This dish, for me, is a way to consume leftovers and a delicious option at that. Although you can follow a recipe, I don’t usually, having made it enough times to prepare it by taste and feel. Since I was cooking this one with Mom, who has celiac disease, we used rice noodles, but I’ve done it with plain old spaghetti noodles.
And it can be used to reheat leftover noodles, even, if you rinsed yours when they were first finished, or oiled them, and they haven’t gone into a gluey mass. Just try to make sure that you don’t overcook the noodles, which is very easy to do with rice noodles, in particular.
When Mom was shopping for the ingredients, she couldn’t find anything but raw peanuts, so as you see, we roasted some for this dish (and others later!). The peanuts are a big part of Pad Thai, roasted, chopped, and sprinkled into it. Don’t skip them, and also, give it a try. They don’t taste quite like you are expecting in this dish.
- Start by preparing your noodles. Not all rice noodles should be boiled, so read the directions on the package. While the noodles are doing their thing, prep any vegetables you will be adding: bean sprouts, spring onions, thinly sliced carrot, snow peas… I’ll use anything that’s in the refrig. If they are in season, dandelion greens, sorrel, or cress are all wonderful ways to eat your weeds.
- Once the noodles are ready, put them aside and start preparing:
- 1 lb Meat: chicken, pork, shrimp… whatever you want. If preparing from raw, you will be sauteing this with the following ingredients until cooked through.
- 1-2 tbsp Fish Sauce (Nuoc Mam)
- 1-2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Palm Sugar (brown sugar works)
- in Peanut Oil (enough to coat bottom of pan, usually 2-3 tbsp)
Once the meat is cooked through, pour into serving dish and add more oil to the pan. Quickly stir-fry the vegetables over high heat until just wilted. No more! Or they will be overcooked. Add the meat and sauce mixture back into the pan and stir to mix, then add the noodles, chopped peanuts, and if desired, chopped red pepper flakes for spiciness. Finish with a dash of lemon juice, or serve with wedges of lime or lemon so each person can garnish to their liking.
As with so many Thai meals, this is intended to have a balance of sweet, sour, savoury, and the ineffable thing called umami. And like most stir fry, you will find that you almost never make it the same way twice. If you are going to use thinly-sliced cooked meat, it will take even less time, as the first step will just serve to heat through the sauce and meat.
You can find another recipe for Pad Thai here.