I love Pad Thai so much that I’m one of those weird people who will order it at a Japanese restaurant (where it’s usually tacked onto the menu as an afterthought).
Until recently I never tried making it at home because I assumed it involved complex ingredients, but I have good news: there was only one ingredient that was “foreign” to me — tamarind paste (also comes in powder form) and I found it easily in an Asian market. I can’t quite describe what it is other than the fact that it smells similar to fish sauce (i.e pungent and funky and full of umami) but it’s the ingredient that will give your Pad Thai that signature Pad Thai taste. Everything else you should be able to find at your grocery store.
Perfect Pad Thai for One
1 small bunch clear rice noodles (you can use the traditional pad thai noodles, or the slightly thinner kind. Both work well).
1 1/2 tablespoon neutral oil, like canola, divided
1 egg, whisked
1 garlic clove, chopped
Cooked protein of your choice (chicken, shrimp, tofu, beef, etc)
2 stalks scallions, chopped
For the sauce:
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon Tamarind paste or powder
1 tablespoon water or chicken broth
1 tablespoon fish sauce
For the garnish:
Peanuts, roughly chopped
Whisk your sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until the brown sugar is dissolved. In a larger bowl or pot, soak the noodles in boiling water until they’re al dente and still chewy (the back of the package should tell you for how long).
In a wok or heavy pan, crank the heat to high and quickly scramble your egg in 1/2 tablespoon oil. Set it aside while keeping the heat on. Add the rest of the oil, then the scallions and garlic. Sauté quickly without letting the garlic burn, then add your protein, cooking to heat through. Add your noodles, then the sauce. Continue to sauté over high heat, frequently stirring so the sauce gets evenly distributed. At the last minute, add the egg, then transfer your noodles to a bowl. Garnish with peanuts, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and lots of chopped cilantro.