If I could go back to Thailand for a day I’d be back on Koh Tao. It’s a diver’s paradise, easy-going, friendly, tropical and the food is amazing.
For a tiny island it has more restaurants than you can shake a palm frond at. I loved the days walking out of our cheap and basic beach hut out onto the beach, listen to the crazy loud Cicada beetles wake up then go for pancakes. I’d get in a couple of dives, out to beautiful Chumphon pinnacle or spot a turtle closer to the shore then return back and despite all the food choices, the variety of Thai and Italian and fusion foods, I generally had a standard Pad Thai.
Pad Thai (or phat thai really) is probably the best known Thai dish in the Western world, quickly followed by the Thai Red and Green Curries which are increasingly finding their way into supermarket ready meals and takeaways for their moreish coconutty yet firey flavours.
However supposedly Pad Thai is neither particularly Thai or traditional with the full name translated to”stir-fried rice noodles, Thai-style” which is never amazingly promising for authenticity. Either way its cracking; salty, sweet and tasty – give this a go!
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 heaped tsp brown or palm sugar
- 1 tsp tamarind concentrate or a little more if it’s a sauce
- 1 large chopped clove or garlic
- Vegetable oil
- 2 portions of rice noodles (preferably flat, wide rice noodles)
- small handful beansprouts
- 1 large chicken breast (or 2 small) thinly sliced
- 1/2 large yellow pepper, finely sliced
- 1 red chilli, finely sliced, seeds removed
- small handful of coriander, torn up
- 2 or 3 spring onions, sliced in long diagonals
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- 1 egg
- sprinkle of salted peanuts
- Lime wedge
First up make the classic pad thai sauce by heating a small wok or saucepan over a medium heat with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Add the garlic for 10 seconds then the fish sauce, sugar, tamarind and chilli. Adjust to your taste by adding more chilli, sugar or soy for saltiness then leave aside once the sugar is well-dissolved.
Meanwhile boil your flat rice noodles (or whatever you have really) until just before al dente as they will continue to cook once added into the sauce later on. Many recipes tell you to cut the draining noodle ball once through with a knife as this will make them easier to eat but it’s all personal preference.
Final step is the assembly in your largest wok over a high heat. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil cook your meat until just cooked, then transfer into a bowl for later. Reheat the pan and throw in the garlic, pepper and red onions for only a minute then add noodles and stir for another minute. Quickly throw in the pre-made Pad Thai sauce and stir well before adding the meat back in for a few more minutes. Once everything is hot, shift all the noodles etc. to once side of the pan, away from the heat and allow the rest of the pan to get super hot. Crack the egg into the hottest park and swirl around the pan to get a very thin coating, then stir into the noodles once crispy.
Turn down the heat and quickly add your beansprouts and spring onions for a minute more then turn off the heat. Sprinkle the pan or each dish with the torn coriander, a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of peanuts for a taste of Thailand.