tablespoons of ketchup with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to bring in the flavor. You will see that it works just fine.
- Brown Sugar: Typically, palm sugar is used to make the Pad Thai sauce, because it brings in a little of original colors. However, if you don’t have that in your stock, regular brown sugar would do the trick.
- Fish sauce: This is perhaps the favorite ingredients for all the fish lovers out there. It smells a little funky as your whisk up the sauce, but trust us when we say this, it’s the critical ingredient that makes the noodle taste like the one that we all love. With that being said, not all of them are created equally. Some of the brands are a little expensive, yet have a rich flavor, which doesn’t smell that fishy. But really, whichever fish sauce that you love will work.
- Soy Sauce: A low-sodium soy sauce is the Pad Thai’s best friend.
- Lime Juice: Freshly-squeezed, that is.
- Crushed red pepper flakes: You can even use Sriracha or any other garlic sauce you prefer. Make sure that it’s a hot sauce that you are using.
Now take a bowl and whisk all these ingredients together and there you have your Pad Thai sauce. The easiest method is to combine all of these flavors in a mason jar, shake, shake and shake them until they combine. That way, you can even serve some extra on the table.
Directions for Pad Thai
Prepare time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 20 – 25 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour
Heads up – now this recipe that we are about, to begin with, goes really fast. If you have your protein, veggies, sauce, eggs and toppings ready, you won’t need much time to partway through.
We’ll begin with chicken Pad Thai. For this recipe, you need to…
- Prepare the sauce just the way we have mentioned above.
- Boil the noodle: If you are a multitasker, you can boil the noodle while preparing the sauce; this will help you save more time if you are short of it. Follow the package instructions. Once done, drain and rinse it with cold water. It’s always a good idea to toss the noodle gently with oil to prevent them from sticking together.
- Cook the chicken: On a different pan, sauté the chicken on high heat till it cooks through.
- Cook the vegetables: Sauté the garlic, carrots and beans sprouts thoroughly.
- Add the egg: Push the vegetables on one side of the pan, and on the other hand, beat the egg. Scramble it properly and stir it occasionally.
- Mix them all together: This is where the fun begins! When everything is prepared, add everything back into one pan; the vegetables, eggs, chicken, green onions and most importantly, the noodles. Toss-toss-toss and toss, until it’s all done.
- Serve: Finally, when it’s all done, serve it while it’s still hot and lovely. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts on top, some extra crushed red pepper flakes (if you like them) and place a lime wedge by the side. Yum!
You can add some more variations to your Pad Thai as you wish. It’s not limited to what we have just listed out. Pad Thai is quite limitless. Here are some more ideas as to what you can do to your noodle dish:
- Use Kinds of Different Proteins: In our recipe, we have talked about how you can use beef, shrimp, chicken and pork in making Pad Thai. But if you want a meatless Pad Thai, go for crispy tofu. That’s a very different kind of protein you can have.
- Use More Vegetables: Extra veggies means extra flavor. And for all those veggie enthusiasts, Pad Thai with lots and lots veggies is going to be a blessing! So, go ahead and add those chopped onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and anything that will make it sound heavenly.
We would recommend you to add more veggies if you are making it meatless without tofu.
- Use Zoodles: Now, zoodles might sound new, but it’s very likely you have it in your fridge already. Ever heard of zucchini? That’s right; that’s the real deal. How about the idea of substituting zucchini noodles (zoodles) for at least 30 – 50% of the rice noodles? Try it out. It may taste heavenly!
- Make it a Little More Peanut-y: If you are a diehard fan of peanuts, get some more of those peanut sauce along with the crushed peanuts. Stir about 1 – 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter into the Pad Thai sauce, and you will love it.
- Make it spicier: More spice means more flavors. You can add more crushed red pepper flakes if you are a spicy lover. But it all depends on you though.
- Make it sweeter: This is something unusual, but some of you love your food a little softer, so this one’s for you. Add 1 – 2 extra tablespoons of brown sugar to your Pad Thai sauce to make it sweeter. Your child will love it, even if you don’t!
Meaty Variations of Pad Thai
Okay, we have talked about how you can make a basic Pad Thai. There are some other meats that you can use to make, too, of course, but here’s our quantification for each of them.
Shrimp Pad Thai: Take 1 pound of jumbo shrimps. You can peel and de-vein them with salt pepper. Sauté them in a tablespoon of oil over high heat, and you will notice that the shrimp turned bright pink. Cook the shrimp thoroughly by stirring them occasionally for about 1 – 2 minutes. Transfer it to a clean plate and set it aside to sauté the vegetables and eggs, only to mix them later.
