Quick, name a Thai dish. Yeah, we know you just said “pad thai.” It’s America’s gateway drug to Thai food, luring us in with its stir-fried noodles swathed in that sweet and sticky sauce spiked with sour and salty notes. We love that it’s not too hot and that it comes with those crunchy little peanuts on top.
We just can’t get enough. But neither can native Thai diners. It’s often referred to as the national dish of Thailand. While the four main regions of Thailand − north, northeastern, central and southern − each have very different culinary traditions, you’ll find pad thai at any restaurant throughout the country. Order it in the U.S. and the dish comes complete in a bowl, spiced and ready to eat. But in Thailand, where balancing flavors of hot, sour, salty and sweet is the foremost tenet of cooking, creating that all-important harmony is left to the diner. Limes, sugar, fish sauce and chile flakes are served on the side to be mixed into the dish to the preference of the individual, not the chef. Try your hand at making pad thai at home and serve it up the authentic way, with the seasonings on the side.
By Phatcharin Wanna, Fork & Stix
Serves | 2 |
Pad Thai Sauce
- 6½ oz fish sauce
- 8 oz palm sugar
- 5 oz tamarind pulp
- 5 stalks Chinese chives
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil, divided
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 8 large shrimp
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup preserved radish
- ¼ cup dried shrimp
- ¾ cup firm tofu
- 4 oz fresh or dried rice noodles
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 4 Tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
- banana blossoms
- fish sauce
- red chile flakes
- lime wedges
| Preparation – Pad Thai Sauce | Place all ingredients in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugars have dissolved. Reduce to thicken the sauce. Remove the sauce from heat and use immediately or allow it to cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
| Preparation – Pad Thai | Cut chive greens into 1-inch pieces and reserve the whites. Set a flat pan over medium-high heat. Heat half the vegetable oil. Add the shallot and cook until golden-brown. Add shrimp and cook for 1 minute. Add the eggs to the pan and scramble. Add preserved radishes, dried shrimp and tofu. Immediately add the noodles and the pad thai sauce. Stir constantly. Add chive greens and bean sprouts to the pan and gently stir. Divide the pad thai among 2 dishes and garnish with peanuts, banana blossoms and chive whites. Serve lime wedges, fish sauce, sugar and chile flakes in individual dishes on the side.