What is Pad Thai Noodles?
Pad Thai noodles is a popular classic Thai dish made of shrimp or chicken or a combination of both with flat rice noodles, tofu, egg, bean sprout and peanuts in a savory sweet tangy sauce.
Authentic Pad Thai usually have chopped salted radish which is not commonly used in the United States.
This is a simple, quick and easy to prepare Thai noodle dish yet flavorful and fulfilling.
When I moved to the US, some 40 years ago, Pad Thai was already a popular dish along with other Thai food. It was easily embraced by many.
I have a friend who pours peanut sauce in his rice. That made me laugh so hard!
What’s in Pad Thai Sauce?
Tamarind gives Pad Thai it’s tangy distinct taste. Tamarind is a fruit with sweet and sour tangy pulp. This pulp is used to flavor food in many cuisine. It is used in stew, noodles, soup and desserts.
To make Pad Thai Sauce, use any of these options. These products are available in Asians stores. I doubt that it is available in your local grocer. I haven’t checked but Whole Foods, Trader Joes or Sprout might have it.
Authentic Pad Thai recipe use tamarind. Use any of these products. This measurement is for 7 oz noodles.
(1) 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons Tamarind concentrate – Also referred to as paste or puree. Add 2 parts water to 1 part concentrate and stir until combined. It is best if you can get something that is 100% Natural, No added sugar, Non-GMO, No Preservatives, Vegan, Gluten Free and made from pure tamarind pulp.
(2) 1 8oz Pad Thai Sauce – This is a ready made Pad Thai sauce made with sugar, shallot, peanut, garlic, fish sauce, tamarind, chili and other ingredients.
When I use this sauce, I still tweak the flavor to my taste. I add some sugar, vinegar, chili and tamarind mix.
(3) 1 ¼ tablespoons tamarind mix (sinigang mix) – Add 2 parts water to 1 part tamarind mix and stir until combined. This is Filipino’s version used for soup but luckily can be used to flavor Pad Thai too.
Other Ingredients Added to Thai Sauce
(1) Sugar - I use white granulated sugar but you can also use palm or brown sugar. In traditional Thai dish, they use palm sugar.
(2) Fish Sauce – Any brand of fish sauce will work. Thai don’t use soy sauce in Pad Thai instead they use fish sauce. Most Pad Thai dish are flavored with fish sauce.
It is pungent but believe me it adds so much flavor to food. It is hard for me to eat anything Asian without a side of fish sauce.
I know it might sound weird that I add fish sauce to beef or pork. Hey, it is very tasty.
Soy sauce is not commonly used in Thai cuisine.
(3) Vinegar – I like to add ½ tablespoon of white vinegar in the sauce per 7oz noodles. If you don’t like vinegar serve lime on the side. Vinegar is optional.
No Tamarind Ingredient, Try this!
(1)Ketchup - OK, if you have a hard time looking for any of the Tamarind options mentioned above, you can still make Pad Thai. Believe it or not, you can use KETCHUP.
Did you know some ketchup have tamarind as ingredient? Just as an FYI! Regular ketchup will do.
I have made it a few times using 3 tablespoons of ketchup with 1 tablespoon lime juice or ½ tablespoon white vinegar and it works. Again, I like to add vinegar to the sauce.
Next time, I will try to make it with our banana ketchup and reduce the sugar. I’m sure it will work!
(2) Another tamarind concentrate substitute is Lime Juice or Rice Wine Vinegar and brown sugar. Use 2 tablespoons lime juice, ½ tablespoon white vinegar (optional) and ¼ cup brown sugar (adjust sugar to your liking) or 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar and ½ cup brown sugar.
What Meat to Add to Pad Thai?
Shrimp and chicken are commonly used when making Pad Thai. You can use either/or or the combination of both. When I order out, I usually get shrimp/chicken combo.
If you prefer, you can use beef or pork. I don’t see why not, it is just common to use shrimp or chicken.
Add scrambled eggs, definitely.
If you don’t like any meat, double up on tofu and bean sprouts. It is still delicious.
