One of my kids’ favorite foods was and still is Pad Thai. It was always the go-to take out dish after long soccer or baseball games. We ordered it so much that I decided to start making it myself and I tried to make it as authentic as possible. The problem was that the restaurants we were ordering from were serving Pad Thai that was kind of red and that meant they were using a lot of ketchup instead of Tamarind Paste. My authentic Pad Thai looked brown. My kids agreed that it tasted good, but they missed the reddish coloring. So, I had to compromise and add some ketchup, which I mixed with Sriracha Chili Sauce to give the dish some fire. Since then, this has been the Pad Thai recipe that I use. I taught my friend Alicia in Mexico to make it for her kids, which made me a popular guest and I just made it here for my son while I am in Singapore and the ingredients were really easy to find.
The only difference I have found in how Pad Thai turns out is in the brand of Tamarind Paste you use. The one from India is really dark and you need a lot less. The Mexican Paste sold in a block is by far my favorite but harder to find and there are many other jarred versions that you are going to have to experiment with. You can also add any kind of meat that you want – just stir fry it ahead of time and add it in at the end. In any case, I think it is best with just tofu and eggs and usually serve other dishes with it that have meat. Our favorite accompaniment is Crying Tiger – or Thai Beef Salad (see previous post for Thai Salad Dressing recipe). Pad Thai is really good left over – in fact it is still my now grown kids’ favorite breakfast!
2 - 3 Tablespoons Tamarind Paste from the jar or block (I used the Tamicon brand from India this time, which is very intense and dark so I used the lesser amount– add more if using a milder, lighter colored brand)
3/4 - 1 cup cup hot water (depending on the thickness of the Tamarind Paste)
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
¼ cup or more brown sugar
1 - 2 Tablespoon Sriracha (or other chili sauce)
1 Tablespoon Ketchup (use one tablespoon more if not using chili sauce)
2 shallots sliced very thin
3 cloves garlic minced
4 scallions (green onions) cut into 2 inch lengths and then into slivers
1 package firm tofu, drained and cut into small cubes
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup bean sprouts
12 oz rice noodles (1/4 inch wide)
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup toasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 – 2 teaspoons Chili Flakes (to amp up the heat)
Soak noodles in a large bowl of very warm water (from the faucet is fine) for about 20 -30 minutes.
Mix tamarind sauce, hot water, fish sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha and ketchup together and taste – adding more sugar or water if necessary.
Heat wok and add in 1 Tablespoon of oil. Add eggs and scramble until just set and remove from pan. Add additional 3 Tablespoons of oil and put in shallots and garlic. Cook until shallots start to wilt and add in tofu. Cook until tofu just begins to brown. Add in additional 2 Tablespoons oil and the rice noodles. Pour in sauce, toss to coat and cook until noodles soften. Add in bean sprouts and scallions and scrambled eggs (and meat if using) and toss with the wok spatula until everything is hot. Serve with chopped peanuts, cilantro leaves and lime wedges.
Five Element Analysis
Rice Noodles and Tofu, which are the basis of this dish belong to the Metal Element as do the garlic, shallots, green onions and cilantro so that element is most dominant. Eggs and fish sauce contribute the Water Element. The Tamarind and bean sprouts add the Wood Element and the Sriracha Chili Sauce, Ketchup and Chili Flakes bring in the Fire Element. The brown sugar adds the Earth Element but this element needs a little more support. So, serve with a side salad of cucumbers or Crying Tiger – Thai Beef Salad - like we do or add a sweet fruit dessert and then you would have a balanced Five Element meal.