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Pad Thai is quite possibly the most famous Thai dish known worldwide. You could think of it as the global ambassador for the glories of Thai food - a little spicy, a little sweet, and a whole lot of delicious.
This street food is quick and therefore apparently simple but its not as easy as it looks to get it perfect. But don’t worry, as long as you follow these tips and instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems making the famous stir-fried rice noodle dish yourself at home.
1: COOKING TOOLS
First off, the pan and the amount being cooked at one time is very important. As far as the pan goes, the larger the surface are the better because it encourages evaporation - something that is crucial to creating well-seasoned noodle strands that are entirely cooked through while retaining a bit of chewiness. For best results, use a large flat pan. Although, a wok works as well and it is what you will typically see being used because it’s easy to push the noodles off to the side away from the heat while cooking the eggs and meat, prawns, or tofu. Also, important is to cook one portion at a time to avoid clumps of oily, sticky noodles from forming.
The noodles have to be soaked in cold water before use. You will use "rice sticks" – dried thin, flat noodles known as sen lek, 3-5mm wide. Soak them until they are soft enough to bend easily like al dente pasta.
The sauce has to be premade ready to go because if you go to add each ingredient individually into the pan as your cooking it the noodles will turn gooey and the protein will turn chewy.
You can add a splash of water to the pan before adding the sauce to help that the noodles don’t clump together. Another little tip is to melt the sauce (the sugar in the sauce) beforehand. The sauce you can adjust to your taste liking depending on what you find to be the perfect balance of sweet, salty and sour.
This part is a total free for all. You can add chicken, pork, seafood, tofu, etc. Those tiny little dried shrimp you see in street pad thai are protein as well and they add a subtle fishy savouriness.
Garlic and a sprinkle of chopped shallots or chives are lovely.
Now, keeping all that in mind, here's a recipe for you to test out your skills in the kitchen!
The recipe is for 1 serving...so just multiply the amount for however many servings you want to make...but remember!...only cook one plate worth at a time.
60g 2-3mm wide flat rice sticks
30ml fish sauce
30ml tamarind water (you can use tamarind concentrate, thinned with a little water)
30g palm sugar
Pinch of chilli powder, to taste
40ml groundnut or vegetable oil
1 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
50g extra-firm tofu, chopped into small cubes
4 large prawns
1 large eggs, ready cracked
13g preserved salted radish, chopped
1/2 tbsp small dried shrimp
2 stalks Chinese chives, chopped
25g roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
Lime wedges, chilli flakes, fish sauce and sugar, to garnish
Put the pan to high heat, add half the oil, and have all the ingredients ready, pre-prepared as mentioned above (the noodles soaked and pliable, the sauce mixed and melted, and the protein chopped).
First add the garlic and fry for a few seconds before adding the noodles. Once you add the noodles, add a splash of water and keep stirring until they’ve dried out (no water in the pan) then add the sauce. Keep stirring until the noodles have turned soft but are still chewy.
Next, push the noodles off the heat and add the rest of the oil to fry the protein until its golden, then push that to the side too.
Last but not least, the egg...crack it in and let the white part cook then pierce the yolk and scramble it all up. Quickly bring in all the stuff you pushed to the side and mix everything together. Add the radish, dried shrimp, beansprouts, chives and peanuts and stir until everything is well combined.
Serve and enjoy!