Have you ever daydreamed about a plate of mouthwatering, home-cooked Pad Thai but were put off by its exotic and complex ingredients? Trust us, we’ve been there! But the craving got so bad that after many kitchen experiments with various ingredients, we’re thrilled to bring you a simple traditional Pad Thai recipe plus our ChilliChump version to show you how easy it is to change a recipe to suit your taste.
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This harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and umami will whet your appetite. Ready to embark on a flavor-packed adventure right from the comfort of your kitchen? Let’s fire up those woks and get ready to cook up a storm!
What is Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is a Thai rice noodle dish with vegetables, protein (such as chicken, shrimp, or tofu), and a delicious Thai fish sauce.
Traditional Thai Dish
A famous dish from Thailand. Pad Thai is made with rice noodles, veggies, chicken, shrimp, or tofu. The sauce is crucial to this dish, giving it its unique taste.
This meal became popular in Thailand in the 1930s. Even though it uses Chinese-style rice noodles, people now see Pad Thai as true Thai food.
Made with Rice Noodles, Vegetables, Protein (Chicken, Shrimp, Tofu), and Sauc
Pad Thai is a tasty meal; I’ve made this recipe and many others as it’s a firm favorite in our household. It uses rice noodles, and we add bell peppers, carrots, and bean sprouts. And to top the dish, we typically opt for shrimp, but you can add chicken or tofu if you’d rather.
The sauce has a sweet and fresh taste that you will love! So, let’s start cooking together now!
Ingredients and Instructions for Authentic Pad Thai Recipe
If this is your first time cooking Pad Thai, don’t panic. Friends and family have followed the recipe exactly and enjoyed a delicious meal made from scratch without any disasters.
Traditional Pad Thai Recipe
- Rice noodles
- Shrimp, chicken or tofu
- 1 Egg scrambled
- Bean sprouts
- Shallots and garlic
- Fish sauce
- Oyster sauce
- Brown sugar
- Tamarind paste
- Brown rice noodles
- Red bell peppers
- Soak the rice noodles in cold water for about 20 minutes or until soft.
- While the noodles are soaking, prepare the sauce by combining tamarind concentrate, fish sauce, brown sugar, and soy sauce in a bowl. Mix well until the sugar has dissolved.
- Heat oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and chopped shallots, and sauté.
- If you're using chicken or shrimp, add them to the pan and fry until fully cooked.
- Push the protein to one side of the pan and crack an egg into the space. Quickly scramble the egg.
- Drain the soaked rice noodles and add them to the pan along with bean sprouts and sliced tofu (if desired).
- Stir-fry everything together for a few minutes until well combined.
- Pour the sauce over the noodle mixture in the pan, ensuring that everything is evenly coated in the sauce.
- Continue cooking for another 1 – 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until all ingredients are heated through and well mixed.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately, sprinkling the chopped peanuts on top.
Tips and Variations to Make Pad Thai
To customize your Pad Thai recipe, use different vegetables or proteins like beef, pork, or tempeh for a vegetarian option. Adjust the spice level by adding more chili flakes or reducing them for a milder flavor.
Experiment with different sauces and condiments to enhance the taste. Get creative and make it your own!
Substitutions for Ingredients
Here are some substitutions you can use for certain ingredients in Pad Thai:
- For tamarind paste, use tamarind sauce or lime juice as alternatives. They provide a similar tangy flavor.
- For fish sauce: If you’re nervous about the fish sauce, you can use soy sauce instead. It adds a salty and savory taste to the dish.
- For protein (chicken, shrimp, tofu): Feel free to switch out the protein based on your preference or dietary needs. You can use chicken breasts, shrimp, firm tofu, or even try a combination of them.
- For vegetables: You can add different vegetables based on what you have available or what you like. Bean sprouts, bell peppers, carrots, and green onions are all great options.
The great thing about Pad Thai is that you can experiment with it to make an easy Pad Thai recipe or make life easy by buying a ready-made sauce. You’re looking for the Pad Thai flavor, but most of all, make sure you love your recipe. Just grab your ingredients and make it your own.
Adjusting the Spice Level
Everyone has different preferences regarding spice levels in their Pad Thai. Some people enjoy a mild and subtle flavor, while others crave a fiery kick of heat.
The great thing about making Pad Thai at home is that you can adjust the spice level according to your taste. You can add more chili flakes or hot sauce if you like it spicy, or reduce the amount if you prefer a milder version.
Remember, it’s all about finding the perfect flavors that suit your palate. So don’t be afraid to experiment and make your dish as spicy or mild as you desire!
Adding different vegetables or proteins
In the recipe above, you can get creative and add various vegetables or proteins to make it even more delicious! Here are some options:
- Chicken: You can use thinly sliced chicken breast for a lean, protein-packed option.
- Shrimp: Add peeled and deveined shrimp to your noodles if you love seafood.
- Beef or Pork: Sliced beef or pork can also be a tasty addition to this dish.
- Tofu: You can use fried tofu cubes as a protein substitute for a vegetarian or vegan option.
- Broccoli: Add some blanched broccoli florets for added crunch and nutrition.
- Bell Peppers: Thinly sliced bell peppers in different colors will give your dish a vibrant flavor and color.
- Carrots: Julienne or shred carrots to incorporate a hint of sweetness and texture.
- Bean Sprouts: These crunchy sprouts are a classic addition that adds freshness.
ChilliChump Pad Thai
The best Pad Thai I’ve ever made requires simple changes to the traditional recipe above.
This is a favorite Thai dish of mine, and I like using fresh ingredients in my cooking. You will not be surprised to learn that I regularly add my homegrown Piri-Piri Chillies into my recipe for an extra kick.
