Making Pad Thai with Pantry Ingredients
While most restaurants make the sauce for their Pad Thai with tamarind (either paste or concentrate – see notes for more info), this ingredient isn’t always readily available for home cooks. To remedy this, we’ve come up with a sauce that replicates the flavor of tamarind pretty well.
When combined with shrimp, eggs, garlic, bean sprouts, cilantro, and peanuts, our homemade sauce produces a light, flavorful dish that may not be totally authentic, but it is definitely delicious. Plus, it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare!
If you’re not a lover of shrimp, you can easily substitute a different protein like chicken, pork, or tofu. Just be sure to use bite-sized pieces and adjust the stir-fry time accordingly.
Authentic ingredients for Pad Thai
To make a more authentic version of Pad Thai, you’ll need to get some tamarind paste and replace the sauce ingredients in the recipe with:
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- Sriracha to taste (optional)
What is Tamarind?
The tamarind tree is native to India and Asia and grows wild throughout the region. The tree produces pods that contain a pulp with an intense sweet and sour flavor. In Thai cooking, tamarind paste is generally mixed with water to thin it before use. In addition to being used in Pad Thai, tamarind paste is used in various chutneys and curry dishes and is a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce as well.
Shrimp Pad Thai
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)
- 8 ounces flat rice noodles
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 medium carrot, julienned (cut into matchsticks)
- 1 bunch, 4 to 5 scallions, chopped
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed
- 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, crushed
- 4 lime wedges
For the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, substitute tamari for gluten-free
- 2 teaspoons ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sriracha, optional
- Prepare the rice noodles according to the package directions (or follow the directions in the recipe notes below) and set aside.
- To prepare the sauce, combine the brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire and sriracha in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Heat for 1 minute on high, stir until the brown sugar is dissolved and set aside.
- Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Add the shrimp and stir fry until they turn pink and opaque, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Lower the heat on the pan to medium, add the remaining tablespoon of oil along with the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the eggs, cook until set, then break them into small pieces with your spatula.
- Combine the rice noodles, carrot and scallions with the eggs. Add the shrimp, drizzle with the reserved sauce and toss gently to combine.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired and continue cooking just long enough to heat the noodles, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Just before plating, toss the mixture with the bean sprouts and cilantro.
- To serve, divide the Pad Thai between four serving plates, top with crushed peanuts and garnish with a wedge of lime.
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