Actually, I know one person who doesn’t love it, and he’s married to my mom. He’s never tasted it, but he’s sure he doesn’t like it. In fact, he doesn’t like ANY Asian food. What a waste.
Everyone else I know who’s tried Pad Thai loves it. It’s not hard to make, despite the seemingly long list of ingredients. The version I make is simplified. I omit the dried shrimp, bean sprouts and preserved turnip. I also use vacuum packed fresh noodles, which gives me one less thing to get ready. They just need to be quickly separated when they come out of the plastic.
Simplifed Pad Thai:
- 1 lbs vacuum packed thin rice noodles
- ¼ lbs raw shrimp, deveined
- ½ block firm tofu
- 4 tbs tamarind puree (explained below)
- 2 ½ tbs fish sauce
- 2 tbs packed brown sugar
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 eggs
- 5 scallions, sliced thinly on diagonal
- 1 cup bean sprouts (optional)
- 1-2 tbs dried shrimp, pounded (optional)
- 2 tbs preserved turnips, thinly sliced (optional)
- ¼ tsp chilli powder
- 3 tbs chopped dry roasted, unsalted peanuts
- 1 handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped for garnish
- lime wedges for garnish
For the tamarind puree, use about 2-3oz from a block of tamarind, which can be purchased at your local Thai-Viet store. To soften it, put it into 1/3 to ½ cup of boiling water. Using a fork, work it until you get a slurry, then put it through a strainer to remove the pits and skins. It should be relatively thick. Store the big block in the fridge; it will keep for months in a Ziplock bag.
Combine the strained tamarind with the fish sauce and packed brown sugar (I always make more in case I have to adjust the seasonings). In a hot wok with about 2 tbs oil, fry the tofu for about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and chilli powder and sautee for another 1 minute. Remove both (the shrimp won’t be done). If you need to, add another 1 tbs oil to the wok and fry the garlic and eggs, scrambling them until barely set. Add the noodles, scallions, tamarind mixture. Stir fry for about 2 minutes, then return the shrimp and tofu back to the wok. If using, add bean sprouts, dried shrimp and preserved turnips at this point. Stir fry until the noodles are tender. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve garnished with the chopped peanuts, cilantro and lime wedges.