What Other Ingredients to Add to Pad Thai?
I like to finish up my pad thai noodles with lots of chopped peanuts. If you like it spicy, go for it! I use cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
How to Prepare the Noodles?
I suggest that you read the noodle packaging. They usually tell you how to cook it.
(1) I prefer to boil the noodles in water. Cook until al dente then drain. I make this while cooking the other ingredients.
They stick with each other if left too long in room temperature. If that happens, dip in boiling water for a few seconds. Don’t over soak. Or much easier when added to sauce add about ¼ to ½ cup water.
(2) The other way is to soak noodles in hot water until soft or al dente. Read the packaging to be sure you can do it this way.
How to Make Pad Thai Noodles?
Making Pad Thai Noodles is a breeze. If you don’t have the tamarind ingredient, try ketchup or the rice wine vinegar as substitute. Let me know under comment if it passed your taste buds. When craving strikes, why not try it. Maybe you’ll like it ……….
(1) Prepare Ingredients. Chop peanuts. Slice tofu. Wash and cut vegetables. Wash, peel and devein shrimp.
(2) Boil noodles in water. Cook al dente. Drain.
(3) Make sauce.
(4) Fry tofu to light brown. Push to the side.
(5 – 7) Half cook egg and break into pieces. Push to the side.
(8) Cook onion for a couple of minutes then add garlic. Cook for a minute.
(9) Add sauce. Combine with onion and garlic.
(10) Add noodles. Pour ¼ to ½ water if noodles are sticking to each other.
(11) Mix noodles until evenly coated with sauce. Fish sauce or salt to taste.
(12) Stir-in bean sprout, green onion, peanuts and blend all ingredients. Turn off heat.
(13) In another pan, add oil over medium high heat. When oil is hot, stir-fry shrimp until pink. Don’t overcook.
(14) Mix shrimp with noodles. Serve hot with a side of lime wedges and more chopped peanuts.
Pad Thai Noodles
- 1 7 oz Pad Thai Rice Noodles
Pad Thai Sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoon tamarind concentrate
- 3 tablespoons water
- ½ tablespoon vinegar optional
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
Pad Thai Stir-Fry
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 oz to 16 oz firm tofu sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2 eggs slight beaten or whisk in skillet
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic cloves minced
- 2 pounds large shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 ½ cups bean sprouts add more if you like
- ½ cup green onion chopped 1 inch long
- ¾ cup unsalted peanuts chopped
- fish sauce or salt to taste
- cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to taste optional
- lime wedges
- chopped unsalted peanuts
- Prepare all your ingredients. Once you stir-fry, it will go quick so it is best to have everything ready.
- In a large pot, add 6 cups of water or half full. Put 7 oz Pad Thai noodles in boiling water, cook until al dente, then drain.
- In a small bowl, make the Pad Thai Sauce. Combine tamarind concentrate, water, sugar, fish sauce and vinegar (optional). Set aside. Note: When almost done and seasoning, add another ½ tablespoon or more sugar, if desired.
- Under NOTES - 2 more options to use for Pad Thai Sauce & if you cannot find tamarind, what to substitute with.
- In a skillet, add oil over medium heat.
- Stir-fry tofu until light brown. Push to one side of skillet.
- Half cook the scrambled egg and break into pieces. Push to the side.
- Add onion. Cook for a minute or two.
- Stir-in garlic. Cook for a minute.
- Pour Pad Thai Sauce. Combine with onion and garlic.
- Add cooked Pad Thai noodles. Note: If noodles stick to each other, add ¼ cup water. Mix noodles with sauce. Add another ¼ cup water, if needed. Give noodles a good toss until it is evenly coated with sauce.
- Fish sauce or salt to taste. Also, check if you need to add more sugar to your liking.
- Add chopped peanuts, bean sprouts, green onion and combine all ingredients including egg and tofu. Turn off heat.
- In a frying pan, add oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, quickly cook shrimp until pink.
- Add shrimp to Pad Thai.
- Serve it while hot with lime wedges and chopped peanuts on the side. Enjoy!