Pad Thai Summary

Pad Thai is the national dish of Thailand. It simply means "fried Thai." The dish traditionally has a sweet/savory tamerind and fish sauce base and can be range in spiciness from non-existant to blazingly hot. The authentic Thai version is typically prepared mild and any additional seasoning is left up to the patron as the dish is generally served with a variety of condiments; it is enjoyed with peanuts, green onions, chili paste, lime juice, and an thai iced tea to drink.



2-4 TB of tamarind paste or concentrate (to taste)
3/4 cup boiling or hot water (see direction 1)
3 TB or fish sauce
1 TB rice vinegar
3 TB sugar
3/4-2 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
3 TB peanut or vegetable oil
8 oz. dried rice stick noodles, about 1/8 in. wide (the width of linguine)
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
12 oz. prepared shrimp, beef, chicken, tofu, etc.
3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3TB)
2 TB dried shrimp, chopped fine (optional)
2 TB chopped Thai saled preserved radish (optional)
6 TB chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
3 cups (6 oz.) bean sprouts
6 medium scallions, green parts only, sliced thin on sharp bias
1/4 cup loosly packed cilantro leaves (optional)
Lime wedges


  1. Preparse tamarind paste in 3/4 cup boiling water or add tamarind concentrate to 3/4 cup of hot water. Stir in fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and 2 TB of oil into tamarind liquid and set aside.
  2. Cover rice sticks with hot tap water in a large bowl; soak until softened, pliable, and limp but not fully tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Beat eggs and 1/8 tsp. salt in small bowl and set aside.
  4. Heat wok or large skillet to medium heat, add oil and swirl to coat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring constantly until light golden brown, about 1 and 1/2 minutes; add eggs to pan and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until scrambled and barely moist, about 20 seconds. Add noodles, dried shrimp, and salted radish (if using) to eggs; toss with 2 wooden spoons to combine. Pour fish sauce mixture over noodles, increase heat to high, and cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are evenly coated. Scatter 1/4 cup peanuts, bean sprouts, all but 1/4 cup scallions, and cooked meat over noodles; continue to cook until noodles are tender, about 2 1/2 minutes (if not yet tender, add 2 TB water to pan and continue to cook until tender).
  5. Transfer noodles to serving platter, sprinkle with remaining scallions, 2 TB peanuts, and cilantro; serve immediately, passing lime wedges seperately.
03/29/2003: Revised to be more accurate and include my favorite recipe.
*: adapted from Cook's Magazine, July & August 2002.
(as usual, this is vegan)

3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons ketchup (anthropod suggests, substitute tamarind)
1 tablespoon unrefined sugar (turbinado)
1/4 cup soy sauce (fish sauce)

3/4 pound mung bean sprouts
6 ounces rice noodles
3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon ginger (minced)
3-4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon red chili (minced) or 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper
2 cups carrots (grated)
2/3 cup peanuts (chopped)
1 cup scallions (chopped)

Before cooking, it is important to prepare all of your ingredients. Chop everything up and have it ready so that it can go in at just the right moment, it will make this much easier.

Mix the sauce ingredients together, you may wish to vary the proportions to your individual taste.

If it is possible, try to have the noodles cooking concurrently while you are putting all the rest of this together, otherwise just cook them after all the other ingredients have been prepared and try not to let them sit around too long. Bring water to a boil and cook the noodles for 5-10 minutes until tender but firm. Drain them and then rinse and let sit in cold water.

In a large wok (operating at medium to high temperature) : heat the oil and add in the garlic, chilli, and ginger. Stir this around for a couple minutes, then add the tofu and continue to stir somewhat frequently until it begins to brown lightly. Now add the carrots and continue to stir. After a few more minutes add in the noodles and sprouts. Stir. Add in the peanuts and scallions, stir more and then serve.

This ought to yield enough to feed three people, but if they are very hungry people and wish to be so full they cannot walk, then double the recipe.
(Rather less than vegan version. I got this recipe from my mom; I don't know where she got it from.)

4 T tamarind juice (or 1/4 cup tamarind paste and 1/4 cup warm water, directions at bottom)
3 T fish sauce (soy sauce works too)
2 T sugar (unrefined sugar tastes best)
2 T lime juice

1/2 lb. rice noodles
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 T minced ginger (I really like ginger; you can use less)
Half of a skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced (around 4 oz)
4 oz fried tofu, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
8 large shelled and deveined shrimp
2 eggs
6 T roasted unsalted peanuts, blended or chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
2 stems from a green onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tsp roasted chiles (more to taste)

Strips of red pepper
Coriander leaves (fresh, not dried)
Wedges of lime

Nota bene: A couple things. First, pukesick ain't kidding about having stuff ready to go - look at the cooking times, everything needs to be done quick. That's why I've listed all the ingredients in their prepared states. When I make this, I have everything ready to go, in order and in bowls, like that freak Martha Stewart. Getting the timing down might take a few tries, but it comes eventually (you can do it slower by reducing the heat of the oil and cooking longer, but I don't think it tastes as good) Second, I know half a cup looks like an absurd amount of oil, but I can tell you from experience that you need it (or at least I did). Otherwise, the noodles stick together and taste gross. Once you get the timing down you can start cutting down the oil, but the less oil you use, the faster you have to go. I usually fill half a cup, add around 2/3 of it, and keep the rest handy if I need it.Third, Americans go by recipes too much. You can add more or less of whatever's in my recipe, or your own stuff. For example, I have a friend who doesn't use any ginger (blasphemy!), but throws just a load of bean sprouts and broccoli in there. Zucchini added at the same time as the sprouts might be interesting, and quite colorful.

