Pad Thai

posted in: Asian, Main Dish, Pasta        date:

Pad Thai

Pad Thai, until recently, was something I never considered making at home. The seemingly long ingredient list, coupled with my fear of not being able to recreate the dish I’m used to, kept me from cooking it for a long time. However, when I was browsing through the cookbook my friend Andrew got me for my birthday and found a recipe for Pad Thai, I knew it was only a matter of time before I tackled it at home. Last weekend, I told Eric that we couldn’t put it off any longer. After a trip to the Asian market (along with a couple texts to our friends Katy and Juli) and a small amount of our Saturday afternoon, we had a delicious dinner that we didn’t need to go out for.

Pad Thai is actually quite simple to make. All the prep work is done while the noodles are soaking, and the cooking process moves pretty quickly once it starts. That’s why it’s so important with this recipe to have everything in place before you start cooking. As far as flavor goes, we were blown away. The noodles, which can sometimes be sticky, were perfectly tender. The salty, spicy sauce was light and flavorful and just coated the noodles. The soft eggs, crunchy peanuts and crisp green onions all add texture to the final product. I’ll come right out and say that I changed the authenticity of this dish by substituting chicken for shrimp. If you prefer the shrimp version, simply substitute 12 ounces of peeled and deveined shrimp in place of the chicken.

Pad Thai

  • YIELD: 4 servings
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate*

  • ⅔ cup hot water

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

  • 8 ounces dried rice noodles about ⅛-inch wide

  • 2 eggs

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 2 chicken breasts, 12-16 ounces total

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 medium shallot, minced

  • 6 tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts

  • 3 cups (6 ounces) bean sprouts

  • 5 green onions, green parts only, sliced thin on a sharp bias

  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)


Tamarind concentrate can be found in Asian grocery stores. If you are unable to find it, substitute ⅓ cup of lime juice and ⅓ cup of water in place of the tamarind concentrate and light brown sugar in place of the granulated sugar. Do not serve this version with lime wedges.

  • 1

    In a small bowl, dissolve tamarind concentrate in hot water. Stir in fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne and 2 tablespoons of oil and set aside.

    Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Soak until softened and pliable but not completely tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. Whisk together eggs and ⅛ teaspoon of salt in a small bowl and set aside.

  • 2

    Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper and cut into bite-size pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat for about 2 minutes, or until just beginning to smoke. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

  • 3

    Off heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil to skillet and swirl to coat. Add garlic and shallot and return pan to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes or until light golden brown. Add eggs and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until scrambled, about 20 seconds. Add noodles and toss to combine. Pour the tamarind mixture over the noodles and increase heat to high. Cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce.

  • 4

    Add ¼ cup of peanuts, bean sprouts, chicken and all but ¼ cup of green onions to the noodles. Continue tossing until well combined and noodles are tender, 2-3 minutes. If noodles are not yet tender, add 2 tablespoons of water to skillet and continue cooking.

    Transfer to serving dishes and sprinkle with remaining green onions and peanuts. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

COMMENTS: ( 20 )
  • I love making pad thai at home! We hardly order it out anymore. Your pictures are stunning! I can never get this dish to photograph well.

  • Rachel loves Pad Thai! She always gets it when we order out. Like you said, the ingredient list scared us away from trying to make it ourselves. But it sounds like it’s pretty straight forward so long as you prep before starting to cook.

  • Best. Cookbook. Ever. I too have been intimidated by pad thai at home, but after reading your post, can’t wait to get into the kitchen and try this. Between Elly’s post drunken noodle post earlier this week, and now this…I’m going to be taking a trip to the Asian market this weekend for sure!

  • Pad Thai is one of my favorites! This looks delicious and easy to adapt for vegetarians. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • I love, love, love pad thai but rarely make it at home. There’s an international grocery store not too far from us, but I still haven’t sucked it up and made a trip!

  • Your photo is gorgeous! Looks great.

  • I love pad thai! Definitely one of my favorite dishes to order when we go out! Delicious! 🙂

  • I love Pad Thai but have always been scared to try it at home; you made it sound straightforward and simple, despite the long ingredient list! Maybe I’ll have to try it after all 🙂

  • Pad Thai is a favorite of mine! I’ve made it at home once before but this version looks even better!

  • This really looks wonderful and I love the way you’ve plated it. This is my first visit to your blog and I’v spent some time browsing through your earlier posts. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  • Kim

    This looks amazing and you are right it is one of those dishes you don’t even try to tackle. I’m going to check out the new huge Asian supermarket, New York Mark, in NYC this weekend, so I’ll get my ingredients.

  • I had the same experience with making Pad Thai. I was nervous beyond belief about it but, by doing the prep work ahead of time, I had a yummy dish on the table quicker than I thought I could. Your dish looks awesome! Now the question is: when will we get to make it together?

    • Courtney

      Soon, I hope! Wouldn’t that be awesome?!

  • Pam

    Pad thai is a favorite dish of mine, but I have only eaten it in restaurants. It is interesting to see how it is created from scratch. Thanks for sharing.

  • Yum! One of my favorite meals, but I can never make myself buy the fish sauce and rice vinegar since I don’t think I’ll really use them. It might be time to get them!

  • Holly

    I made this recipe with my friends last week it is great! Thanks so much for this it is so simple and easy

  • The first time I tried to make Pad Thai at home it was a disaster. Partly because of the noodles and partly because of the sauce recipe I tried. This looks much more promising! Can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Michael

    I know I’m late to the party but I thought I would weigh in considering my extensive career in the thai food business.

    This recipe looks fantastic!

    A few substitutions could make it even better. Instead of using regular sugar, use brown palm sugar (it’s impossible to find among all the stuff in the asian store, but it’s there) for a little more authenticity.

    Lime wedges on the side are a must.

    And if you like your noodles to have a more lively color, sprinkle in some paprika before you plate it (that’s what they do at Surin).

    Instead of using tamarind concentrate, I’ve found tamarind paste to be even better. It comes in huge jars though, so if you aren’t using it frequently it will go bad.

    Anyway, delicious recipe, cook on sistah!

    • Courtney

      We actually have palm sugar in our pantry, so I’ll definitely try that next time. We wanted tamarind concentrate but, like you said, could only find a huge jar of it. I like the tip about the paprika too and never would have thought of that. As always, you’ve got great tips! Thanks!

  • Erin

    Making Pad Thai from scratch always seemed like a daunting task, so I avoided it. After seeing this recipe, I decided to give it a go. Luckily, I live close to an Asian market, so finding tamarind concentrate wasn’t very hard (or expensive, the jar was only $2.50). Let me tell you, this was delicious! I was so pleased with how this turned out. I can’t wait to make it again!