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What is Pad Thai? Full Recipe for Making this Thailand Dish

What is Pad Thai? Full Recipe for Making this Thailand Dish

Pad Thai is one of the most popular Asian dishes, and it’s easy to see why. It’s easy to make, it tastes amazing, and it goes with just about anything. The name “Pad Thai” translates as “fried Thai noodles,” and while there are some variations, this dish is typically made with rice noodles stir-fried in a sauce made up of soy sauce, fish sauce or oyster sauce, peanuts (or sometimes cashews), lime juice and sugar or palm sugar.

There are great Thai restaurants sprinkled throughout the world, but not every community is fortunate to have one. Our community has a couple of Thai restaurants as well, but at one the Pad Thai tastes like they soaked the noodles in ketchup.

On 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 most delicious foods, so rather than continue to live in deprivation, here are the results of my quest to develop a fantastic homemade Pad Thai recipe.

What is Pad Thai?

Pad Thai

If you’ve never really eaten Thai cuisine, then this is a legitimate question. Pad Thai, in its simplest form, is simply egg stir-fried rice noodles in fish or soy sauce. Pad Thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish with eggs, tofu, and vegetables that have been popularized in the United States as one of Thailand’s most well-known dishes.

It may be familiar to you as something that you order at your local Thai restaurant or see on menus at other types of restaurants (though it is not typically found on Chinese food menus).

Pad Thai is often prepared with tamarind pulp and palm sugar for sweet flavor; fish sauce or soy sauce for saltiness; lime juice for acidity; peanuts for crunch; and chili peppers for heat—all ingredients that can vary depending on region and personal preference.

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…

History of Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a popular Thai dish that has been around for over a hundred years. Details of its origins are quite different from sources based on my reading. But I was surprised to learn that most reports believe Pad Thai to be an ancient Thai dish that was invented just 100 years ago.

It has been attributed by some historians in the 1930s as a result of a competition organized by the prime minister of the time Plaek Phibunsongkhram which aimed to promote nationalism.

Pad Thai is believed to be a fusion of Chinese and Thai cuisines, but it also includes peanuts and other ingredients found in Southeast Asian cooking today like tamarind pulp, fish sauce, and dried shrimp paste (sometimes known as ngapi).

The stir-fry recipe consists of rice noodles, eggs, and vegetables such as bean sprouts (tua fak), onions (phak chi), garlic chives (gai horapha) or kung pao sauce (prik thai).

If it’s made right. Here’s a look at a good, easy Pad Thai recipe that can be made at home with just a few simple ingredients, even if you have food allergies, are vegetarian, or vegan.

How to Make Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a simple dish to make at home, but it does take some time.

  • Heat up a wok or large frying pan on medium heat and add the oil. Then, scramble your eggs in the wok until they are cooked through (about 3 minutes).
  • Add your noodles and toss them around with the egg for 2 minutes until they’re starting to get soft.
  • Add tofu along with fresh bean sprouts and peanuts, then mix everything together well before serving! You can enjoy this delicious Thai dish as is or add more sauce from your favorite store-bought variety if you want something extra spicy.

Best Pad Thai Recipe #1

The best part of Pad Thai is the Pad Thai 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 them for a couple of hours. You’re done!

Authentic Pad Thai Needs Screaming Hot Oil

Pad Thai Vertical Image

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 of 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!

Things to Know About This Pad Thai Recipe

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.

Best Pad Thai Recipe #2

If you want to try another authentic Pad Thai recipe, here is a variation of Pad Thai so you can try multiple versions.

Ingredients

  • Shrimp
  • Fresh bean sprouts
  • Chicken, sliced into bite-sized pieces (you can also use beef, pork, or tofu)
  • Egg, beaten with a splash of water and set aside in a small bowl. (If you want to make your pad Thai vegetarian, substitute tofu for the chicken.)
  • Fish sauce (nam pla) — this is an essential ingredient; if you don’t have it on hand or prefer not to use it, try substituting soy sauce instead.
  • Lime juice — another key ingredient that adds brightness and acidity to the dish. You can use lemon juice if lime isn’t available at your grocery store or local market. If neither is available, add more fish sauce instead!
  • Soy sauce — another essential flavor component that gives pad Thai its distinctive salty taste and color. We recommend Kikkoman brand soy sauce because it has less sodium than other brands we have tried in the past so I would suggest using this one if possible but any will work fine here too so feel free to experiment with what works best for you based on how much sodium content you’re looking for per serving size.

Instructions

To make Pad Thai, you will need to do the following:

  • 2 cups uncooked rice noodles, preferably thin (rice) vermicelli noodles
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 eggs, beaten well in a small bowl with a fork or whisk. If you don’t have time to do this, just use regular raw eggs instead!
  • About four tablespoons of nam pla prik hot chili sauce (optional). If you can’t find this at your grocery store, just add more Sriracha and/or fish sauce instead; it’ll still be good even if there’s no chili in it at all! Just remember that adding too much of either ingredient will give the pad thai an overpowering flavor so try not to go overboard on either one—you want enough heat but not too much saltiness or sweetness either!

