Pad Thai

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Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Pad Thai, perhaps Thailand’s most infamous noodle dish, has dozens of incarnations—including several regional variations—each one a slightly different take on the mouthwatering combination of sweet, salty, and sour flavors. Some are super spicy, and some—like this recipe—are very mild. Regardless of your recipe, this is one of those dishes that’s all prep and very little actual cooking.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Pad Thai: The winner of our first Reader’s Choice Recipe Poll

Back in the beginning of June, we asked you all to vote for your which delicious-looking recipe from Cookstr.com you’d like to see demonstrated in The Hungry Mouse’s signature, step-by-step style.

This Pad Thai by Australian chefs Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner won our poll, with 55 of the 273 votes cast. You can also find it in their book, The Illustrated Kitchen Bible.

Deborah Madison’s Spring Rolls came in second, and Nick Malgieri’s Challah came in third. Look for step-by-step walk-throughs of those recipes in the weeks to come.

A little history about pad thai

One of Thailand’s national dishes, Pad Thai typically consists of rice noodles stir fried with a combination of eggs, another protein (shrimp, tofu, or chicken), peanuts, fish sauce, chili pepper, bean sprouts, and lime—along with any number of other ingredients, including tamarind juice, coriander, cabbage, banana flower, and preserved turnip.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Many hold that the dish is actually Vietnamese in origin, and was adapted to the Thai palate. A popular street food, vendors would wrap the noodles up in a bundle of banana leaves to feed hungry folks on the go. It was officially promoted by the Thai government during World War II, as part of an effort to reduce wartime consumption of rice (one of the country’s biggest exports at the time).

It continued to be a staple in the lean times that followed the war, with rice noodle shops and factories popping up all over the country as a way to help the people get by.

Ingredients in pad thai

Most larger supermarkets should carry some version of these ingredients. To track down these specific brands, your best bet it to hit up a big Asian grocer (or order them online). In the Boston area, we head to Chinatown or hit Super 88.

Rice Noodles—For this recipe, you’ll need wide, flat rice noodles. Think fettuccine.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Fish Sauce—Also known as nuoc mam. Like soy sauce, the fewer ingredients in fish sauce, the better. Look for bottles made only with anchovies, salt, and sugar.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Fish sauce is pungent stuff. It should be a rich brown color and as thin as water. (Looks a lot like my vanilla extract, doesn’t it?)

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

We like Golden Boy brand fish sauce a lot. If you can’t find it in person, you can order a 24-oz. bottle of the stuff here for just under $4. (I can’t imagine ever going through such a big bottle. But, the good news is that it doesn’t need to go in the fridge, so you can just stick it in a cabinet. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing it keeps forever.)

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Oyster Sauce—As with fish sauce, look for an oyster sauce whose first ingredient is, well…oysters. Oyster sauce is thick and syrupy.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

We like Lee Kum Kee Premium Oyster Flavored Sauce (order it online here for about $8). Steer clear of their Panda brand, whose first ingredients are water, sugar, and salt.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Shrimp—I don’t mind shelling and deveining shrimp myself. Click here for step-by-step photo instructions on how to clean the little beasties. Try cleaning shrimp under cold running water. It makes the whole operation a lot easier. (Or, if you’d rather skip it and save a little time, just buy them already cleaned.)

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Tips on cooking Pad Thai

  • Prep all the ingredients in advance. The whole dish takes about 5 minutes to cook, if that, so there’s no time to chop as you go.Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse
  • Cook it when you’re ready to eat. The leftovers are still tasty, but they pale in comparison to the hot-out-of-the-wok experience.
  • Use the largest wok or frying pan you have. All the ingredients, including the noodles, go into the pot and get tossed around.

Pad Thai

12 oz. (350g) flat rice noodles
boiling water
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 small hot red chile, seeded and finely chopped
9 oz. (250g) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 shallots, finely chopped
4 large eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
9 oz. (250g) bean sprouts
4 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1 lime cut into 4 wedges, for garnish

Serves about 4

Pad Thai: Prep all your ingredients

No, really. Do this all in advance.

