A favorite Thai stir fry noodle dish at home: Pad Thai Recipe

by Alice Currah on June 1, 2009. Updated May 10, 2011

padthai
When I think of Thai food I think of Pad Thai. Ever since discovering Joy’s Thai Food online 2 years ago, I’ve been making an adapted version of her recipe which I think has to be as good or almost as good as the local Thai restaurant we frequent. For 15 years I have had a love hate relationship with this popular Thai noodle dish. I loved eating it but hated preparing it. You see, I have this weird habit of trying to re-create dishes I love eating out at home. Most recipes I found used ketchup. So each attempt at making Pad Thai always resulted in ketchup tasting noodles. I even tried using boxed Pad Thai kits with not so good results. I wanted to be able to prepare Pad Thai as good as the local Thai restaurant down the street. This would be the only way I would ever be satisfied with preparing this dish at home. I am happy to report I’ve done it. It’s not quite as special as the Pad Thai at our favorite Thai restaurant but it’s as good or even better than most Thai places we’ve eaten at. This my friend, is a personal culinary achievement! And to think, I remember back in the day when I thought ketchup was the key ingredient in making Pad Thai. I’ve come a long way baby.

This recipe calls for tamarind concentrate and palm sugarwhich can be found at Asian grocers or online. If you have a Ranch 99 Market near you, they carry both. The best and easiest way I have found to make pad thai is to make the sauce in advance and use what you need for your stir fry noodles. The rest of the sauce you can refrigerate up to a month. If you do refrigerate the sauce and find it hardened, just microwave it for 30 seconds and it will warm nicely into a usable sauce. This recipe will yield about 1.5 cups of sauce and only uses approximately 3-4 tablespoons per serving. Also when making Pad Thai, it is highly recommended to make only 1-2 servings at a time so that your pan/wok is not overcrowded. Otherwise you will have mushy noodles that never fry very well.  At first, you may think your noodles have too much sauce, but keep frying and tossing the noodles and the sauce will reduce and your noodles will soak some up as well. If you have any questions, feel free to email me or leave a comment. Enjoy!

padthaisauce

noodlefry

Pad Thai Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
This recipe is for authentic Pad Thai noodles. I like this recipe better than most restaurant versions.
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup fish sauce
  • ½ cup palm sugar
  • ½ cup tamarind juice concentrate
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces dried rice stick noodles
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ cups thinly sliced chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, or tofu
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup carrots, match sticks
  • cup green onion cut diagonal in ½ inch segments
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • cup cilantro
  • cup toasted peanuts chopped
  • Lime wedge
Instructions
  1. To make pad thai sauce, heat a small pan on medium low and add fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind concentrate, and garlic. Cook sauce until palm sugar has completely dissolve. At this point, you will want to taste the sauce and tweek the sweetness or hotness (be careful, the sauce will be hot). To make it more spicy add a little Thai chili powder. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before storing it in a jar or plastic container.
  2. Boil noodles for 4-5 minutes and drain immediately rinsing with cold water for a few seconds. Noodles should be slightly firmer than Al dente. But don’t worry, they will continue to soften and cook later when stir frying. Using kitchen shears, cut the noodle clump in half. This will make it easier to fry and eat.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or frying pan on high and cook raw chicken, pork, beef, tofu or shrimp for 3-4 minutes. Remove meat/tofu/seafood into a small bowl. Next, heat the remaining oil and then add garlic and red onions to the hot pan and stir fry for 1 minute stirring the garlic mixture so it will not burn. Add noodles and stir for 1 minute. Add 3-4 tablespoons Pad Thai sauce continually stirring noodle mixture until well coated with sauce. Add cooked meat/tofu/seafood back and fry for 2-3 minutes. Move the noodle and meat mixture to one side of the pan and crack an egg on the other side. Scramble the egg with a wooden spoon and cook for 30 seconds. Add carrots, green onions, and sprouts and cook for one more minute frying everything together. Test the firmness of the noodle. If the noodle is too firm, fry for an additional minute. If your noodles need more flavor, add another tablespoon of sauce and fry another half minute. Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with remaining raw carrot match sticks, spouts, cilantro, toasted peanuts, and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!
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{ 124 comments… read them below or add one }

