I started working on this Shrimp Pad Thai recipe after my first-ever meal of it at a local restaurant. It was delicious, with just the right combination of spice and heat, and with noodles that were so much fun to slurp.
I knew, from the first bite, that I’d want to eat it regularly. But the price? Oh, my. I just couldn’t see paying seventeen dollars per plate very often!
The following week, I began my hunt for a good Shrimp Pad Thai recipe, only to find an over-abundance of those calling for ketchup and Canola oil. Ketchup, really?! And Canola oil when sesame would give it a more authentic flavor?
AN INGREDIENT TO LOOK FOR
Truly authentic recipes called for tamarind pulp, an ingredient I couldn’t find in my small Kansas town. I had no problem finding the remaining ingredients in the Asian section of my local Kroger’s.
If you can find tamarind paste or want to order it from Amazon, just stir in 1 tablespoon. Don’t fret if you can’t get it, though: most Thai restaurants in the States don’t use it, so this recipe will taste just like the one you’ve been ordering all this time.
A DISH WITH A RICH HISTORY
Despite its name, Pad Thai originated in China where it was initially made with rice. Explorers brought it to Thailand where it quickly became popular. Then, during World War II, both war and floods led to a rice shortage in Thailand. Since rice was one of the country’s leading exports, the government encouraged people to use noodles instead.
And thus was born this delicious, noodle-based variation which has become so popular and well-loved throughout the world that it’s been called one of the world’s most delicious foods. It is also now the National Dish of Thailand.
PREP AHEAD TIPS
Although this is a speedy recipe as-is, the hour before dinner is one of the busiest in our home. I like to get a jumpstart on making it by shaking the sauce ingredients together in a Mason jar in the morning and popping that into the fridge where the shrimp are already defrosting.
This Shrimp Pad Thai recipe will stay good for three days in the refrigerator. It can be frozen, but the noodles will absorb most of the sauce, so you’ll want to make a bit extra to add before serving.
Note: This recipe first appeared on March 18, 2013. It has been revised for simplicity, and the photos updated for republication.
Shrimp Pad Thai
- 8 ounces rice noodles stir-fry style
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste or 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
- 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 1 lb. shrimp tail off
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 eggs well beaten
- 2 tablespoons unsalted peanuts chopped (optional)
- fresh lime wedges
- fresh basil and/or cilantro leaves chopped
- Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine fish sauce, tomato paste, chili garlic sauce, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl.
- Heat oils in a large skillet. Add shrimp and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp turn pink. (About 3 minutes.)
- Add sauce mixture and eggs. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Add drained noodles and stir until coated with sauce and the shrimp is mixed through. Remove from heat.
- Serve garnished with chopped basil or cilantro, chopped peanuts, and lime wedges on the side.
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