International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Pad Thai

Pad Thai fried rice noodles

Thai stir-fried rice noodles

Image © iStockphoto

Average: 3.3 (6 votes)

Pad thai is often considered the quintessential Thai dish, even though it has only been around for the last 60 or 70 years. Pad thai is Thai fast food, tossed up in noodle shops or made on the street at innumerable pad thai carts.

Sometimes spelled phad thai, phat thai or paad thai.

4 to 6 servings


  • Rice noodles (the flat, wide kind) -- 1 (8-ounce) package
  • Fish sauce -- 1/3 cup
  • Tamarind water (see notes) -- 1/3 cup
  • Brown or palm sugar -- 1/4 cup
  • Oil -- 3 to 4 tablespoons
  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined -- 1/3 pound
  • Firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes -- 1/2 pound
  • Garlic, minced -- 4 to 5 cloves
  • Shallots or scallions, thinly sliced -- 3
  • Eggs, beaten -- 3
  • Mung bean sprouts -- 2 cups
  • Roasted peanuts, chopped roughly -- 1/2 cup
  • Limes, quartered -- 2
  • Cilantro -- 1/2 bunch


  1. Place the rice noodles in a large bowl and add enough hot water to cover. Let the noodles soak for 20 to 30 minutes, or until softened but still firm. Drain and set aside.
  2. In another bowl, mix together the fish sauce, tamarind water and sugar to make a sauce. Adjust the ingredients to get a tasty balance of sweet, sour and salty.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high flame. Add shrimp and stir fry until just cooked through. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add the tofu to the hot oil and stir fry until it just starts to brown.
  5. Add the garlic and shallots or scallions and stir fry for about a minute more, or until the garlic just starts to brown.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the drained noodles and fold them in carefully to heat through.
  7. Push the noodles to one side of the wok or pot and pour the eggs into the empty area. Scramble eggs in this area until cooked through, then break into pieces and fold gently into the noodles.
  8. Pour in the sauce and stir gently to coat the noodles without making them soggy. You may not need all the sauce.
  9. Remove from heat and gently stir in the sprouts, shrimp and half the peanuts.
  10. Mound in a serving bowl or platter. Garnish with the remaining peanuts and the cilantro. Have lime wedges available for each diner to squeeze over his or her noodles to taste.

Pad Thai Variations

  • Substitute chicken or pork for the shrimp.
  • Eliminate meat altogether for a vegetarian dish. Instead of fish sauce, use soy sauce.
  • To make tamarind water: Break off a piece of tamarind pulp (can be bought in any Asian or Latino market) about the size of a walnut. Mash in about 1/3 cup hot water until it is dissolved. Strain through a sieve to remove the fibers and any seeds and proceed with the recipe.
  • Instead of tamarind water, You can use lemon juice, lime juice, cider vinegar or rice vinegar.
  • Instead of brown or palm sugar, use white sugar.
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ketchup or Sriracha chile sauce to the sauce ingredients for a different flavor.
  • Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or thin slices of Thai chiles with the tofu for spicier noodles.
  • Other possible garnishes: pickled daikon, pea sprouts, thinly sliced cucumbers.


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