How to Garnish Pad Thai

Once you have made the Pad Thai, garnish it with lime zest and sprouts, roast peanuts, and the peanut chili sauce. You can also try curry sauce or scallions as a garnish.

What is Pad Thai Sauce Made of?

Pad Thai sauce consists of fish sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, and Tamarind paste. It is made up of tamarind pulp and pressed into a sieve for the making of a purée.

Where to Buy Pad Thai Ingredients

Top View of Pad Thai with Garnishes

If you want to make pad thai at home, but don’t know where to begin, don’t worry! You can find most of these ingredients either in your local grocery store or online.

The Pad Thai Noodles

You can find fresh rice noodles in the refrigerated section of your local Asian market or on Amazon.com. They are also sometimes called “e-fu noodles” or “fresh thick rice noodles.” If you can’t find them locally, they will be shipped quickly and efficiently through Amazon Prime!

Pad Thai Sauce

This sauce is easy enough to make with ingredients found at almost any grocery store. There are even good recipes online that tell you how to do it yourself without too much fussing around with measuring cups and spoons (although I still recommend having the right equipment on hand).

Pad Thai Variations

Seafood Pad Thai Top View

Pad Thai is a popular dish from Thailand that can be made with a variety of different proteins, including tofu, shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, and duck. Additionally, Pad Thai can also be made with a variety of different vegetables, making it a versatile and healthy dish.

Some variations on Pad Thai include:

  • Tofu Pad Thai: This variation uses tofu as the main protein and is a healthy alternative to the more traditional Pad Thai recipes that use meats.
  • Shrimp Pad Thai: This variation uses shrimp as the main protein, and is a popular choice for those who are looking for a seafood-based dish.
  • Chicken Pad Thai: This variation uses chicken as the main protein, and is a popular choice for those who are looking for a hearty dish
  • Beef Pad Thai: This variation of Pad Thai likely uses a form of sliced steak and is generally cooked with more concentration of soy sauce.
  • Pork Pad Thai: This variation of Pad Thai uses pork as the main protein, and is generally cooked with a sweeter sauce.
  • Duck Pad Thai: This variation uses duck as the main protein, and can be made with either fresh or frozen duck. This is usually made with duck sauce to give it more flavor.
  • Seafood Pad Thai: This variation uses a variety of seafood and is a good choice if you have access to high-quality, fresh seafood.

As you can see, there are many different ways that Pad Thai can be made, and each variation has its own unique flavor.

Tips for Cooking Pad Thai at Home

Fully Plated Shrimp Pad Thai Dish

There are a few key things to remember when cooking pad thai at home: First, you’ll need a wok or a large nonstick pan. This will allow you to cook the dish evenly and avoid sticking.

Second, use a large spatula and spoon. This will help you move the food around without it sticking, and also help you evenly distribute the sauce.

Third, use a mixing bowl, wooden spoon, and knife to cut up the veggies and meat. This will make it easier to add everything to the pan and ensure that everything is cooked evenly.

Is Pad Thai Good for You?

Pad Thai is a healthy meal. It’s a low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb, high-fiber, and high-protein meal. This dish is rich in nutrients like vitamin C and potassium which are essential for your body to function properly. The ingredients used are also very easy to find at the local market or supermarket so it’s convenient to make every day if you want.

Final Thoughts

After cooking Pad Thai for yourself, you will realize that it really is not difficult to make. The key is having the right ingredients, and a little bit of patience so that your dish turns out perfect every time. Remember that there are many variations on Pad Thai—these Pad Thai recipes just happen to be one of the many few.

FAQs

What is Pad Thai?

Pad Thai is a popular Thailand dish often consisting of rice noodles, shrimp, tofu, eggs, and peanuts. It’s often stir-fried with a variety of spices and seasonings to make it flavorful and hearty.

How do you make Pad Thai?

A common way to make Pad Thai is to stir-fry the noodles with the other ingredients. Once the noodles are cooked through, they’re added to a wok or frying pan along with the shrimp, tofu, eggs, and peanuts. Various spices and seasonings are then used to give the dish its signature flavor.

What are the best ingredients for Pad Thai?

There are many different ingredients used in Pad Thai, including shrimp, tofu, eggs, and peanuts. You can also find recipes that call for different vegetables or meats. The key to making a good Pad Thai is to use fresh ingredients and cook the dish until all the flavors have melded together.

Is Pad Thai healthy?

Pad Thai can be a healthy dish if it is made with fresh ingredients and cooked in a healthy way. Stir-frying is typically the best method for cooking Pad Thai, as it allows you to control the amount of oil and fat that is used. You can minimize the calories in Pad Thai if you substitute whole wheat noodles for rice noodles or use less oil when stir-frying.

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