A wok might be the implement of choice in restaurants and the old country, but a large 12 in skillet (nonstick make cleanup easy) is more practical for home cooks. Although pad Thai cooks very quickly, the ingredient list is long, and everything must be prepared and within easy reach at the stovetop when you begin cooking. For maximum efficiency, use the time during which the tamarind and noodles cook to prepare the other ingredients. Tofu is a good and common addition to pad thai. If yo like, add 4 oz of extra firm tofu or pressed tofu (available in Asian markets), cut into ½ in cubes (about 1 cup), to the noodles along with the bean sprouts.
2 Tbsp Tamarind or Substitute
¾ c boiling water
3 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp Rice Vinigar
3 Tbsp Sugar
¾ tsp Cayenne Pepper
4 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
8 oz dried rice stick noodles about ¼ in wide
12 oz medium shrimp
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed though a garlic press
1 medium shallot, minced
2 Tbsp dried Shrimp, chopped fine (optional)
2 Tbsp chopped Thai salted preserved radish (optional)
6 Tbsp Chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
3 cups (6 oz) bean sprouts
5 medium scallions, green parts only, sliced thin on a sharp diagonal
¼ c loosely packed cilantro leaves (optional)
lime wedges for serving
- Rehydrate the tamarind paste in the boiling water. Stir in fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and 2 tbsp of oil into tamarind liquid and set aside.
- Cover the rice sticks with hot tap water in a large bowl; soak until softened, pliable, and limp but not fully tender, about 20 min. drain the noodles and set aside. Beat the eggs and 1/8 tsp salt in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in the 12 in skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add the shrimp and sprinkle with salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the shrimp are opaque and browned about the edges, about 3 min. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside.
- Off the heat, add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to skillet and swirl to coat; add the garlic and shallot, set the skillet over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown about 1 ½ min. add the beaten eggs to skillet and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until scrambled and barely moist, about 20, sec. Add rice noodles, dried shrimp, salted radish (if using) to eggs; toss with 2 wooden spoons to combine. Pour the fish sauce mix over noodles, increase the heat to high, cook while tossing constantly, until the noodles are evenly coated. Scatter ¼ c of peanuts, the bean sprouts, all ¼ c of scallions, and the cooked shrimp over the noodles; continue to cook, tossing continuously. Until noodles are tender, about 2 ½ min (if not tender add 2 tbsp of water to skillet and continue to cook until tender).
- Transfer the noodles to serving platter, sprinkle the remaining scallions and peanuts, cilantro. Serve immediately, passing the lime wedges separately.