Here’s a simplified 15 Minute Pad Thai recipe that contains very accessible ingredients available at mainstream grocery stores and which takes 15 minutes to make with a little practice.
It came about after Brian and I were in Seattle several weeks ago, nursing away our woes with food. We ate at some pretty fancy restaurants, and the food, of course, was all amazing — cutting edge culinarily speaking, locally sourced and beautifully plated — perfect for drawing catering inspiration. But if I’m being totally honest with you, the meal that stands out most, even still, ended up being one that cost the least, in a divey hole in the wall — a Thai restaurant in University District, called Thai Tom. It was Pad Thai.
We sat at the counter in the direct line of fire where servers picked up food to deliver, causing us to lean to the left or right every few seconds, as hot sizzling food passed within inches of our faces. We noticed that everyone was ordering Pad Thai. We watched as the line cook busted out plate after plate during the dinner rush, while the line-up out the door grew longer and longer. After having one bite of it, I knew why. I immediately started paying attention. It was like watching an artist at work. I watched and learned and then committed it to memory and when we got home, I started practicing. For several weeks now, we’ve been having Pad Thai and each time it tastes just a little better. I used to make it more complicated, but after Thai Tom, paired it way down.
Give it a try. See if you can do it in 15 minutes! It’s a fun challenge. It took me 20 the first time. Read the whole recipe through first and then give it a go. You will be faster the second time, and I think you will like the recipe enough to want to try this two nights in row.
This can be made with tofu (like you see above) or chicken or shrimp — take your pick. If going for chicken, make sure to read the notes at the bottom of the recipe, especially if looking to reduce fat. We’ve been poaching the thinly sliced chicken in a bit of water instead of frying it, and this is the way it was done at the restaurant. In fact, they poached the chicken ahead to save even more time, which is always an option.
I really think the secret is the shallot and garlic. Sometimes I’ll add ginger, but its not imperative.
Pad Thai is most easily made in a wok, but I also make it in my cast iron skillet.
Pour boiling water over rice noodles and let them soak just until they are pliable (about 5 minutes) They don’t need to be soft, as they will soften as you sauce them.
I’m curious to know how you like this….let me know!
If you follow along on Instagram, you’ll know where I am right now. I wish I could transport you here to this magical seaside village on the other side of the world. It’s the stuff of dreams.
The lemon trees are blossoming and permeating the air with a scent so delicious and sweet. Wisteria is in full bloom, climbing over walls and trellises, hanging down heavy and full. The sea is the deepest colored aqua possible, it almost makes me want to weep. If soul had a color, I think it would be this perfect blue.
Anyway, it’s been a travel dream for a very long time and it has finally arrived….and I’m soaking it all up.
I can’t help but think of the quote by Anias Nin:
The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.
Happy weekend. xo
- 8 ounces tofu, chicken breast or peeled prawns
- 4 ounces pad thai noodles
- Boiling water to cover noodles
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 3-4 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon chopped ginger (optional)
- 2 eggs, whisked with a fork with a generous 3-finger pinch salt
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce)
- 3 tablespoons sugar (or brown sugar)
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce (or Braggs)
- Chili flakes
- fresh bean sprouts, chili flakes chopped scallions, roasted peanuts and lime.
- Place rice noodles in a shallow baking dish and boil enough water to cover them. Cover with boiling water for 5-8 minutes, until tender, but not too soft, then drain. In the mean time,
- slice chicken into very thin strips, ⅓ inch thick x 1 inch long, and season with salt and pepper. (Alternately, press tofu with paper towels to blot dry well. Cut tofu into ¾ inch cubes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and for extra crispy, dredge in corn starch) Sear seasoned chicken or shrimp (see notes below) or tofu in a wok with hot oil until cooked through over medium high heat. Set aside, blot with paper towels, wipe out pan. Turn heat off.
- Chop shallot, garlic and ginger very finely. Set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk the two eggs with a fork and a generous, 3-finger pinch of salt.
- In another small bowl, mix fish sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, and soy sauce.
- Gather your bowls around the stove.
- Heat 2 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil in the wok over medium heat, add shallot, garlic ginger and stir, cooking a few minutes until golden and fragrant.
- Make a well in the center, and add the whisked eggs. With a metal spatula, scramble them and break them apart into little bits, letting them brown just little, and incorporate them into the shallots and garlic, continuing to break them into small bits.
- Add the drained, semi soft, noodles and toss with the egg mixture, stirring, flipping constantly for about two minutes, or until noodles become soft and pliable.
- Add sauce and either the chicken, tofu or shrimp. Turn and toss the noodles for a few more minutes. It will smell quite fishy at first - turn your fan on - but it will mellow out perfectly. Cook until the noodles are soft ( but still a little chewy) adding a little water if it seems dry. Toss in the bean sprouts and peanuts ( or serve on the side) and sprinkle with chili flakes and scallions. Give one more toss and serve immediately.
- Divide among two plates.
- Garnish with bean sprouts, fresh scallions, lime wedges and roasted crushed peanuts.
- Notes: An easy way to cut back on the oil in the recipe is to poach the thinly sliced chicken in a little water (just enough to barely cover) in the pan or wok for just few few minutes. Drain and set aside. The thinner you slice the chicken the faster it will cook.