Overloading the Machine

Pad Thai

Recipes / Main Courses

Based on the Boston Globe, 2005 October 5

Serves 4.

  • 1/2 pound rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons preserved radish, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dried chili peppers
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar or dark brown sugar, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup water, or more if needed
  • 2 cups fresh bean sprouts, soaked in cold water and drained
  • 1 bunch Chinese leeks or scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons peanuts, toasted and chopped
  • Fresh cilantro (for garnish)
  • 4 lime wedges

1. In a bowl, soak noodles in lukewarm water for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are soft. Drain and set aside.

2. In a wok or large skillet over high heat, heat 1/4 cup of the oil. Fry tofu for 2 minutes or until lightly brown. Turn and fry the other sides for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat; drain tofu on paper towels.

3. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup hot water and tamarind paste. With a spoon, mash the mixture to make tamarind juice. Discard pulp and seeds; reserve juice.

4. Return the pan to high heat and heat the remaining 1/4 cup of the oil. Add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the tofu and toss to combine. Add the preserved radish, chili peppers, sugar, and 5 tablespoons tamarind juice. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

5. Add the noodles and toss gently. Add 1/2 cup water, cover, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Toss, taking care not to break the noodles, which should be clear and soft. If they are not cooked or seem dry, add another 1/4 cup water, cover, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more.

6. Add bean sprouts, Chinese leeks or scallions, and 1/2 cup of the peanuts. Quickly toss. Immediately taste and adjust seasoning with sugar, and tamarind juice, if you like, to balance the sweet, sour, and salty tastes.

8. Garnish with remaining peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Notes: This is a base to work from toward a better Pad Thai recipe. It might need some more tofu added to it, since I removed the eggs and the shrimp from the original recipe. Also, I'm not sure what people use in place of fish sauce usually, if anything.

This page was last modified on 2011 December 20.