Easy breezy pad thai

I have always had a love-hate relationship with pad thai. I ate pad thai for the very first time at a Thai restaurant in San Diego. An evening dinner out on a student budget used to be a huge treat then! A group of us had once visited a decently good Thai place which was bus-accessible (bus-accessibility was a must for any outing!). As it was our very first Thai experience, we had pretty much asked the waitress to order the menu for us and she had suggested a spicy pad thai followed by some sweet coconut ice-cream! I absolutely loved the flat rice noodles drenched in a tangy, hot and sweet sauce and crunchy peanuts on top.

Over the time though I realized that a good pad thai is not easy to come by. Many times either the sauce is too strong or the whole dish is soggy or oily! After a few unfortunate encounters with pad thai I eventually changed my thai restaurant go-to dish from pad thai to a green curry dish which probabilistically is always decent.

But the cravings for a good pad thai won't stop! Then recently I came across this Mark Bittman's minimalist column urging people to think about pad thai as a make-at-home option and I wondered why I never thought about making pad thai at home. Strange how sometimes in your mind some dishes just get so associated with restaurants that you don't ever think of making them at home! The recipe seemed easy enough, was uber-flexible and luckily I had all the ingredients at hand (thanks to my new work route which is en-route an ever-inviting asian store).
I made this dish on a weekday evening. It came together fairly quickly. You make the sauce (which is just putting things together in a bowl), soak the noodles in hot water and meanwhile stir fry the ingredients and bring everything together in a wok. Easy breezy!

The pad thai was extremely tasty. My husband and I enjoyed it with some hot peach flavored tea which was a most flavorful gift from a grad-school friend. All-in-all a pad thai dinner well-served at last!

Source: adapted from here
makes 3 medium servings or 4 small servings
8ounces flat rice noodles

Sauce (adjust according to taste):
4Tbsp tamarind paste (taste your tamarind paste; every one is different. If its very tart, use less to begin with and then add more as you go. For 8ounces noodles, I needed 4Tbsp Joy tamarind concentrate)
3Tbsp rice wine vinegar
4Tbsp sugar
3Tbsp fish sauce
3/4C warm water

2 cloves of garlic - minced
14oz extra firm tofu
4 bok choy or some chopped chinese cabbage
1 egg (optional)
peanut or canola oil

handful of roasted chopped peanuts
chopped scallions
bean sprouts
lime or orange wedges
crushed red pepper
** Fish sauce as the name says is not vegetarian. It has fermented anchovies. You can get a fake 'fish' sauce which is vegetarian or just omit that ingredient and adjust the other flavors accordingly.
** Egg is optional. Feel free to omit it for a vegetarian meal.
** Tofu can be easily replaced with shrimp or any other protein if you prefer. 

Prepare the sauce:
Mix all the sauce ingredients. Taste. It should not be very tangy or very sweet. Adjust the ingredients per taste.

Prepare the noodles:
Pour warm water over the dried noodles in a large bowl. Cover and let stand for 10mins or so until the noodles are cooked through.

Prepare the stir-fry:
Chop tofu and bok-choy into small byte sized pieces. In a wok or a large non-stick pan, heat some oil on high heat. When the oil is very hot, add tofu pieces. Fry on each side for a few minutes until the tofu skins are crispy. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan if desired. Add garlic and bok-choy and stir fry for a few minutes on high heat. Add the egg and scramble for a few minutes.

Put everything together:
Add the noodles and the sauce back to the pan. Mix well; add some salt and cook for a few minutes until the noodles absorb most of the sauce (do not overcook).

Remove from heat. Add tofu and the garnish ingredients. Serve hot!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Your journey on the discovery to the best pad thai ,sounds very interesting,as muc as does everything in ur wonderful blog...
Ur pics sure look like u topped the better /best restarnts in town:-))
and love how easy u make it sound and yeah i love Marks recipes too ,but ur pic here is really super...
how is the move to the new place, u sure seem settled by now with dear hubby:-)))
Super weekend to u...
sangeeta said…
lovely pictures and wonderful recipe ...i have never had pad thai n now i know how to go about it.
green curry n even hot red curry are my fave thai food n i make the paste myself...
Have to look for rice noodles , bean sprouts are rare to find too...though i make my own tofu.....hey your pics are enticing me enough.
indosungod said…
Pad Thai looks so very inviting.
I have heard that the taste of pad thai determines the quality of a Thai restaurant. Yes once cooked at home it is easy to cook and lends itself nicely to variations.
PJ said…
Mia, thanks! The recipe is really very easy... as I was typing it up I thought that your wonderful shrimps would be a great addition here!

