If you’ve ever had Thai cuisine, chances are your first foray into it was the mega-popular Pad Thai (or Thai 101 as I like to refer to it). And once you had this gateway dish, you likely became hooked on Thai altogether because it’s one of the greatest cuisines in the universe. In case you didn’t have it before, Pad Thai is a rice noodle dish filled with veggies, typically a protein such as tofu, chicken and/or shrimp, and tossed together in a sweet and savory sauce that stems from the sour flavors of tamarind and sweetness of fish sauce (and, in my case, a few other basic goodies). My spin on this classic takes only 30 minutes from start to finish and is as easy and delicious as it gets!
Watch The Video!
Heat The Water and Prepare The Sauce
Cook the Noodles
Sauté the Chicken and Veggies
Complete The Sauce
Drain the Noodles
Combine It All
Give It A “Thai”
- 1 pound rice noodles (medium to large, about as wide as linguine or fettuccine, but any will do; see Jeff’s Tips)
- 1/2 cup tamarind paste or concentrate (I use the Tamican brand)
- 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- Juice of ½ lime, plus more 1 lime sliced into wedges for garnish (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ¼ cup sesame oil
- 1-2 pounds chicken breasts, sliced into ¼-inch cutlets, lightly rubbed with some garlic salt and cut into bite-size pieces
- 4-8 ounces extra-firm tofu, diced (optional)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup loosely packed Thai basil leaves or fresh tarragon
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 large eggs, well beaten
- ½ cup dry roasted peanuts, crushed, plus more for topping
- ½-1 cup bean sprouts (optional, fresh or drained from a can)
- Fresh cilantro, chopped, for topping (optional)
- Fill an 8-quart pot halfway with water and place on the stove over high heat. Add the noodles or pasta, cook according to the package instructions and drain through a colander in the sink when done, rinsing with cold water (regardless of the type of noodle used).
- In a bowl, whisk together the tamarind paste, brown sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce or soy sauce, rice vinegar, juice of 1 lime and cornstarch to combine. Set aside.
- Add the sesame oil to a nonstick 4- to 5-quart sauté pan and set to medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add the chicken and tofu (if using) and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked (165°F). Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken and tofu and set aside, keeping the oil in the pot.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the carrot, scallions, Thai basil (or tarragon) and garlic. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, until the veggies soften a bit.
- Move the veggies over to one side of the pan and then pour in the eggs. Let rest until they begins to bubble. Then, gently use a silicone spatula to fold the eggs constantly until scrambled. Once cooked, you can begin to aggressively mix the scrambled egg in with the veggies so it breaks apart and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Add the sauce mixture from Step 2 to the pan and simmer and stir until heated and thickened, 1-2 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the noodles to the pan along with the cooked chicken, cooked tofu, peanuts and bean sprouts (if using, start with ½ cup and you can add up to ½ cup more if you want) and toss until all is fully combined. Serve topped with additional peanuts, fresh cilantro and a lime wedge, if desired.
Don’t feel like getting rice noodles? Use any long-form noodle, such as linguine or fettuccine, and simply cook according to the package instructions. Everything else in the recipe remains the same.
If you want to sub sliced steak or peeled shrimp for the chicken, be my guest! Just make sure the protein you use is fully cooked in Step 3 before removing from the pan (about 5 minutes for the chicken and 2 minutes for the shrimp). Or use diced extra-firm tofu or no protein at all.
If you want it super saucy, double the ingredients in Step 2.