Pad Thai is what most people’s understanding of Thai food is.
Pad Thai is mostly fried rice noodles with a bunch of stuff in it. I love Pad Thai, and I have eaten my fair share of it.
Recently, I traveled to Thailand for a month. In that month long adventure, I signed up for three separate cooking classes. I did this for future content on my website and to learn how to teach people about Thai food. So many people do not know about Thai food, but for now, I will keep to a classic.
The cooking classes in the northern mountains of Chiang Mai, Thailand are particularly useful. Every teacher had worked in prominent restaurants across the country and figured out a good niche for them to get out of the grueling world of cooking. Teaching foreigners about their cuisine are their bread and butter but the fact that most cooking classes in Chiang Mai, Thailand are taught by incredibly engaging, passionate teachers makes the experience even better.
The following Pad Thai recipe is a mixture of me cooking this dish over the years and what I learned at these remarkable cooking classes.
The first thing that most people overlook is the difference between granulated sugar and palm sugar. This recipe uses the latter.
Palm sugar has a much more vibrant flavor than just regular white sugar, and most dishes in Thailand use this ingredient. You can find this ingredient on Amazon or in the international section of most grocery stores. Palm sugar comes as golden-brown circular disks of pure sweetness. It is just as shelf-stable as regular sugar.
Also, it is worth getting fresh rice noodles that require refrigeration.
You can find these in any Asian store. You will know the difference between fresh noodles and dry noodles if you see a random package of these noodles in the fridge section. It will likely say Pad Thai noodles, though that’s not what the product name is.
My favorite Pad Thai that I have ever had has pickled radish and carrots in it.
I think most people cannot tell the difference between fresh carrots and pickled carrots, so I kept them as fresh carrots. I did keep the pickled radish, though. In any kitchen I am at, I always try to keep a variety of freshly pickled vegetables on hand but if you don’t know how, cut up a bunch of radishes, dump 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 tbsp. salt. Let it sit for a few hours or a few days.
Another point I should make is that no matter if you have chicken or any other meat in your Pad Thai, almost every single Pad Thai served has tofu in it. The tofu that Thai people use in this has a coating of turmeric powder. This powder gives it a yellow shell when you cut it up into small pieces, though you can always just use plain tofu.
Here’s the Recipe:
Pad Thai (Thai Fried Noodles)
- 3 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Shallot (or white onion), chopped finely
- 1 Tbsp. Sweet Pickled Radish, chopped (can be regular radish)
- 1 Tbsp. Dried shrimp (found in Asian markets), optional
- 2 oz. chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 oz. tofu, diced
- 1 egg
- 4 oz. thin rice noodles, soaked for 5 minutes
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 oz. bean sprouts
- 5 green onion, cut into 1” lengths
- 1 oz. shredded carrots
- 2 Tbsp. Cooking oil
Pad Thai Sauce:
- Chili Powder
- Ground Peanuts
- Lime Juice
- Fresh Bean Sprout
- Chopped Green Onion
Pad Thai Sauce
- Put tamarind paste in a pot. Add palm sugar and fish sauce until palm sugar becomes dissolved. Stir until mixture becomes thick and take off heat. Cool and put in a jar. Pad thai sauce can be kept in a jar for two months. (I keep a mason jar full of this stuff for quick meals)
- Put together your toppings onto a small plate. Make sure there are enough toppings for each serving.
- Heat the oil in a wok or thin frying pan on medium heat. Add garlic, shallots, and radish. Cook until fragrant, just a few minutes.
- Add chicken, tofu, and dried shrimp. Stir until chicken becomes thoroughly cooked. Add the rice noodles and water. Stir until noodles are tender and add about 2 tbsp. Pad Thai sauce. Mix well.
- Push your noodles to the side of the wok and break the egg into the pan. Cook the eggs and mix it into the noodles. Then add bean sprouts, green onion, and carrots and mix.
- Turn off the heat and serve with the toppings platter. Season to taste with your toppings and enjoy!
You have to use high temperatures when cooking Pad Thai.
If you do not get a good sear on the chicken or your pan is not hot enough when you add your tofu and egg, you could be eating a soggy Pad Thai.
If you think this version is too dry, just add a little more Pad Thai sauce next time! Also, if you enjoy more heat in your dish, you can either crush up a Thai chili pepper and add it with your garlic at the beginning or add your dried chili pepper at the beginning.
Let me know what you think in the comment section below! I love Thai food, and over the next few weeks, I will be featuring a few more Thai recipes.
Also, if you enjoyed this recipe check out some of my other recipes, along with tips on how to use them with this dish!
Gyoza – Japanese Dumplings, A great starter to Pad Thai!
Grilled Chicken Thighs, if you have leftover grilled chicken, use it for this Pad Thai recipe! Just add it near the end of cooking, and it will give you a nice grilled flavor!