Pad Thai with just the right balance of sour, sweet and salty. Adapted from the long out of print Thai Home-Cooking from Kamolmal’s Kitchen (Plume)
¼ lb dried rice noodles (flat ones not “rice sticks”)
2 T fish sauce (I use
3 T sugar
3 T white vinegar
½ t paprika*
4 T peanut or other vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1 T or more finely chopped garlic
4 oz. or more protein (optional): shrimp, chicken or tofu
4 fat green onions sliced on the bias into 2” lengths, including some green
½ lb bean sprouts
Cilantro leaves (for garnish)
Finely chopped unsalted peanut (for garnish)
Lime wedges (for garnish)
Chili pepper flakes (for garnish)
Method: Soak noodles in hot (not boiling water) until they are flexible but not limp, about 15 minutes, then drain and set aside. This is a critical step: if you oversoak your noodles here, you will end up with mushy pad thai. Don’t do it.
Mix fish sauce, sugar, vinegar and paprika in a jar or cup till dried ingredients are dissolved.
Heat oil in wok until very hot; add garlic which should brown quickly without burning. Add optional protein and stir-fry till barely done. Add green onions. Break the egg into the wok and quickly stir with a wooden spoon to distribute as it cooks. Add noodles and flip a few times to coat with oil and egg. Add sauce liquid and boil until sauce has been absorbed by the noodles. (If they are still crispy after all the liquid is gone, add a bit more water.)
Add bean sprouts and toss in the noodles briefly; the heat of the dish will cook the sprouts. Serve with a garnish of pepper flakes, lime, cilantro and ground peanut.
Serves 2 as an entrée, or 4 as a side dish
*You can substitute tamarind, which is the traditional tart ingredient but a little more work. Pour 1/2 c hot water over 1/4 c chunk of “seeded” (it isn’t) tamarind and allow to soften and cool for a few minutes. Rub the tamarind between your fingers and remove seeds and large pieces of pulp. You’ll end up with about 1/4 c of tamarind gravy which should be added at the same time as the vinegar/sugar/fish sauce mixture.
THIS RECIPE HAS BEEN UPDATED as of 10/13; I realized I wasn’t using enough oil initially to separate the noodles.