Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Finally, a pad thai recipe I’m happy with!

on June 11, 2011

Hubby and I love Thailand. We’ve been with each other about 3 times, and I’ve been probably about 7 or 8 times in my life. We’d go more often if we could afford it. In fact we’d live there if we could get decent jobs.

For me, it’s nostalgia. We used to go there on holiday when I was a kid. And before you start thinking my parents are globetrotting millionaires (although, ironically that’s not far off the mark!) we lived in Asia (various countries over the years) and it was the equivalent of going to Spain for those that live in the UK. Holidays are always happy times and for me, Thailand represents the best of my childhood and my happiest memories (despite getting extremely horribly sunburnt one time and attacked by a jellyfish another!). For hubby on the other hand, it represents pure escapism from life in England. From rules and regulations, high cost of living, from planning and organising (that’s not England, that’s just me – but I don’t plan in Thailand!). You just buy a ticket, get on a plane, turn up on Khao San road and begin an adventure that involves good cheap beer, fantastic food, beautiful locations and wonderful people – what’s not to love!

And nothing quite epitomises Thailand, or at least the Thailand of holidaymakers and backpackers, than Pad Thai. It’s a favourite the world over. And try as I might, I can’t make it the same as it is in Thailand. But then neither can the Thai restaurants here. Maybe you need some humidity and extremely hot gas burners (I do use gas in the kitchen but it’s probably turned down according to the rules and regulations!) – maybe it somehow affects the food and how it’s cooked. But, after years of trying, this recipe is one I’m satisfied with. And weirdly, doesn’t involve any tamarind paste whatsoever. Which I found a bit dissapointing, but there you go.

The recipe starts, as always, with another recipe. This is where I started http://orangecook.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/pad-thai/

But, of course, I couldn’t stick to that! It has ketchup in it for starters, and that’s just not done! Although, if you don’t have any tomato puree, ketchup is a good substitute. And also, I’m really not a fan of tofu. It comes from being a child in China in the ’80s and being made to eat is – it’s just associated with too many bad memories! So I left that out. Besides, in Thailand, you put whatever meat or meat substitute you like in it – prawns, seafood, chicken, pork, beef, tofu, whatever really – you don’t put all of it in! Most Thais couldn’t afford to eat like that.

So here’s my version. And it’s been hubby approved, and he is a proper Pad Thai obsessive. So you can rest assured, it’s very good.

Mrs Jackson’s Pad Thai

Serves 2

  • 150g thin flat rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp oil (vegetable, sunflower, peanut, sesame)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely sliced (if you have shallots, use 2-3 of these instead)
  • 1 carrot, julienned (finely sliced) (use any vege here – green beans, mangetout, sugar snap peas etc)
  • 1 pepper, finely sliced
  • a small knob of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 red birds eye chillis, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 14 raw king prawns (grey) – or any other meat.
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp paste (you can get this in most good Chinese supermarkets, I used a Burmese one – Balachang)
  • large handful of beansprouts
  • handful of chopped, fresh coriander
  • 1 lime, juice of half and other half quartered to serve
  • 50g roasted peanuts, chopped
  1. Soak the noodles in very hot, but not boiling water until softened. If you find that they are not fully softening after about 10-15 minutes, you can put them in a sieve pour boiling water over them and then remove them after 90 seconds, and run under cold water to prevent further cooking. Over cooking will make them gooey and slimy.
  2. Meanwhile, prep everything else – once you start cooking it’s very fast.
  3. Heat the oil on high heat in a wok until it starts to smoke. Add the garlic and fry very quickly until it starts to brown. Then add all the other vege except the beansprouts. Fry quickly for a minute or two until they start to soften. If using other meat, slice it very thinly and add it after the garlic. Fry for a couple of minutes until it starts to cook and brown before adding the vege.
  4. Then add the chilli and ginger. Mix quickly for a few seconds, then push the vege mix to one side of the pan and pour in the beaten egg. Let it cook for a bit before breaking it up with your spatula and pushing it into the veges.
  5. Next add the prawns, stir and mix well for a couple of minutes until they start to turn pink.
  6. Then tip your prepared noodles into the wok and mix well to combine.
  7. Next add the tomato puree, fish sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and shrimp paste. Stir well to mix and combine.
  8. Now add the beansprouts and the coriander. Mix again to combine and remove from the heat.
  9. Squeeze the half lime over the noodles.
  10. Serve in bowls with the peanuts on top.
  11. Enjoy the beautiful noodliness 🙂
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