One of my favourite meals is pad thai from Kao San Road in downtown Toronto. Something about the sweet and spicy sauce mixed with the tangy citrus of freshly squeezed lime is absolute perfection. As much as my husband and I love it, the restaurant is too far from our home to allow for regular visits so I decided to try my hand at homemade pad thai. I looked up some recipes and after finding several, some with disconcerting ingredients like tomato sauce, I found a few that I adapted to make this one. My pad thai is no where near as delicious as Kao San Road and if you are ever in the Toronto area I strongly recommend a visit, but it’s a pretty tasty substitute. You could easily make this dish with chicken or tofu instead of shrimp depending on your tastes.
Package Thai rice noodles
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp soya sauce
1 tbsp tamarind paste disolved in 1/4 cup warm water
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp Sriracha
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp white pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
Red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Handful of cilantro, chopped
2 chives, minced
Wok (you can also use a regular frying pan, but this will likely be harder and more messy)
First, dissolve your cornstarch in the soya sauce then mix with your shrimp and set aside.
Next, mix your tamarind, fish sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha and white pepper and set aside. This will be the sauce for your pad thai.
Finally, chop up your veggies and set aside. This dish cooks very quickly and if you have to chop as you go your noodles and shrimp will become overcooked.
Put a large pot of water on to boil, then add your noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes (or the time on the bag). The noodles should be cooked through, but essentially al dente. When they are finished, rinse immediately with cold water to prevent sticking and set aside. Next, heat some oil and the minced garlic in your wok at medium heat until fragrant, then add your shrimp and cook. The shrimp are finished when they become entirely pink. You do not want your shrimp to be completely curled up, this means you’ve overcooked them and the result will be the texture of rubber and less flavourful.
When your shrimp are cooked, add your noodles and pad thai sauce. Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes then add your peppers and cook for another 1-2 minutes then turn off the heat. Taste your dish to decide if you’d like more fish sauce at this time, I sometimes add another tablespoon or two. Finally, squeeze half a lime over your pad thai and mix.
Portion your pad thai into servings and top each bowl with some chives, cilantro and peanuts (plus more lime juice). Enjoy!