Here we go!

  1. Completely submerge noodles in cold water for at least 1 hour.
  2. Add the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice to your tamarind juice. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok (or large frying pan) until it is almost smoking.
  4. Add garlic and ginger and stir for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add chicken and stir-fry for about a minute.
  6. Add tofu and shrimp, stir-fry for another minute.
  7. Break eggs into wok and let them fry without breaking them up for 1-2 minutes, until they're firm..
  8. While eggs cook, quickly drain the noodles and then add to wok. Quickly fold them in, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Go from the bottom up, it's easier.
  9. Add sauce and continue stir-frying, mixing everything together for just a couple minutes. The noodles will soften up.
  10. Add about half of the peanuts (just eyeball it) and stir. Add the bean sprouts and all the green onion pieces and the chiles. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds and take off the heat.
  11. Garnish with the rest of the ground peanuts, some strips of red pepper and fresh coriander leaves (more bean sprouts too, if you like them uncooked). Transfer the pad thai to a big bowl, and serve immediately. Stick a couple of lime wedges on the side. Goes great with iced tea.

To make tamarind juice: You can get tamarind paste in most any oriental food store. Soak tamarind paste in warm water for around 20 minutes. Mash it up until it looks like mud, then a strainer into a bowl, and then the mud into the strainer. Squish and mash the mud onto the side, forcing the juice into the bowl, then scrape off the juice at the bottom of the strainer. Presto! Tamarind juice! Throw the solid stuff out, or keep it for... something. I dunno. More tamarind juice?

Uncle Chev’s Just for Two not-quite-vegetarian Phad Thai

Straight from super-cool old lady living in a little village along the hiking trails of southern Thailand, this recipe has nothing terribly complicated in the way of contents, as ingredients should be in any old vanilla supermarket or oriental grocery. However, by adjusting slightly the chilli, you can customize the outcome anywhere along the spicy continum from socially palatable to insidious to outright barbaric. The lime juice also brings a lot to the party, but the overall end result is a sweet, sour, spicy noodle dish that should totally flood your taste buds.

  • 300g rice noodles (i.e. half your average package of medium rice stick) – if fresh, then soak in lukewarm water for at least 30 min. If dried, it’ll likely be closer to 1-2hrs. – they should be soft, but not quite ready to eat. If the water’s really starchy, drain and rinse them until it’s clear.
  • 120g tofu (super-firm if you can) – chopped into small pieces and fried until brown and crisp
  • 45mL sesame or canola oil
  • 5g garlic – two fair-sized cloves, chopped
  • 40g brown sugar
  • 45mL fish sauce (Mr. Squid if you can get it, you’ll know it by the big lunging orange squid on the label, with the big caveat underneath “Contains No Squid!”)
  • 15mL rice vinegar (Murukan is good, or just plain white, if you’re in a pinch), or tamarind
  • 5mL soy sauce (actually Koyo Tamari shoyu is best if you can get it, fermented in cedar, all natural, no icky stuff)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 30g chopped peanuts
  • 2 piles of dried chilies to taste
  • 20g chives – cut into 1 inch pieces (or spring onion)
  • 60g bean sprouts
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • coriander, chopped (fairly well, like you were going to smoke it, though obviously don't. Planet Yuck!)

By request, as enth caught me out here, taking this off my homenode. as stated, it is hella good …

1. Prep. time here, all in, once the noodles are ready to go, is going to be about 30 min. total, and most of that is chopping, rinsing and putting stuff in little easy to get at hard to knock over bowls, arranged around your immediate cooking surface and wok.1 Wash and drain the corriander and bean sprouts well, as any excess water can tip the delicate balance towards hated mushiness.

2. Put oil in wok, heat, medium high. Add tofu and garlic. Fry for a minute or two, until garlic is brown, then add the soaked rice noodles, and some water (maybe 50mL). Stir over high heat for a couple minutes until the noodles are now quite soft and the water’s gone, making sure it doesn’t stick.

3. Add vinegar, dried shrimp, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce and stir well.

4. Push everything up on the side (a full sized wok comes in handy here) and pour the eggs into the bottom. Scramble them for a minute, adding a bit of oil if necessary, then flip the egg in with the rest. Stirring, add nuts and the dried chili. Mix it up.

5. Throw in the bean sprouts and chives. Mix for a few seconds, then turn off the heat.

6. Serve garnished with coriander, more peanuts, chives/green onion, and the lime wedges. Enough for two.
1 I really cannot impress enough how vital it is that you get everything ready, chopped, open, whatever, ahead of time – and have it all beside the stove. Because (as highlighted in the recipes above) if it’s going to taste right, it should all come together really fast. So pick out some of your more intensely ripping audio yarns for the cookery: I’m tipping Underworld's Luetin ( and Everything, sex and Everything...) or better yet some Casino Versus Japan, say maybe track 4: “The Possible Light,” off Whole Numbers Play The Basics LP*, a grand kitchen vibe, or maybe … oh never mind. The point is the beat, as the cooking pace here is pretty serious. And one more thing, never try to make more than this much at a time, because it won’t cook right and will end up in a big lump, unless you’re a 60-year-old little Thai woman. Again, that's who taught my friend the recipe, while he was back-packing around central Thailand. The one hour lesson cost him five US dollars, best money he ever spent he claims.
* Apostasy maybe, but this is the record the Boards so desperately were looking for, but not quite getting, with Geogaddi. And absolutely perfect hot wok, high coordination cooking music, no lie.

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