Sangeeta, bean sprouts are very optional.. actually, thats the best part about this recipe, pretty much anything except the sauce and the noodles are swappable. So feel free to use whatever is easily available :)

Indo, so true, the best part about cooking at home is the variations. My husband does not like peanuts and the egg yolk so I can easily add just the egg white instead and skip the yolk and also experimenting with sauce flavors and stir fry veggies is fun to!
Nupur said…
I was excited too, to see that minimalist column, and now looking at your pictures, I need to try the recipe ASAP.
Inji said…
wow, that does sound super easy and look great too. Will give it a try.
I love pad thai.. that is one of my fav if I go to thai restua. Its long time I did not prepare this ..u have reminded me and tempted me PJ. Sure this is going to be my tomm dinner. I too have posted it..take a look when u find time PJ.

PranisKitchen said…
Delicious pad thai.My hus favorite dih mine too but i always prefer the stir fry veg/chicken.
yours looks so yummy and perfectly done..
i think if we use the store bought pad thai sauce it should be very easy..
PJ said…
Nupur, thanks! I have had very good success rate with most of Mark Bittman's recipes so I also couldn't wait for this pad thai after seeing the minimalist column.

Inji, thanks! I hope you do give it a try and let me know how it goes :)

Pavithra, your pad thai version looks so delicious and yummy! love the addition of pickled radishes; i would have to look for them next time.

PranisKitchen, yes, store bought pad thai sauce will definitely make it easier specially if you don't own all the ingredients at home (which was the case with me a year or so ago). Things like fish sauce if you don't use regularly it might make sense to buy the pad thai sauce for a one time dish.
Lori said…
It does look delicious. I have been wanting to make Pad Thai since I saw Mark Bittman make it on NY Times video. He made it look simple. Who knew.
tasteofbeirut said…
This photo is so exquisite! I wanted to reach out and swallow the whole plate! Love pad thai! Don't eat it enough though.
suvi said…
We love pad thai and yours looks delectable!
Sonia said…
It's Sunday and 11.51AM here and why are you torching a hungry soul by placing this wonderful plate in front of my pc??? :D And peach flavored tea? I don't think I can imagine beyond my ginger tea. ;)

I love pad-thai and tried at home a long time back. it's time to make it again. Thanks for reminder. Pics are enough to kill me. :)
PJ said…
Lori, the video is really good as most of his minimalist videos are. This dish was really easy though, just as long as you have all the ingredients in the pantry.. because some of them aren't very commonly used once in our kitchens.

TasteOfBeirut, thanks! I am so glad you liked the photo :)

Aqua, thanks!

Sonia, he he, time to make some more pad thai then ;) see if you were living closeby I would say just stop by and I'll keep a plate ready but as thats not the case, I'll send you a virtual plate instead :)
Pari Vasisht said…
Same pinch dear, I adore the Pad Thai and I love the green and yellow curry. I had the most amazing Yellow curry when we were visiting Nepal. If u like all these preparations then u must try a rice I posted a few months back, I guess I named it Indo-Thai fusion rice, infact it's very much a Thai phodnicha bhaat.LOL. Khoop masta jhala hota ani tula nakki avadel, you can change things according to ur taste and as u say an easy breezy one.
I always make my pad Thai without the fish sauce and I love the bite of roasted peanuts.Your pic making me hungry.
sayantani said…
hubby got some from Malayasia and we made a delicious pad thai dinner too. tye pics and recipe is awaiting their turn in my drafts. your recipe sounds authentic. would love to try this next time. looks wonderful.
Sushma Mallya said…
Seems really easy-breezy...love such simple dishes,would love to try this one, too good to resist..
PJ said…
Pari, aha, I just checked out your Indo-thai fusion rice. looks so yummy and delicious. You are right, I am sure to love this one!

