Every time I go out to a Thai restaurant my first instinct is to order Pad Thai. It is so comforting but it is also fresh and light. Most times I talk myself out of ordering it because it is so easy to make at home. I usually keep the ingredients for Pad Thai on hand. The only fresh items I would need to get from the grocery store are the scallions, cilantro, bean sprouts, and limes. I keep easy peel shrimp in the freezer to have a protein that is quick to defrost and super quick to cook. And if you don’t have any of the pantry ingredients for Pad Thai, just go out and buy them. You’ll be stocked for months to come and ready to put together some Pad Thai whenever the craving hits!
(serves 4 to 6)
1 (8 ounce) pack pad Thai noodles
1. Cook noodles according to directions on the box. I sometimes buy these at an Asian grocery store and they often come without directions on the packaging. In that case: boil water in a large pot. Add noodles and cook for about 6 minutes. They should be al dente, cooked but not too soft. Drain noodles in a colander and place under cold running water. Let noodles drain, and set aside.
Pad Thai Sauce
Keep in mind that you can change the proportions of the ingredients to suit your taste. Some people like the sauce less sweet, others like it to be more acidic. It is up to you.
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon white rice vinegar
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons ketchup
1. Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and turn heat off. Set aside.
Shrimp and Garnishes
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon red chili flakes (or to taste)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (or 12 ounces diced chicken or pressed tofu)
1 small onion (or 2 large shallots), thinly sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
4 tablespoons peanuts, crushed
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
1. Place 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a large skillet. Add in the red chili flakes, garlic cloves, and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the shrimp for about 2-3 minutes or until they are fully cooked. Do not overcook the shrimp otherwise they will get tough. Remove the shrimp and garlic from the skillet and set aside. [If using chicken, cook the chicken until fully cooked. If using tofu, cook tofu until browned on all sides. ]
2. Add in 1 tablespoon of the canola oil and the onion in the same saucepan, and cook until soft.
3. Add in the cooked noodles, shrimp, and sauce. Cook only until the noodles are heated through. Divide among 4 plates. Garnish with bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro and lime wedges.