Perfect Pad Thai
Perfect Pad Thai. I know, the title is a bit presumptuous especially for a Scandinavian-German girl never trained in Thai cooking. Nor do I have a Thai grandmother. That said, I just have this thing for a truly authentic pad Thai. Every Thai restaurant I ever go to is measured on the taste of their pad Thai. I can’t ever get enough!! If I had to live on one cuisine for the rest of my life, it would be Thai food, hands down.
This Friday, it’s the hubs and my anniversary and every year we go out for Thai food to celebrate. Eleven years, and I’m still in love with that crazy man! We always save Thai food for date nights because my son is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts so taking him along to a Thai restaurant could be a dangerous situation.
After attempting to re-create a perfect pad Thai about a gazillion times over the course of about 4 years, I learned a lot and finally hit on the combination that I believe to be perfection.
A few of my learnings:
- Do NOT skimp on the oil. This is necessary to prevent the noodles from sticking. I’ve tried using less multiple times because it seems like a lot of oil. It ended up in a shredded sticky rice noodle mess EVERY time. Plus, if you’re using coconut oil, it’s actually a healthy fat so oil on up!
- Authentic ingredients make ALL the difference. I think the biggest secret is the preserved radish which I recently discovered and can be found in Asian supermarkets. It’ll still be good without that ingredient but if you can get it, it certainly makes it that much better. I also use a tamarind concentrate and coconut palm sugar rather than white sugar as this too, is key to its authenticity.
The only part of this recipe that alters from true authenticity is the peanuts. I’m proud to say that my son can eat this pad Thai with abandon as the nutty taste comes from sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) rather than crushed peanuts but feel free to use crushed peanuts for true authenticity if you desire as I’ve noted both in the recipe. I hope you enjoy this perfect pad Thai as much as I do!!!
- 8 oz Thai rice noodles
- 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon preserved radish
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 3 cloves chopped garlic
- 1 pound chicken breast or thighs cut into bite size cubes (or use tofu or other protein combo of your choice)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon sunbutter (or ¼ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, crushed)
- 1 cup (or more) bean sprouts
- 4 green onions, chopped (white and green parts separated)
- 1 teaspoon crushed Thai chili peppers (or adjust to your desired spice level)
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
- lime or lemon wedges to squeeze on top when serving
- Soak rice noodles in lukewarm water for at least 1 hour. Chop garlic, green onion, cilantro, chicken or other protein while you wait.
- Prepare the sauce by combining tamarind, water, vinegar, fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice and radish in a small dish. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a wok or large sauté pan.
- When oil is hot, add garlic and stir fry one minute. Add white part of onion and the chicken (or other protein). Stir fry until chicken is no longer pink on the outside.
- Break eggs into wok and let them fry without breaking them up 1-2 minutes.
- Drain noodles and add to wok, giving them a quick fold to break up the eggs.
- Add tamarind sauce mixture and the sunbutter (or ⅔ of the peanuts if using) and stir fry 2-3 minutes.
- Add bean sprouts, cilantro, crushed peppers and the onion greens. Stir to combine.
- Remove from heat and transfer to serving dish.
- Top with additional cilantro, crushed peppers, remaining peanuts (if using), onion greens and a squeeze of lime or lemon.
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