There are certain recipes I’ve spent years trying to make just…right: The perfect Bolognese (I’m about 95% of the way there), a flawless souffle (Thanks to Jerry Traunfeld, I’ve got that one down) and Pad Thai. I’ve made good Pad Thai. I’ve even made what I think is great Pad Thai. This is the recipe I think makes flawless Pad Thai. I tested it last week for David, and made it again for friends this weekend. It. Is. AWESOME. Seriously, I think it is as good as the best Pad Thai I’ve had in any restaurant or even in Thailand.
The author of this book, is Thailand’s tv food celebrity. Born into the royal family, Chef McDang has cookbooks, tv shows, and lucrative consulting gigs for Thai food companies. His cookbook is broken out into basic Thai ingredients and dives deep into the spice pastes that form the core of Thai cooking. He discusses the regional differences and how they affect food, and then provides recipes to demonstrate the basic cooking techniques of boiling, grilling, salads, dips, stir-frying, deep-frying, steaming, curries and (my bane) desserts. In addition to the Pad Thai recipe, I’ve also made his Pad Grapao Nuea (Stir-Fried ground beef with chili, garlic and Thai holy basil) and it came out perfect. Again, as good as anything I’ve had in a restaurant or during my visits to Thailand.
A couple of notes on sourcing the ingredients: You need to have a good Asian grocery near you, or you will need to buy some of the more esoteric items (pickled turnip, pickled garlic, Thai chile sauce—not the sweet one) from internet sources. In Seattle, I found everything at Uwajimaya with the exception of the sweet pickled turnip, which I bought at Viet Wah. The base sauce recipe starts at about 6 quarts, and you reduce it down by half—it makes enough to last a while. The reduction took me a couple of hours, but then actually making the Pad Thai was an exercise of about 10 minutes. It’s well worth that initial time investment. You can use any protein in place of the shrimp. Because this was made as part of an asian meal already including a different shrimp preparation, I seared scallops instead.
If you’ve ever wanted to make Pad Thai, give this recipe a go. You won’t be disappointed. The measurements are metric, as this book was originally published in Thailand. Although a US Version has not been released, I found mine on Amazon.
Pad Thai Goong Sod
Adapted from The Principles of Thai Cookery, by Chef McDang
60ml vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
250g prawns, peeled and cleaned (or other protein)
150g white bean curd, diced small
80g sweet pickled Chinese turnip (daikon), finely chopped
30g dried shrimp
300g dry Thai rice stick noodles (Chantaburi), soaked in cold water until strands are white, drained
230ml Pad Thai sauce (Recipe below)
150g bean sprouts
70g chives, cut into 1 ½ inch lengths
50g unsalted, toasted peanuts, chopped
Chili powder (for garnish), as required
4 lime wedges (for garnish)
- In a wok, heat 2 Tbsp of the oil over moderate heat. Add garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add prawns and stir-fry until pink but not cooked. Immediately take out of the wok and reserve.
- In the same wok, add a little more oil, then add white bean curd and dried shrimp. Stir-fry until bean curd browns.
- Add the noodles and stir-fry to soften. Add Pad Thai sauce, a little at a time. Stir-fry to mix quickly. The noodles will soften further and absorb the flavors of the sauce. Taste.
- If the flavors are not intense enough, add a little more sauce and allow it to seep into the noodles. Add the pickled Chinese turnip and more dried shrimp. Stir-fry to incorporate these ingredients.
- Move the noodles to once side of the wok. Add the cooked shrimp and a little oil to the bottom of the wok. Raise the temperature and crack the eggs into the bottom of the pan.
- Cover the eggs with the noodles. Reduce the heat a little and allow the eggs to cook.
- Toss all the noodles together to spread the eggs. Mix in the bean sprouts, the chopped Chinese chives, and peanuts.
- Serve the Pad Thai, garnished with fresh bean sprouts, Chinese chives, banana blossom and a lime wedge. If you like peanuts, add a few more to the side of the plate.
Pad Thai Sauce
300g pickled garlic
100g fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
170g fresh Thai chile peppers
3 cups chili sauce (I used the Taste of Thai brand, but any chili sauce will work)
1 cup pickled garlic juice
1 kg palm sugar
375ml distilled vinegar
3 cups tamarind juice
3 Tbsp salt
½ cup fish sauce
3 liters water
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to the saucepan, stir to mix well and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simer in order to allow the sauce to evaporate and thicken. Once the liquid is reduced almost by half and tastes sweet, sour and slightly salty, allow it to cool. Once cooled, transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate ready for use when making Pad Thai.
Sauce will be enough for 12-15 servings.