I fell in love with Thai food on a trip to Koh Samui and Phuket in 1996. I had a great time visiting all of the little restaurants and some of the larger tourist-type places as well. When I came back to the U.S., I was grateful to find a good Thai restaurant in my neighborhood in Chicago. I would eat the pad thai and the cashew chicken and think about the beaches of Koh Samui.
I must confess that I do not make pad thai sauce from scratch simply because I can buy jars of good sauce from my local Asian grocery store. In fact, my frig always has a jar ready to go. This is truly a quick 30-minute recipe which makes enough to feed the four of us, although the boys are still young. In a few years I may need to double the recipe to feed us all!
[Updated March 8, 2011.]
- 6 ounces (170 g) wide rice noodles
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 8 ounces (227 g) raw shrimp, peeled, cleaned, and tails removed
- 2-4 ounces (59-118 ml) Pad Thai sauce
- 1/4 cup (35 g) peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 2 cups (4 ounces/113 g) bean sprouts, rinsed and well-drained
- 15 stems cilantro, leaves removed
- 1/2 lime, cut into wedges
- Sri Racha sauce, for garnish
- Place rice noodles in large bowl and cover with very hot tap water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. Or you can boil some water then soak the noodles for up to 5 minutes. Drain after soaking. Do not skip this step, or the noodles will be too hard to chew.
- While noodles are soaking, prepare the remaining ingredients. Clean the shrimp, chop the nuts and the scallions, rinse the bean sprouts, and pull leaves on the cilantro. Have everything ready to go when you start cooking.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of the canola oil into a medium-hot wok or large saute pan. Add the egg and lightly scramble, about 1 minute.
- Add the remaining oil and the shrimp. Stir-fry until cooked through, about 2 or 3 minutes. Don’t overcook, or the shrimp will be rubbery.
- Drain the noodles and add to the wok. Stir-fry until the noodles are tender, about 4 or 5 minutes.
- Add the pad thai sauce, peanuts, and scallions. Stir-fry for 1 minute.
- Add the bean sprouts and toss and stir for another minute. Squeeze one or two of the lime wedges around the pan and stir. Serve hot garnished with cilantro leaves and a lime wedge and a bottle of Sri Racha sauce on the side.
If you do not have an Asian grocery store nearby where you can get Pad Thai sauce or bags of noodles, you might be able to find some Pad Thai boxes in the Asian food aisle of your local grocery store. Many stores now carry Pad Thai products complete with noodles and sauce, you just add the meat, egg, peanuts, and veggies. Just follow the instructions on the box. Definitely better than Hamburger Helper.
You can also use other kinds of meat, such as chicken or ground pork, or you can go vegetarian and skip the meat.
Time-saving tip: Use fully cooked frozen shrimp instead of fresh. Simply thaw the shrimp under cold running water, then add it after the noodles are cooked. You won’t need to cook it long, just enough to heat it up.