Probably the most famous of Thai noodle dishes, pad thai wasn’t served until 1939. The Thais had been consuming rice noodles for centuries, but at that time Chinese wheat noodles were very popular in Thailand. Seeking to promote Thai nationalism, the then prime minister, Plaek Phibunsongkhram, not only supported changing the name of the country from Siam to Thailand, he also sought to promote cooking with rice noodles as a way of eliminating Chinese influence and cooking more with rice, which grows in abundance in the country. Pad thai is now served at pretty much every Thai restaurant and takeaway. This is my version of the dish.
To make the pad Thai
Start by mixing the sauce ingredients in a bowl, adjusting to taste as
necessary. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat. When it begins to shimmer,
add the dried shrimp and garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add
the tofu and chicken and brown in the oil for about a minute.
Push all of these ingredients to the side of the wok and crack the
eggs into the empty side. Allow them to cook for about a minute and
then stir the par-cooked egg into the other ingredients.
Add the prawns (shrimp) and let them cook with the other
ingredients until about half cooked through. This should only take
about a minute or two. Then add the sauce.
Stir in the salted turnip (if using) and the soaked or fresh rice
noodles until the noodles are nicely coated in the sauce mixture.
Fold in the spring onions (scallions) and bean sprouts – the hot
noodles will cook the sprouts and onions but you are only really
steaming them. Stir in half of the crushed peanuts and continue
cooking until the noodles look wet but there isn’t a lot of sauce left.
You don’t want the noodles dripping with sauce, they should just be
moist from having cooked in the sauce.
Transfer to four heated plates and garnish with the remaining
peanuts, the roasted chilli flakes and remaining bean sprouts. Serve
with lime wedges.
To make your own sriracha sauce
Makes: 250ml (1 cup)
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus fermenting time
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 225g (8oz) red bird’s eye chillies
- 225g (8oz) red spur chillies
- 10 garlic cloves
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp palm sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 70ml (1⁄4 cup) distilled white vinegar
Put the chillies, garlic cloves, sugar and salt in a
food processor and blend to a coarse paste. Scoop
it all into a glass bowl and cover with cling film
(plastic wrap). Leave to ferment for 2 days at room
temperature. You will know that it is fermenting
nicely when small bubbles appear on top. Uncover
and stir well and then cover again and leave for
3 more days, stirring every 24 hours or so.
On the fifth day, pour the mixture into a
blender with 70ml (1⁄4 cup) of water and the
vinegar and blend until very smooth. Pass the
smooth paste through a fine sieve into a saucepan,
pushing down on the solids with the back of a
spoon to try and get as much as possible into
Cook over a medium–high heat until it begins
to simmer and then reduce the heat to medium
and cook for about 15 minutes to thicken. Pour
into sterilized glass jars to
cool and then cover with the lids. This sauce will
keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks without losing
Extracted from The Curry Guy Thai by Dan Toombs, Quadrille, £15
Try one of our other Thai recipes, including massaman yellow Thai curry, vegetable Thai curry and more