Shrimp Pad Thai is the national dish of Thailand, a stir-fry noodle dish with that special balance of sweet, spicy, salty and sour that is uniquely Thai. In this recipe I give you a range of amounts for the sauce ingredients so you can adjust the four elements to suit your own taste. Make notes and perfect it. This is a quick weeknight dinner in my house and we know how we like it.
Despite the name ‘Shrimp’ Pad Thai many versions include chicken as well as the shrimp. The combination adds another element to the over all taste and I love it. The addition of bean sprouts is also quite specific. Although bean sprouts are stirred into the hot noodles some people feel that adding fresh bean sprouts at the end creates a desired contrast. Said to be essential.
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Rice noodles deserve a place in every gluten free pantry. They are made from rice flour and are available dried or fresh in a variety of widths. Pad Thai is typically made with a wide rice noodle similar to fettuccini. Although fresh rice noodles are available I prefer the convenience of dry noodles. In my pantry I always keep thin vermicelli noodles (to make salads and salad rolls) and one wider variety that I use in this recipe.
Apparently, the biggest travesty in making Pad Thai is overcooking the noodles. Many recipes call for soaking the noodles in warm water but I use boiling water. I pour boiling water over the noodles and let them soak for five minutes. (Yes, you should set a timer.) The noodles always get a little more cooking during the stir-fry process and this method consistently works for me. I sometimes accidentally overcook them (didn’t set the timer) but the dish still tastes delicious with broken noodles. It just takes a little practice to figure out how to cook them perfectly.
I can’t say it enough, you really should have a wok. A standard flat bottom wok isn’t that expensive, will last for years (possibly decades) and it cooks Asian food best. I sometimes demonstrate cooking in a wok side-by-side cooking in a frying pan. Even the nicest All-Clad non-stick skillet can’t compare to a wok. It is an excellent investment for even the smallest amount of Asian cooking. Trust me.
Fish sauce and tamarind are two naturally gluten free ingredients that you need to keep in your pantry for cooking Thai dishes. Tamarind gives a unique sour taste to dishes. I prefer the tamarind concentrate for ease (sold in small plastic tubs) rather than the tamarind pulp or paste that needs to be softened with water and strained.
Fish sauce is like a condiment used in almost every Thai dish, just as salt and soy sauce are used in other cultures. Got vegan friends? The best news is that this Vegan Fish Sauce Substitute is fabulous and allows vegans to enjoy Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. I used it for one of my Thai cooking classes and it worked in every dish we made. In fact, we all decided we couldn’t tell the difference from the regular fish sauce.
Let me know in the comments below how you like your Shrimp Pad Thai.
From time to time I write a travel post for my friend Sue over at Travel Tales of Life. This is the one I wrote about our trip to Thailand many years ago.
|1-1½ Tbsp tamarind concentrate|
|¼ cup GF chicken stock|
|3 Tbsp fish sauce|
|1 Tbsp GF soy sauce|
|½-1 tsp chile sauce|
|⅛ tsp ground pepper|
|3-4 Tbsp brown sugar|
|8 oz. wide rice noodles|
|1 boneless chicken breast chopped into small pieces|
|1 Tbsp GF soy sauce|
|12-15 medium raw shrimp, shells removed|
|2 Tbsp vegetable oil|
|4 green onions, sliced|
|3 cloves garlic, minced|
|1 tsp grated ginger|
|1-2 fresh Thai chilies, sliced|
|2 cups fresh bean sprouts|
|1 cup fresh bean sprouts|
|¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro|
|⅓ cup salted peanuts, chopped|
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