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Thailand is a street food haven with many delicious faves, but the most ubiquitous of these goodies is probably Pad Thai. Pretty much all of Thailand loves this iconic dish. In fact, it was literally created as a way to forge their national identity, made with unique ingredients for the signature combination of complex Thai flavours. But cooking it is surprisingly easy. Because it’s meant to be a quick meal dish that anyone can make. Yes, even you!
So what is Pad Thai? Stir-fried rice noodles with lots of veggies, eggs, prawns and sliced chicken. You can also go vegetarian if you like. The essential steps to authentic tasting Pad Thai is actually more in the preparation. The stir-fry itself is rather fast and quite simple to master. But don’t fret, prepping the ingredients is also pretty easy.
Here’s what you need:
Pad Thai Noodles
While any rice noodles will do, authentic Pad Thai noodles are similar to Chinese Kuay Teow but flat, thin and dry. You can get them in packs from your local supermarket or Asian grocer. Just boil them in warm water for about 6-8 minutes, and drain thoroughly before the stir-fry. This makes your Pad Thai noodles elastic and tender, ready to absorb all the flavours.
Pad Thai Sauce
The Pad Thai sauce mix is the main flavour-maker. Tamarind puree, minced cloves garlic, fish sauce and palm sugar. Prep it before the stir-fry to get the authentic Thai taste – sweet, tangy, umami and aromatic. Dissolve and blend them all in 1/4 cup of hot water. Alternatively, you can also cook them together in your wok. Make sure no hard solid bits are in the mix. Is tamarind too strong for you? You can use rice vinegar in equal amounts with your palm sugar. Don’t really like the smoky taste of palm sugar? Brown sugar is a great substitute.
Carrot brings a subtle sweetness. Bean sprouts give a refreshing touch. Spring onion adds an earthy green taste, colour and aroma. Cloves garlic and red onion for mild peppery fragrance. Pad Thai combines them all to balance with your protein ingredients – typically egg, prawns and chicken, or tofu for vegetarian. Capsicum, zucchini, cauliflower and broccoli can do, too. You can also replace spring onion with Chinese chives. Just dice and slice them all.
The Stir Fry
Now that you’re all set, heat up your wok with a dash of vegetable oil/cooking oil. Once you get mild steam going, cook your proteins with minced clove garlic. When they’re about done, drop in the Pad Thai noodles and sauce, then crack the egg and Stir-fry till the sauce blends into the main ingredients. Lastly, add in the veggies. The whole process actually takes less than 15 minutes. Just keep to high heat, and add cooking oil if it gets too dry.
Finally, scoop up your Pad Thai into a plate. Garnish with a slice of lime wedge and crushed peanuts. Sprinkle some chilli flakes for a zesty touch. And that’s it! Bon appetit, or as the Thai say, ‘Than hai aroy na krub’. Grab the full Pad Thai recipe, as well as our vegetarian special!