Beef Pad Thai: This is the most exciting of all as you can’t commonly find them at restaurants. Take 1 pound of thinly sliced lean steak and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Again, season the beef with salt and pepper to your taste only to sauté them over 1 tablespoon of oil. Sauté over high heat, until you see that the steak has browned on all sides. For beef, you will need to sauté for about 3 – 4 minutes. And that’s it, transfer it to a clean plate and sauté your vegetables.
Pork Pad Thai: Take 1 pound of lean boneless pork chops, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Season them with adequate salt and pepper. Sauté the pork meat over 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat, until you see that the pork turns brown on all sides. Stir them occasionally for about 3 – 5 minutes. Once done, transfer it over to a clean plate and set it aside to sauté the vegetables.
Tofu Pad Thai: Now this is a little different procedure than the meaty ones. Slice about 1 block of extra-firm tofu (14-ounce) into ¼-inch slices. Sandwich them between paper towels and press to drain all the water for 30 minutes. Cut the tofu into your excellent sized pieces (usually, we’d suggest bite-sized). Season it with salt and pepper. Then cook the tofu in about 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan, over a layer for 2 minutes. Leave it just the way it is; do not the stir tofu when it’s cooking. Flip it and cook the other side for about 2 minutes until it turns light brown. Transfer to a clean plate and follow the next procedure.
Veggies ft. Spicy Pad Thai
This is a totally different kinda twist in here.
If you are out of meat stock at your home and you don’t want to ruin your lazy Sunday evening going to the grocery store, here’s one solution for you. Make a Spicy Vegetable Pad Thai that you are good to go. The good news is, you can totally make it on your own, and it won’t be that bad.
You can never go wrong with this traditional, flavorful Thai noodle dish with whatever you do.
If adding more shrimp, chicken and veggies to the dish makes it full of flavors, so will jalapenos, onions, garlic and capsicums do. All you need to do is, toss then with the sauce. Easy breezy!
Although the ingredients are pretty much same, below are the authentic ingredients that you need to make a successful Vegetable Spicy Pad Thai.
- A ¼ cup of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice and 1 small lime
- 1 tablespoon of sriracha
- 1 tablespoon of Thai red curry paste
- 12 ounces of Pad Thai rice noodles
- 1 cup of thinly sliced onions
- 1 jalapeno seeded and diced
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 whisked eggs
- 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons of chopped scallions
- 2 tablespoons of crushed peanuts
The making procedure for this is a bit different. So, ready?
- In a bowl, mix soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, peanut butter, lime juice, sriracha, brown sugar and Thai red curry paste to prepare the Pad Thai sauce. Once done, set it aside.
- Now bring your pot to cook the rice noodles. On boiling water, place the Pad Thai noodle and cook it for about 3 – 4 minutes. Drain it and set it aside to prepare the stir fry.
- Take a wok, add a tablespoon of sesame oil and heat it over medium to high heat.
- Put the onions to sauté them at first; onions take a little longer to cook. After that, add the jalapenos and garlic to prepare it for about 3 – 4 minutes. Push it to one of the woks to add the whisked eggs and scramble it.
- Add the boiled Pad Thai noodles to the sautéed vegetables and furthermore, add the sauce that you have prepared. Toss everything very well.
- Sprinkle the cilantro, crushed peanuts and scallions on the top and serve it immediately.
Still Got Questions?
Is Pad Thai too spicy?
It depends on whether you make it spicy or not. Some find it very tasty, whereas, others would indulge in it like its nothing. The best part when you are cooking it is that you can tone down the spice according to your taste or add more Sriracha if you want.
Is Pad Thai gluten free?
The dish itself is gluten-free. You need to ensure to use Tamari instead of a traditional soy sauce. This is to keep the dish gluten-free.
Is Pad Thai for vegetarians?
It’s not an entirely vegetarian dish, but you can always make it if you are a vegetarian. Others, who prefer meaty noodles can add some shrimp, chicken, beef, pork or tofu, as per their preferences. But do note that if you are adding Thai red curry pasta, it does contain a little portion of shrimp contents in it. So, if you are a complete vegetarian, do take care of that.
Pad Thai is seriously one of the tastiest noodle dishes around the world.
Speaking of fast, adaptable, delish and smooth, that’s all Pad Thai is about. This big bowl-o-noodles is perfect for getting your tummy full within minutes. Once you master the art of cooking the best Pad Thai among your friends and colleagues, you can call your friends over for a plate full of YUMMINESS.