Sayantani, nice! I look forward to your version of pad thai next! Malaysia sounds like real fun to visit.

Sushma, thanks! I am so glad you liked this preparation.
Unknown said…
Hi PJ ..I too oved the dish ..but never tried at home...ur recipe seems very easy and inviting....now I can try this at home....

BTW, Thanks a lot for the lovely comments u made to my posts...Those r really very inspiring...
Hari Chandana P said…
Woww... Simply superb.... looks perfect.. nice clicks too :)
Anushree said…
the picture looks very inviting! will def try this one!
This is so delicious and what you've prepared here made me crave for it now, beautiful picture PJ!!
Kanchan said…
Pad thai Snap looks beautiful !

I've never tried this @ home but love the Indian and also the typical Thai version too.
They do add lemon grass too
I guess, but I prefer without. it only
pierre said…
i have a love -love relationship with thai food !!! cheers from Pierre de Paris
tinyskillet said…
It looks beautiful and oh so good ! I would eat this one over any restaurants version any day of the week! Thanks for showing us how we can make it at home!
Priya Suresh said…
Am a sucker of thai foods, pad thai looks fantastic and mouthwatering here..
Parita said…
I am altogether on different plane, I am still yet to try Pad thai, though i have heard a lot about it but still didnt get a chance to make it at home or even have it outside. Your journey sounds very interesting, i have had the similar journeys with my bakes but the love never stops growing :)
As usual lovely pics :)
Padhu Sankar said…
Nice recipe and lovely pictures!!
PJ said…
Kamalika, you should definitely try this at home. its an easy dish and a must make for pad thai lovers :D

Hari, thanks!

Anushree, thanks! You should definitely try this.. very easy and satisfying.

Treat and Trick, thanks! I am so glad you liked the pictures and the recipe.

Kanchan, aha, I have never had pad thai with lemon grass but I am sure that would taste wonderful. Next time I should definitely add some.

Pierre, that sounds wonderful :)
Cool Lassi(e) said…
What a great dish. Pad thai is one of my favorite thai food. Love the click dear. Very very tempting. Sorry didn't stop by earlier. Pollen problem and my eyes are watery.
PJ said…
Lyndsey, thanks! I am so glad you liked it.

Priya, thanks!

Parita, always love your baked goodies! You have got to try pad thai soon then, its a love or hate.. but i think you will love it.

Padhu, thanks!

Cool Lassi(e), no problem! Hope you feel better soon, this is the season for allergies.
Kalai said…
Wonderful recipe and a perfect click PJ! I would definitely love to try this one as it sounds very easy from what you have said! A nice trip accompanied with nice foods are always treasure to remember, a lovely write-up for this recipe! I enjoyed reading the post!
Preeti Kashyap said…
I need to try this recipe ASAP. I love thai and I never had the guts to reincarnate the dish at home. Great click!
Indhu said…
WOW PJ! I am soo making this dish :). I too love pad thai but I always thought it was too difficult to make at home.. and I so understand what you meant about the bus accessibility being a must for outing.. aah.. those grad school days :)
SathyaSridhar said…
Wooow!!! PJ,,,pad thai looks great n perfect dear..my hubby just likes to have it for dinner..
Joanne said…
Oh how I love mark bittman. That man is a genius, I swear.

I like pad thai as well, but rarely order for exactly your reason. I'm a panang curry addict though.

This looks absolutely delicious! You should submit it to I Heart Cooking Clubs, a group that hosts a mark bittman round-up every week.
oh they look brilliant..im such a big fan of pad thai but never really thought of making it cos it looked so complicated..this however, sounds way too easy to pass...im def bookmarking this
Urmi said…
Very nice, wonderful and interesting dish. I never had pad thai and I am excited to prepare it. Thanks for your lovely recipe. Looks delicious, yummy and tempting. I cannot resist myself.
PJ said…
Kalai, it is easy, do try it and let me know how it goes :) Play with the sauce ingredients a little bit too to suite your taste!

