Lucinda’s Pad Thai

(adapted from several recipes but based heavily on the Pad Thai recipe of Kasma Loha-unchit posted at )


1/2 lb. dried rice noodles, either thin (1/4″) or fettucine (1/2″) width

3 Tbs. fish sauce, to taste
3 or more Tbs. tamarind juice the thickness of fruit concentrate, to taste (this can be made by soaking 1 oz. compressed tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup boiling water for about 30 minutes and then pressing it through a fine mesh strainer)
2 Tbs. palm or coconut sugar, to taste (in a pinch, use granulated sugar or brown sugar)
1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. chili paste with garlic

3 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup small dried shrimp
1/4 cup sweetened salted radish (Hua chai bpoh, sweetened version), rinsed well and chopped
3 cups fresh bean sprouts (reserve some for garnish)
1 cup garlic chives, cut into 1-1/2-inch-long segments (optional)

1/3 lb. fresh shrimp, shelled, deveined and butterflied
3/4 cup firm pressed tofu (or 8 oz. package of thai-flavor baked tofu), cut into thin strips about an inch long, half an inch wide and a quarter inch thick
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
3 eggs, lightly beaten

4-5 Tbs. peanut oil

2/3 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
1 lime, cut into small wedges
A few short cilantro sprigs
extra bean sprouts
4 green onions – trim off root tip and half of green leaves and place in a glass with white end in cold water to crisp (optional)

Prep Work
Prepare Tamarind Juice

If using compressed tamarind, prepare tamarind juice earlier in the day by pouring boiling water over the compressed tamarind. Wait about 10 minutes and then loosen the mixture with a fork. Allow to sit until nicely softened. Press through fine mesh sieve, scraping the juice/pulp into a bowl.

Soak the Noodles
Soak the dried rice noodles in warm tap water for 40 minutes to one hour, or until the noodles are limp but still firm to the touch. Once the noodles have softened, drain and set aside.

Mix the Sauce
Mix the fish sauce with the tamarind juice and palm sugar; stir well to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust flavors to the desired combination of salty, sour and sweet. Add the chili paste with garlic.

Prep the Veggies and Garnishes
Prepare the shallots, radish, garlic chives, peanuts, lime, and green onions as instructed (I rarely use all of these; choose those that appeal to you. I occasionally add some shredded carrots.)
Rinse and drain the bean sprouts. Rinse cilantro.

Prep the Protein(s)
Prepare the shrimp, tofu, chicken, and eggs as instructed above. (Once again, I rarely use all of these.)

If you haven’t already drained the noodles, do so now.

Heat large wok on high for 15-20 seconds.

  • If using shrimp, add 2 tsp. oil to wok and quickly stir-fry the shrimp until they turn pink and are almost cooked through. Salt lightly with a sprinkling of fish sauce and remove them from the wok.
  • If including tofu, add 1-2 Tbls. oil to wok and wait 20 to 30 seconds for it to heat. Add the tofu, frying 1 to 2 minutes, or until the pieces turn golden.
  • If including chicken, remove tofu from wok, add 1-2 Tbls. oil to wok and wait 20-30 seconds for it to heat. Add the chicken and stir fry until it loses its pink color and is almost fully cooked.

Return the tofu to the pan (if removed). Add sliced shallots and cook another 15 seconds. Then add the dried shrimp and sweetened salted radish (if using). Stir and heat through a few seconds.

Add the noodles and toss well with the ingredients in the wok. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes and when most of the noodles have changed texture and softened, push the mass up along one side of the wok. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the cleared area, wait about 10 seconds, add the beaten eggs and scramble lightly. When the eggs have set, cut into small chunks with the spatula and toss them in with the noodles.

Add the fish sauce/tamarind/sugar/chili seasoning mixture. Stir well to evenly coat noodles. If the noodles are still too firm to your liking, sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of water over them to help cook. Taste and adjust flavors as needed to your liking by adding more fish sauce or tamarind juice; if the noodles are not sweet enough, sprinkle in a small amount of granulated sugar.

When the noodles are cooked to your liking, toss in 2 of the 3 cups of bean sprouts and the garlic chives (if using). Sprinkle with half the chopped peanuts and return the shrimp to the wok. Stir and when the vegetables are partially wilted, transfer to a serving platter, or dish onto individual serving-size plates, and garnish with the remaining bean sprouts and chopped peanuts, the lime wedges, cilantro and green onions. Squeeze lime juice over each portion before eating.

© 2008 Lucinda DeWitt


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