Authentic Homemade Pad Thai
Updated: Jun 12
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This recipe has been a family favorite for years. I've fine-tuned the recipe to where I feel pretty darn satisfied with it now. Our girls routinely ask for it so I've had a lot of practice making it.
This version is with chicken, though other authentic versions use shrimp and some other additions like pickled radish, dried shrimp, etc. I'm sharing the version that my family loves without these other truly authentic, streetfood options that you'd find roaming around Bangkok. It's similar to what you'd find in restaurants in Western parts of the world as they often make it a bit more palatable to Western tastes.
Many dishes in Thailand incorporate three distinct flavors: sweet, sour, and salty. The sauce that is cooked into the noodles contains these three flavors. I absolutely love Thai cuisine and the overlapping and layering of these different flavors makes it so satisfying and incredibly tasty.
Healthy AND Delicious
The wonderful thing about making your own food is that you are in control of the ingredients. You can choose foods that are nutrient-dense, fresh, and do not contain unnecessary preservatives or harmful chemicals. Cooking at home means you are in charge of the oils that you use, as well. It should go without saying that going out to eat often guarantees that you will be consuming rancid and/or highly inflammatory oils.
Pad Thai has numerous healthy ingredients. The sauce contains tamarind, fermented fish sauce, and palm sugar. All of these ingredients have beneficial nutrients:
Tamarind is high in polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Fermented fish sauce contains hydrolysates which are known to encourage tissue repair
Palm sugar is an unrefined sugar and contains potassium, zinc, iron, manganese, and copper. Thiamine, riboflavin, choline, and folic acid can also be found in palm sugar.
Authentic Homemade Pad Thai
Quality cooking oil that tolerates high heat
1 package of 8 oz. rice noodles
1 and 1/2 cups or 353 ml of tamarind concentrate
1/3 cup or 79 ml of quality fish sauce
2 large chicken breasts
3 to 4 tbs or 42 to 56 grams of palm sugar
1 tsp or 4 grams garlic powder or to taste
2 tsp or 8 grams salt or to taste
2 cups of fresh bean sprouts
2 green onions
1-2 tbs or 13 to 26 grams of crushed peanuts for garnish (optional)
A handful of cilantro for garnish (optional)
red Thai chili peppers (optional)
Soak the rice noodles in cool water for at least one hour prior to cooking. Cut the chicken breasts into bite-size strips and set aside. Cut the green onions into 1-inch strips and set aside. Cut the limes into wedges and set aside.
Add the tamarind concentrate, fish sauce, and palm sugar to a saucepan and heat to medium. Turn down a bit and allow the sauce to simmer. The sauce should cook down after about 15 minutes and should thicken. If it's too thick then just add a bit of water. The fish sauce is the only salty element to the dish so check the sauce to see if it needs more saltiness. If so, you can add more fish sauce or salt depending on your preference. I usually add a bit more salt to mine. It is a strong flavor but this will be added to the noodles later in the process. After the sauce has reduced a little and has thickened a bit, you can remove it from the heat and set it aside. Taste it. This is your pad Thai sauce. If you need to adjust flavors to your liking, then do it.
Take your bite-size chicken strips and cook them in a pan with quality high-heat cooking oil. I have loads of tallow on hand at the moment so that's what I used, but avocado oil is a good choice, as well. Cook them until they are a little bit brown and season them on both sides with the garlic powder and salt. After the chicken strips have been cooked through, set them aside.
Now, it's time to cook the noodles. Set your wok or wide pan to medium heat. I usually do this next part in small amounts at a time because I don't have a giant wok to add all the noodles at once! Tongs are useful when cooking with these noodles, just as an FYI. I then take a portion of the soaked noodles and add them to an already hot oiled pan and add about 2-3 tablespoons (or a small ladle full) of Pad Thai sauce. Use the tongs to turn the noodles over and you'll see that they are cooking in the sauce. After the noodles are softened and cooked through, place them into your serving pan. Repeat these steps until you reach the last batch of noodles. While cooking the last batch of noodles, add an egg to the pan and scramble it with this last batch. After cooking the last noodles with the egg, place them into the serving pan. Now you are ready to assemble all of the ingredients together.
Place your fresh bean sprouts into the serving pan with the noodles along with the green onions and cooked chicken strips. Mix together well. Add chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts as a garnish. Serve with lime wedges and hot peppers, if desired.