So, if you give it a go using this ChilliChump Pad Thai recipe, let me know what you think in the comments below.
ChilliChump Pad Thai Recipe
- 100 g Ribbon Rice Noodles (Dried) Thick cut
- 3 Ripe Piri PIri Chillies (Chopped up) Thai, or other birds eye chillies work fine. Can be dried or fresh.
- 225 g Raw Prawns
- 5 Spring Onions
- 1 Egg
- 3 cloves Garlic crushed
- Crushed Peanuts
- 1 Lime Sliced in wedges
- 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
- Bean Sprouts
Pad Thai Sauce
- 5 tbsp Fish Sauce
- 2 tbsp Tamarind Paste
- 2 tbsp Sugar Brown sugar preferred
- Prepare the rice noodles: pour boiling water over them and soak for 6 minutes. Then rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking, and drain the excess water.
- While the rice noodles are soaking, dice up the spring onions.
- Prepare the Pad Thai sauce by mixing the tamarind paste, fish sauce and sugar.
- Brown the crushed peanuts in a hot wok . Keep them moving so they don't burn. Remove the peanuts and put aside.
- Add the vegetable oil to the wok and bring up to heat again. Check it is hot enough by throwing in a piece of the spring onion. The spring onion should be sizzling.
- Add a handful of spring onions to the wok.
- Add the crushed garlic (if you want a stronger garlic flavour, add the garlic later, when you add the prawns).
- Add the rice noodles and the chopped up chillies
- Add 5 tablespoons of the Pad Thai Sauce. And mix together.
- Move everything to the side of the wok, and add the egg to the open space. You may want to add a little more oil at this stage.
- Once the egg is fried up, mix it into the noodles.
- After 4 minutes of stiry-frying, add the prawns. Stirfry for a further 4 minutes, keeping everything moving.
- Remove from the heat, and plate up your Pad Thai. Sprinkle the browned, crushed peanuts on top, and add a handful of bean sprouts. (Important: Only use raw bean sprouts if the package they are in says they are "ready to eat". If you re unsure, add them when you add the rice noodles to cook them through)
- Squeeze some lime juice over your Pad Thai
Conclusion and Homemade Pad Thai Recipe Recap
In conclusion, Pad Thai is a delicious and versatile dish you can easily make at home. With its blend of flavors and textures, it’s no wonder why it has become such a popular Thai dish.
Whether you’re a fan of shrimp, chicken, or tofu, there’s a recipe out there for everyone to enjoy. Hopefully, I’ve shown you that Pad Thai made from scratch isn’t exactly challenging, and you can whip up this fabulous recipe any night of the week. You may even be able to enjoy Pad Thai on a Tuesday night without reaching for the takeaway menu! So try this recipe and impress your friends and family with your culinary skills!
If you’ve been inspired and you’re looking for other recipe ideas – go to my recipe playlist on Youtube or check out a few of my recipe articles below:
- Jalapeno Popper Recipes
- Spicy Seafood Paella Recipe
- Piri-Piri Hot Sauce to Piri-Piri Chicken
- 20 Spicy Dinner Ideas
Pad Thai FAQs
1. What is Traditional Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is a popular stir-fry made with rice noodles and other ingredients in a special sauce recipe, often found in traditional Thai cooking and served at every Thai restaurant.
2. How Can I Make Authentic Pad Thai at Home?
You can make an authentic version from scratch using a simple recipe for making the sauce. Above are two versions of the dish you can try straight away.
3. Why Does the Pad Thai Sauce Call for Fish Sauce and Tamarind Paste?
The traditional or authentic recipe uses fish sauce and tamarind paste as critical parts of the homemade Pad Thai sauce to get that good Thai kick and unique flavor many love. The noodles, protein, and vegetables will soak up the sauce, and your guests will think they’re enjoying delicious Pad Thai in Thailand.
4. Is it Hard to Prepare this Thai Food Dish?
No! Making your best Pad Thai may seem like there are a lot of ingredients, but follow the written recipe exactly; it’s surprisingly easy!
5. Can you Double this Recipe if you Have Guests Over?
Absolutely! Suppose you love this fabulous old recipe or need more significant portions. In that case, you can always double the ingredients.
6. Could I Swap Out Items for Dietary Needs, e.g. Vegetarian Pad Thai?
Sure! The wonder about cooking your version of authentic restaurant Pad Thai is that you could alter some aspects according to specific dietary requirements, such as swapping soy sauce with low sodium soy sauce.
For those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you can quickly adapt the Pad Thai ingredients to suit your needs. Here are some options:
- Replace the protein: Instead of chicken or shrimp, you can use tofu as a plant-based protein option. Firm tofu works well in this dish and absorbs the flavors of the sauce nicely. If you’re not a fan of tofu, you can try alternatives like Pumfu (pumpkin seed tofu), jackfruit, seitan, or chickpeas for added texture and taste.
- Omit the fish sauce: Traditional Pad Thai sauce often contains fish sauce, but you can make a vegan-friendly version by omitting it altogether. Instead, you can substitute soy sauce or tamari for that umami flavor.
- Use vegetable broth: If you want to make sauce from scratch, consider using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to keep it vegan. This will still give you a rich and flavorful base for your dish.
- Load up on veggies: One great thing about this recipe is that it’s packed with vegetables. Add colorful veggies like bell peppers, carrots, bean sprouts, broccoli, or snap peas for added crunch and nutrition.
- Explore different flavors: To enhance the taste of your vegan version, don’t be afraid to experiment with other spices and seasonings. You can add a touch of ginger, garlic powder, chili flakes, or even a squeeze of lime juice to bring out more depth in the dish. Why not try Indian tamarind instead of traditional tamarind, for example?