I think that every family in Thailand has their own favourite Pad Thai recipe with just a little more of this or a little less of that but the basic Pad Thai recipe is a stir fried combination of rice noodles, eggs, red chillies and beansprouts with prawns and/or chicken and/or tofu, garnished with spring onions, coriander leaves, crushed peanuts and lime juice.
The dish originated in ancient times when Vietnamese traders brought rice noodles to Siam. However, it didn’t become the national dish until the 1930s and 40s when the Prime Minister of the time wanted to preserve the rice supplies for export and encouraged the people to eat noodles instead.
Here’s a really easy Pad Thai recipe for you to try.
- 1 tbsp dried shrimps
- 100g dried rice stick noodles
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 200g small fresh peeled prawns
- 100g bean sprouts
- 2 spring onions chopped lengthwise
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 3 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes or cayenne
- 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar if you can’t get it
- 2 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
- 2 tbsp coriander sprigs
- 1 lime, cut into quarters
- Grind the dried shrimps to a powder in an electric coffee grinder or pestle and mortar.
- Cover the noodles with boiling water and leave for 15 minutes or until “cooked”. Rinse in cold water and drain, then run 1 tsp of oil through the noodles using your fingers.
- To make the omelette, heat a wok until smoking, at 1 tbsp of oil and swirl it around to coat the surface. Add the eggs and swirl again to make a very thin omelette. Using a palette knife, turn it out and slice into strips.
- Heat the remaining oil in the wok. Tip in the garlic and prawns and quickly stir fry.
- Add the noodles, strips of omelette, bean sprouts, spring onions, ground up shrimp powder, lime juice fish sauce, chilli flakes or cayenne, ketchup and sugar, constantly stirring or tossing carefully.
Serve scattered with the coriander leaves and peanuts with the quarters of lime on the side.
Some recipes use chopped or grated shallots instead of spring onions, preserved turnip, tamarind paste and Chinese chives but use the dried shrimp as part of the garnish while others use chicken stock and soy sauce in the sauce but omit the ketchup. It seems to be a matter of personal taste as long as the basics are there
Of course, you can buy commercial Pad Thai sauce in a jar but it’s so easy to make your own and actually much cheaper.