Ligita January 17, 2014 at 5:22 pm

I made this two nights ago and it was not good at all…I am wondering if I did something wrong because the whole dish tasted like the tamarind. The lady at our local asian market pointed out the tamarind and it was a jelly/liquid like substance. I used the directed amount, but the pad thai was hardly edible. My boyfriend and I eat loads of pad thai and this was a bust. Thoughts?

Reply

Mary March 13, 2014 at 10:09 pm

You likely got the Tamarind Paste which is thicker than Tamarind Juice Concentrate and that needs to be diluted. I usually do 2 tablespoons with 1/4-1/2 cup of water for my Pad Thai recipe.

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Katherine January 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I think you got tamarind paste instead of the juice.

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Ligita January 19, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Hmm okay, do you know what the conversion is for paste to juice? I have never cooked with tamarind before…

Reply

Flower March 6, 2014 at 12:36 am

Haven’t tried this … but when I got to the boil noodles part…that pretty much sealed it for me. Rice noodles should never be boiled…

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Anita October 3, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Quite correct Flower. Rice noodles must be soaked not boiled EVER!

Reply

Alice Currah October 15, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Hi Anita,
I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you on this one. I cook with rice noodles all the time and boil them to a perfect soft/firm texture. I think you could do either or and get the same result. I’m glad to hear soaking works for you though.

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Tammy May 11, 2014 at 9:37 am

The flavor of the sauce was fantastic. I have tried other recipes but was disappointed in the sauce. I prefer a bit spicier version so added some Thai chile flakes. Also agree with Flower….do NOT boil your noodles. Follow the package directions and soak them.

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J June 5, 2014 at 9:28 pm

My noodle packet says to boil noodles! Never made this so hope it’s ok. I should have ready all your comments before buying ingredients. Also I added the four cloves of garlic to the sauce. Then later it says to cook garlic and red onion. Not sure how much I should have left for the main dish and not added to the sauce!

Reply

tina June 26, 2014 at 2:12 pm

hi! thanks for sharing. I love pad thai so much! Was wondering if there is any alternative for palm sugar? Im in this area of canada where its hard to find an asian food. although im asian myself. Thank you!

Reply

Elisha July 17, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Tried this a few months ago for a special dinner as we were getting ready to go to Thailand for the first time. This was excellent! Better than the pad thai that my husband loves at the local Thai restaurant. I’m not a huge fan of pad thai, but I did like this recipe. Have since tried pad thai out & have never liked it again. I did the recipe just as is except for adding some sriracha & dried chili flakes to the sauce recipe. Was able to find all the required ingredients at the local Asian store & they were very impressed that I was going to make the sauce from scratch! They tried to talk me out of it…lol :)

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Page September 29, 2014 at 9:14 am

Hello! Tried a different pad thai recipe before this and mine also tasted overwhelmingly of tamrind. I used the paste and there is a lot of discrepancies online over how to convert it to juice/water. I also want to make pad thai becusae I am addited to restuarant versions – and I would like to make mine exactly as you have descibed. So, where exactly do you get your “tamarind juice concentrate” and what are its ingredints? Thank you!

Reply

Alice Currah October 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Hi Page,
I shop at 99 Ranch store. Sometimes they carry different tamarind products such as paste, juice, concentrate, etc. My suggestion to you would be this. Make the sauce with everything except the tamarind and slowly add it in, tasting as you go. You want the sauce to be tangy with a not-too-sweet taste. It’s hard to tell you how to convert tamarind products – it’s a frustration I have as well when I go to the store and they change products on me. Hope this helps.

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