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Pad Thai

Dan Toombs / 18 April 2021

The Curry Guy Dan Toombs shares his recipe for pad Thai, one of the most popular dishes served in Thai restaurants.

Pad Thai
Pad Thai from The Curry Guy Thai by Dan Toombs

Preparation time

20 minutes, plus soaking time

Cooking time

15 minutes

Serves

4

Ingredients

For the pad Thai

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp dried shrimp
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 100g (1⁄2 cup) firm tofu, sliced
  • 2 skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 jumbo prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined
  • 2 tsp salted turnip (optional)
  • 200g (7oz) dried rice noodles soaked in bath-hot water for 30 minutes or 400g (14oz) fresh noodles
  • 5 spring onions, cut into 5cm (2in) pieces
  • 150g (11⁄2 cups) bean sprouts, plus extra to garnish
  • 50g (1⁄4 cup) dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, crushed
  • 1 tsp roasted chilli flakes
  • Lime quarters, to serve

For the sauce

  • 5 tbsp Thai fish sauce*
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 70ml (1⁄4 cup) tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 1⁄2 tbsp white distilled vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sriracha sauce

*Many Thai fish sauces contain gluten but there are gluten-free brands available.

Method

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 the pan.

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 much flavour.

The Curry Guy Thai

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

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.