The cuisine of Thailand is arguably one of the best in the world. It’s bright and fresh; and the fiery chilis burn. It often causes you to wince from the sharp bite of lime and vinegar. Pad Thai however, while undoubtably a staple of the Thai food scene, has none of those aspects.
However, it is possibly the greatest introductory dish to those new to Thai food, and is usually one of the first street foods enjoyed by first-time visitors to the land of smiles.
While it’s an incredibly simple recipe to prepare, each one seems to have it’s own unique, subtle differences. We’ve eaten Pad Thai all over the country, from Bangkok’s legendary Khao San Road to the hills of Pai, the stunning beaches of the south.
The town of Ao Nang, down in Krabi, is where we found our favourite. We don’t know the specifics of what made this one stand out, a couple of simple additions were obvious. Most notably was the addition of caramelized shallots that added an interesting dimension we hadn’t encountered before.
Although Pad Thai is typically a fairly mild dish, we’ve added just a little heat to our version by roasting the peanuts in chilli oil. Also, though eggs are usually scrambled into the dish while cooking, we prefer adding a partially cooked egg on top. The runny yolk adds a nice richness to the sauce. And of course, we’ve added those amazing caramelized shallots.
Can easily be made vegan by omitting the egg and prawns. Or go the other way and swap the tofu for chicken or pork.
(Makes 2 servings)
1/2 cup Peanuts
1 tsp crushed Chili
1 tsp Oil
2 Shallots, sliced thin
1/4 tsp Oil
2 Tbsp Fish sauce
2 tbsp Tamarind paste
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Palm sugar (regular white sugar will work)
1/2 Lime, juiced
2 tbsp oil
1/2 pound Prawns
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 Shallots, thinly sliced
400g Tofu, cut into thick slices
1 Thai birds-eye chilli (these little guys are hot. Use more or none depending on your tolerance)
2 Green onions, sliced
200g Thick rice noodles
A couple handfuls of bean sprouts, roughly equal to the quantity of noodles
1/2 Lime, cut into 4 wedges (for serving)
Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, peanuts and chilli flakes and toss to coat. Stir frequently until browned slightly. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel.
Heat oil in frying pan on medium-high, add shallots. Watch carefully, stirring constantly so as not to burn. Fry until crispy and brown. Place on paper towel until later.
Mix fish sauce, tamarind paste, water and sugar in a pan and heat to melt sugar and reduce slightly. Remove from heat, add lime juice and set aside. It might taste a little tart and strange but it all comes together in the end!
Cook noodles according to package directions and set aside.
Heat oil in wok or large frying pan, fry tofu until brown and crispy on all sides. Remove from pan onto a paper towel.
Heat pan back up to medium heat and add shallots. Fry until softened then add garlic and shrimp, fry for 3 minutes, or until shrimp are cooked through.
Add sauce and stir to reheat. Add noodles to the pan and mix until well coated and heated through. Add tofu, bean sprouts, green onion and sliced chillies. Toss to combine.
Cook an egg to your liking. We prefer soft poached or lightly fried.
To Serve: Place into bowls and top with egg, caramelized shallots, peanuts, and a little more green onion and chillies.
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