Classic Pad Thai with Shrimp

Pad Thai is one of those popular dishes everyone orders. It’s available at every Thai restaurant in America, and around the world. But most of us have never had the real deal, the super delicious, intensely flavorful dish that is the Classic Pad Thai. Because most restaurants, adapting it to the American palate and love of sweeter foods, add too much sugar, some even add ketchup. It becomes a one noodle dish, gloppy and too sweet, not this nuanced meal with al dente noodles. I don’t blame these restauranteurs and cooks, they’re just trying to appeal to their customers’ tastes. But, it’s a pity, because if you had this Classic Pad Thai, with it’s great interplay with sour, salty, hot and a little sweet, you would never want conventional, Americanized Pad Thai again. Well, now you can. Try this recipe today!

Classic Pad Thai with Shrimp
Serves 6
A wonderfully complex, flavorful version of the classic Thai dish, with anti-inflammatory spices, phytonutrients, low-glycemic veggies, like bean sprouts (there are more bean sprouts than rice noodles in this one!), and high protein tofu, egg, and shrimp. There's a little bit of sugar - a banned substance on the Ageless Diet - but it's in a relatively small amount so it won't inflame you. It's also necessary to create that balance of flavors. And, if you want to skip the rice noodles use spaghetti squash instead.
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Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
55 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 tablespoons tamarind paste or concentrate
  2. 3/4 cup water (boiling)
  3. 5 tablespoons fish sauce
  4. 3 tablespoon rice vinegar
  5. 3 teaspoons palm or coconut sugar (or dark brown cane sugar)
  6. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  7. 1/4 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
  8. 1 pack or 16 ounces dried rice stick noodles, about 1/8 inch wide (the width of linguine)
  9. 1 pound or 16 ounces of organic extra firm tofu, baked or pan-fried
  10. 3 large eggs
  11. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  12. 6 ounces medium (wild-caught Gulf or Atlantic) shrimp (31/35 count), peeled and deveined
  13. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  14. 1 medium shallot, minced
  15. 2 small Thai bird red chiles, crushed or finely diced
  16. 5 tablespoons Thai salted preserved or pickled radish, chopped
  17. 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  18. 4 cups (mung) bean sprouts, rinsed and dried
  19. 5 medium scallions, green and white parts, sliced thin on sharp bias
  20. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, stems and leaves, chopped
  21. Lime wedges, for serving
Instructions
  1. Soak tamarind paste or concentrate in 3/4 cup boiling water for about 10 minutes. Stir fish sauce, rice vinegar, palm or coconut sugar, cayenne, and 2 tablespoons oil into tamarind liquid and set aside.
  2. Cover rice sticks with hot tap water in large bowl; soak until softened, pliable, and limp but not fully tender, about 20 minutes. Drain noodles and set aside. Beat eggs and 1/8 teaspoon salt in small bowl; set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet (preferably nonstick) over high heat until just beginning to smoke, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and sprinkle with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt; cook, tossing occasionally, until shrimp are opaque and browned about the edges, about 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp to plate and set aside. If you're frying the tofu in the skillet, do so now. Slice tofu into thin slabs, cook until each side is golden, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer tofu to a plate and set side. Or, bake the tofu for 45 minutes, marinating if first and then baking it. Crispy Baked Tofu (recipe on this site) can be done a day ahead, and it is an excellent addition to this dish. If you wish to skip the shrimp, this dish can be vegan, by using a fish sauce substitute, like kombu.
  4. Off heat, add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and swirl to coat; add garlic and shallot, set skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes; add eggs to skillet and stir vigorously with wooden spoon until scrambled and barely moist, about 20 seconds. Add noodles, and salted radish to eggs; toss with 2 wooden spoons to combine. Pour fish sauce mixture over noodles, add the peanut butter, and increase heat to high, and cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are evenly coated. Scatter the bean sprouts, all but 1/4 cup scallions, and cooked shrimp over noodles; continue to cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are tender, about 2 1/2 minutes (if not yet tender add 2 tablespoons water to skillet and continue to cook until tender).
  5. Transfer noodles to serving platter, sprinkle with remaining scallions and cilantro; serve immediately, topping each dish with 2-3 squares of crispy baked tofu or pan-fried tofu. Serve with a lime wedge.
Notes
  1. Though the prep for Pad Thai takes time, mostly because the ingredient list is quite long, the dish cooks very quickly. And the recipe is actually quite simple - just a series of steps, nothing tricky about any of them. Bake the tofu a few hours before and the dish is even better tasting and easier to make. Everything must be prepared and within easy reach at the stovetop once you begin the actual cooking. For maximum efficiency, use the time the noodles soak to prepare the other ingredients. Marinate and bake the tofu ahead of time and keep it warm in a toaster oven set to a low heat. Or pan fry the tofu with the shrimp, set aside and add back to the pan once everything is cooked. Tamarind, pickled/salted radish, rice noodles, fish sauce, and coconut or palm sugar are all relatively easy to find these days. Most small to mid-sized cities have Asian markets and most supermarkets now have aisles dedicated to Asian foodstuffs.
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Ageless Diet Life http://agelessdietlife.com/