An extremely popular Thai noodle dish is authentic pad thai with shrimp. The real way to make this classic recipe is with tamarind, not lime juice and definitely not peanut butter. This better than takeout pad thai is easy, delicious, and super fast (ready in less than 30 minutes)!
2tablespoonspacked light brown sugar(or 3 tablespoons packed grated palm sugar)
1 to 2tablespoonsvegetable oilor as needed
4clovesgarlicminced or crushed
12 to 14(about 9 to 10 ounces) large shrimpthawed if frozen, peeled with tails left on, and deveined
2cups(4 ½ to 5 ounces) mung bean sprouts
¼cuproughly chopped peanuts(pulsing in a small food processor/chopper works great)
Lime wedgesfor serving
Add the rice noodles to a pot of boiling water, lower the heat and boil for 3 minutes. The noodles should be softened but still firmer than al dente. They will continue to cook later. Drain and rinse well with cold water. Use kitchen shears to snip the noodles once in half. This will make it a lot easier to fry and eat them.
To make the sauce, stir together the tamarind, brown sugar, and fish sauce until smooth.
Heat a wok over high heat and add about 1 to 2 tablespoons oil (if you’re using a non-stick wok you won’t need a lot). Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and stir-fry for no longer than a minute (as it tends to burn).
Add the drained noodles and stir for a few seconds. Add the sauce and keep tossing the noodles until they begin to absorb some of the sauce and continue to soften (I use a non-stick wok, but if yours starts to stick, you can add more oil as needed). Add the shrimp and keep stirring until they begin to turn pink, a couple more minutes.
Push the noodles and shrimp to one side (the shrimp will continue to cook so don’t worry if they aren’t completely pink yet) and pour the beaten eggs into the empty space in the wok. Allow the eggs to set for a minute and then stir to scramble it with the rest of the ingredients.
Add the bean sprouts and stir-fry for another minute or two until they are crisp-tender and the noodles have a nice chewy texture. Add half the scallions, toss one final time and remove from the heat.
Divide the Pad Thai evenly over two plates, distributing the shrimp evenly. Garnish with the remaining scallions, chopped peanuts, and lime wedges. Serve immediately.
Do not double this recipe. If you intend to feed a larger group, stir-fry the pad thai in batches. Attempting to double it in one batch becomes unwieldy and very difficult to properly stir-fry.
You can purchase tamarind puree concentrate online, in well-stocked supermarkets, and in Asian markets. Ideally, purchase a Thai or Vietnamese brand in order to have the right texture and flavor balance for this recipe.
If you need to replace the fish sauce for dietary reasons, you can try a vegan fish sauce, coconut aminos, or a combination of soy sauce and vinegar, although the flavor will be slightly different in each case.
You can easily make chicken pad thai by replacing the shrimp with a thinly sliced chicken breast. Cook the chicken breast first, then remove it from the wok, continue with the recipe as directed, and add the cooked chicken back when you add the bean sprouts. You can also make this recipe with leftover cooked chicken!
To make this with tofu, simply cube it up and cook it in a little oil as you would with the chicken as described above. Remove it from the pan and continue with the remaining steps, adding it back later with the bean sprouts. If you are making this dish vegetarian or vegan, omit the eggs and use a substitution for the fish sauce.