You can’t talk about Thai food without mentioning pad thai. It is undoubtably the best-known dish the country has ever produced, and one that it is proud enough of to give its name to. Ironically, it’s not actually massively popular among locals since it lacks the bold, spicy flavours that the cuisine is famous for. However, it’s certainly a big hit among visitors – no surprise, given its interesting mix of flavours and textures – which is why you can get it at virtually every Phuket Thai restaurant.
So, what goes into the perfect pad thai? As with any dish from any national cuisine, the exact ingredients vary slightly from one chef to another. However, you can’t go wrong with:
250g medium rice noodles
About 4 tbsp peanut oil (or other vegetable oil)
300g fresh prawns
187g firm tofu, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 shallots, thinly sliced
32g dried shrimp, soaked in warm water
30g sweet picked radish
2-3 tsp ground red chilli peppers
2 large eggs
1 bunch garlic chives, cut into 2cm lengths
8 tbsp pad thai sauce
For the sauce:
250ml tamarind water (add 6tbsp seedless tamarind paste to 250ml of warm water. Strain after 5 mins soaking)
125ml fish sauce
200g palm sugar
Mix all ingredients together and stir over a low heat. Cook for 45 mins, until syrupy.
Let’s get cooking
- Soak the noodles in lukewarm water for 40 mins or more, until limp but not soft. Drain and set aside.
- While the noodles are soaking, peel and devein prawns and chop the tofu, garlic, shallots and chives. Also, soak the dried shrimp.
- Heat a [very] large wok over a high heat and add half the oil. Quickly stir-fry the garlic. Add the prawns and cook until they’re pink and almost cooked through. Remove them from the wok and set them aside.
- Add more of the oil to the wok and get it back up to a high heat. Stir-fry the tofu until it’s golden-brown (about 4-5 minutes). Add the shallots, dried shrimp, radish and ground chillis.
- Add the noodles and combine all the ingredients. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes, until the noodles soften. Push to one side of the wok.
- Pour a little oil into the available space in the wok and fry the eggs. Roughly chop them up with a spatula and toss into the noodles.
- Add the sauce and stir in well, coating the noodles.
- When the noodles are cooked to your liking, add the beansprouts, dried shrimp and chives. Add garnish of chopped roasted peanuts. Serve to four people with a wedge of lime, more peanuts and dried chillies and spring onions.