Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pad Thai

Hot, sour, salty and sweet....thinking about Thai food always takes me back to when I was an eager and naive 18 year old backpacking through Thailand without a care in the world, or at least that's how I remember it now. I'm sure I must have had some worries.. like what should I eat today? how late should I sleep in today? Aaaah, to be 18 again.. I was so young I never even drank alcohol since I genuinely hadn't developed a taste for it yet and I wore nothing on my feet but a cheap pair of flip flops for 4 solid months. The only way I'd ever do that now is if I was pregnant and my feet were too swollen to fit into proper shoes.

As I ate my way through Thailand as I like to say, I would frequently gobble up pad thai from the street carts, devour sweet coconut sticky rice with mango, indulge in heavenly coconut green curry and oh, not to forget my all time favourite Thai dish Som Tam - green papaya salad. The food was absolutely mind blowing to my 18 year old small town Canadian self. It's a no wonder I came home with my face a little rounder and my cotton hippy clothes just a little tighter. But hey, at least I stayed healthy on my travels right? and I had one heck of a time.

Fast forward 14 years...and I still have a soft spot for Thai food and one of my favourite Thai dishes to make at home is pad thai which translates as "fried thai style".  I'll admit it's not necessarily a throw together at the last minute type of meal but if you've got a little extra time it's well worth the effort. I made mine with tofu but feel free to use shrimp, chicken, beef or any other protein you'd like.

Pad Thai (serves 5)
adapted slightly from Rebar Modern Food Cookbook
prep time: approx. 45 minutes

1 package rice noodles
3/4 cup frozen peas (run briefly under warm water to thaw)
1 block firm tofu
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 cups bean sprouts
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro or basil, or both
3 eggs, beaten
8 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 Tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)

crushed roasted peanuts
chopped basil (or cilantro)
wedge of lime

1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons molasses
1 Tablespoon sambal Oelek
pepper to taste
2-3 teaspoon red pepper flakes (this is personal preference)

substitute prawns, shrimp, chicken, pork or beef in place of tofu


1. Cook noodles in boiling water until done. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water and put aside.

2. Make the sauce by whisking together sauce ingredients.

3. Beat eggs and scramble, place aside

4. Toss cubed tofu in sesame oil and bake on high until lightly golden. Note: This is an added step which I like. You could omit this and just toss the cubed tofu in with the pan before frying the noodles. Note: This step is not needed if using alternate meat listed below.

Now fry it all together!

5. Heat peanut oil in a large wok or very large frying pan and fry garlic until golden. Add noodles, cooked eggs, tofu, bean sprouts, peas and sauce. Once warmed and bean sprouts have become less crunchy add chopped green onions and basil and/or cilantro. Garnish and serve.


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