Pad Thai at The Hungry MousePad Thai at The Hungry Mouse Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse Pad Thai at The Hungry MousePad Thai at The Hungry MousePad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Cook the rice noodles

Set a kettle of water on the stove over high heat to boil. Grab your rice noodles and toss them in a large mixing bowl.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

When your water is boiling, pour enough into the bowl to submerge your noodles.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

With a pair of tongs, scoot the noodles around to loosen them up and separate them.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Cover the bowl with some aluminum foil and let them soak for about 15 minutes, or until soft. (Give one a taste to see if they’re ready.)

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Drain the noodles and set them aside.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Mix the pad thai sauce

In a small bowl, add the lime juice, oyster sauce, and fish sauce.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Mix together to combine well. Set aside for a few minutes.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Stir fry the pad thai ingredients

Don’t start cooking until you can give it your full attention for 5 or 10 minutes. Once you start, the whole thing comes together really, really fast.

Heat a wok or large frying pan on the stove over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, and the chopped cilantro and chili pepper.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the shrimp. Stir to coat with oil, cilantro, and chili. Stir them around constantly—making sure to flip them over on both sides—for about a minute, until they’re just opaque.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

You want them to look about like this. They should be opaque on both sides, and will only be about 1/2 cooked through at this point.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Yank them out of the pan and set them aside for a minute on a plate.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Keep the heat on high (or drop it a little if your pan is starting to smoke).

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the hot pan. Toss in the chopped shallots. Stir fry for 1 minute.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Pour in the eggs.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the sugar.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Begin to stir the eggs immediately so they break up into bits as they cook. Cook for about 1 minute, until the eggs are totally scrambled.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Pour in the mixture of lime juice, fish sauce, and oyster sauce.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Stir around to distribute the sauce. Add the noodles to the pot.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the bean sprouts and shrimp.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Stir fry for another 2 minutes. This will help the all the flavors marry together and finish cooking those shrimp.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Sprinkle in the sliced scallions and half of the peanuts. Stir fry for another minute.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Pour the whole pan out into a large serving bowl. Garnish with lime wedges and the rest of the peanuts.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Serve immediately.

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Enjoy!

Pad Thai at The Hungry Mouse

Thanks again to our friends over at Cookstr.com. Look for our other Reader’s Choice winners soon! (And maybe I can even convince The Angry Chef to share his top-secret recipe for Pad Thai with us…)

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

19 COMMENTS

  1. I dont really consider this Pad Thai.. there is no oyster sauce in it.
    You were half right.. you need the Fish Sauce, but you need Tamarind Concentrate to give that other flavor to it, not Oyster Sauce.
    Looks like your pan was way too cold, since you were cooking eggs like it was breakfast and you put your sauce into your eggs.. you should have put in your noodles first and then pour your sauce over that to coat the noodles, not the eggs. Sorry, just know this isnt correct, since I have a thai friend whos family owns a thai restaurant.

    • Hey Mike,

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      Like I said…there are a lot of different takes on Pad Thai–some more authentic than others. The charge for this post was to cook Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner’s recipe by the numbers, which is exactly what I did.

      My own recipe for pad thai is a lot hotter and also includes tamarind. If your friend would share their recipe, by all means please post it back up here, so folks can have another version to try.

      All that said, this dish was still really, really good.

      Cheers!
      +Jessie

  2. Hey Jessie…confession: I’ve never eaten Pad Thai, or even really had the desire to, until I scrolled down you recipe page, and by the time I got to the bottom, I HAD to have it. We’re on the NC coast with fresh shrimp, so it was perfect!
    Can’t compare it to any other recipes since it’s my first taste, but I will say that it was delicious, easy, and my husband, who doesn’t really care for Asian food because of some ‘traveling food fiascos’, gave it a hearty thumbs up, which means, \Let’s have it again.\
    You were absolutely right about having all the ingredients ready before beginning to cook. It all happens in a hurry!
    Thank you for a great dinner!

  3. I have been looking for a great Pad Thai recipe since I first ever tried it. This looks so much like that first encounter that I must make this ASAP! Thankyouvery, very muchly Jessie, from all the way over here in Oz.

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