Preeti, thanks! Hope you try it and let me know how it goes.

Indhu, grad-school days sure make you nostalgic, dont they!

Sathya, thanks! I am so glad you liked it.

Joanne, aha, i love penang curry too, but stands third in my line after pad thai and green curry :) Mark Bittman cooking club sounds very interesting, let me take a look. thanks!

An open Book, thanks! It was easy, glad you liked it :)

Babli, then you should definitely make it. Pad thai is something you should have once, atleats to know if you like it or not :)
Panchpakwan said…
Sound so dlicious pad thai..Feeling like grabbing your palte!:)

Shared some awards with you do collect it from by blog.
Namitha said…
Guess what I have bookmarked this Bittman's column too :D but never got around to do it...got to try it soon..thanks for inspiring Prajakta :-)
Preety said…
looks just perfect
PJ said…
Panchpakwan, thanks! i am hopping over your blog now quickly to grab the awards :)

Namitha, you are most welcome :) Do try it whenever you get a chance and let me know how goes.

Preety, thanks!
That's one good looking pad thai!! I'll have to bookmark this and make it soon!
Padmajha said…
Loved reading your post.Somehow i too can never find the Pad thai to sut my tastebuds.Leme try ur version...
Sunitha said…
It's always a treat to come by your blog and find something totally different or unusual. They help stir my gray cells to think out of the box. Pad Thai looks great and you have instilled enough courage for me to give it a try myself
TheCooker said…
After reading The column I wanted to make it right away.
After seeing your post, I will now.
PJ said…
Bethany, thanks! I hope you try it and let me know how it goes.

PJ, the best part about making it at home is you can tune the ingredients per your liking!

Nostalgia, thanks a lot for your sweet words :)

TheCooker, thanks! Do try it and let me know how it goes.
Deeba PAB said…
What a great post and an absolutely delicious pad thai. It looks finger licking good. Gorgeous pictures on your blog too! NICE!!
Cham said…
I always thought u were veg gal! There is only few who stands for the fish sauce! I like fish sauce but not my little family!
The pad thai got a very interesting flavors!
Malar Gandhi said…
Your story about discovering pad thai is interesting, always like your transparent writings. Pad thai looks delicious.
Anonymous said…
bliss-student days...pad thai looks wonderful..but then unlike u, I have mostly had a hate relationship with it.
Myvegfare said…
Hi PJ, I have never tasted a pad Thai before!!!, howzthat?, I have written some recipes in my book!!, and some thai cusines, like I wrote lot of baking things too.., when I never had a oven !!, you seem to know a lot about this dish and know it well, to how it tastes!! So, I concluded myself I am going to try yours!! and write to you how it turned out, thanks for the tips about sauces being a vegetarian.., BM it. Ibtwn, your clicks are so lovely, I loved each one of them..., you have got wonderful presentation skills..
PJ said…
Deeba, thanks and welcome to my blog! I am so glad you liked the pad thai and all the pics.

Cham, no, well, i am partial vegetarian (thats a term i have invented :D) that means i eat veg most of the times but once in a while i'll eat seafood or chicken

Malar, thanks! I am so glad you liked it.

MuncgCruchandsuch, i know, i miss student days too!

Jayasri, thanks! wow, that sounds amazing!
Hayley said…
In that plane I am with parita too..never tried pad thai..got to try now..as usual great post PJ..
Miri said…
What a coincidence!! I just posted a pad thai dish (not from scratch like your though!). This sounds like a great recipe...

Anonymous said…
Did you really use 4 tbsp or tamarind paste? I would think it would be incredibly sour. I saw the Bittman article and made it with 2 tbsp and thought the tamarind was all I could taste. Maybe I just have some really potent stuff.
PJ said…
Anon, yes, I did use 4Tbsp tamarind concentrate (the brand shown in the picture). It might be that different concentrates have different potency, I have always used the Joy concentrate from the Indian store so don't know about any other ones..
I also used 8ounces flat rice noodles (which is double of what the original recipe from Mark had used). So your 2Tbsp seems inline assuming it was for 4ounces noodles.
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