Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Bookmark Project: Pad Thai at Last

Once in a while, I come upon a food blog post that I immediately recognize as a precious gift from the blogger to us readers. Pim's Pad Thai for beginners was one such post. It contains a level of knowledge and detail that I wanted to learn from, and I bookmarked it, of course. Two years have gone by, and thanks to my ongoing bookmark project, I finally took the time to read the post thoroughly (twice!!) and learn how to make good Pad Thai. She describes the procedure as a "quick footloose dance in an ultra hot wok" and it was definitely one of the most rewarding recipes I have tried in recent months.

This is yet another case of restaurant envy. Pad Thai is a classic Thai dish of noodles, tofu, scrambled egg and bean sprouts in a sassy sauce, topped with crunchy bits of peanuts. I like it. V worships it. We've spent many evenings comparing the Pad Thai in local restaurants. Making it at home was the next logical step.

After reading Pim's post carefully, I found that I had some of the ingredients in my pantry already. Tofu, tamarind, garlic, green onions are already staples in my kitchen. I did have to plan ahead and go to the international store to stock up on some of the other ingredients though- the long mung bean sprouts, discs of palm sugar, pickled radish and dried rice noodles. I found these easily enough. I highly recommend reading her post carefully to learn some important tips and techniques in the making of this dish in an authentic way. The following recipe simply tells you the way I made Pad Thai on Sunday night.

Pad Thai


Adapted from Pim's incredible recipe, makes 4 servings

Note: One of Pim's tips is that you need to make only 1-2 servings of Pad Thai at a time in the wok in order to have enough room to maneuver. I prepared the ingredients for 4 servings, then made the dish twice, 2 servings at a time, rinsing and drying the wok in between.

1. Make the Pad Thai sauce by simmering the following in a small saucepan with water as required. You need about 1 cup of sauce (or a bit more) in all. The proportions of the components are entirely to taste.
-Tamarind pulp
-Soy sauce
-Vegetarian oyster sauce
-Palm sugar
-Red chilli paste

2. Keep the following ingredients ready and prepped in bowls
-Extra-firm tofu, sliced
-Mung bean sprouts
-Dried rice noodles, soaked in warm water until soft, then drained
-Pickled radish, chopped
-Sliced green onions (green parts only)
-Roasted peanuts, chopped coarsely
-2 Eggs

3. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a wok to smoking point. Add the tofu slices and fry for 5-6 minutes until they are golden brown.

4. Add noodles and sauce, stir, stir, stir, until the noodles are cooked through.

5. Add bean sprouts and pickled radish, stir well.

6. Push contents of wok to one side. Drizzle a little oil and crack an egg on the wok surface. Cook the egg well, then mix in with the noodles and the rest.

7. Add green onions and peanuts and serve immediately.

1. The ingredients need to be dry or they will splatter wickedly in the hot wok. So, drain the rice noodles thoroughly after soaking and remove as much extra water as possible from the tofu.
2. If the palm sugar discs are too hard to cut, microwave them for 10-15 seconds to soften them. Handle them carefully while they are hot. Cool the remainder of the sugar lump thoroughly before storing it.

I paused only for a second to click a quick picture of the Pad Thai still in the wok, then sat down to an incredible meal. Next step: to make bean sprouts at home. I sprout beans and lentils all the time for Indian dishes and making these long mung bean sprouts should not be too hard. Have you ever made these bean sprouts at home?

I'm sending this tasty dish of noodles to Presto Pasta Night hosted this week at Very Culinary.

Tomorrow morning, I plan to bake something sticky and sweet. If it works out, I'll come back and tell you about it!


  1. This is a welcome post. My thai curries do well but any thai noodle dish I find extra hard. What brand of rice noodles did you use? Mine always becomes sticky...

  2. Wow i love this looks so yumm and perfect looking ... feel like grabbing it I love pad thai

  3. Yumm.. yumm. looks delicious. Pad Thai is so mucheasy to make when you have everything ready. I've trouble finding pad thai noodles, which brand do you buy?

  4. That was inspiring. Never tried pad thai at home either. I am bookmarking this :)

  5. Pim's recipe is a treasure, the level detail in it cannot be beaten by any other. I made this once at home when I read her post, need to get back to it :) Your bookmark series might be reducing the size of your folder, but its only increasing mine. Not fair! :)

  6. Pim's recipe is awesome, I love her detailed instructions. Sticky and sweet? Hmm, Thai rice pudding in coconut milk?


  7. I've always wanted to try making pad thai at home. This sounds like a fabulous recipe to start with!

  8. Nupur, those beans are sprouted commercially and it's hard to get long sprouts without sprouters that drain from the bottom. Mine start rotting once they grow beyond a certain point even if I rinse and drain. Check this site for instructions on how to grow long sprouts.

  9. He he, i am one of those souls who loves Pad Thai and compares it between different restaurants! But nothing like homemade stuff! I have always omitted Oyster sauce, where did you get the vegetarian equivalent from

  10. Can I say you are an inspiration?

  11. Beautiful!!! :) I make Pim's recipe for Pad Thai too! It's really good, isn't it? Like musical said, I like homemade pad thai better than the restaurant ones.

    About the easy meduvada with hole, apparently my friend got her tips from this video on yoututbe - and I wrote down the instructions for shyam at

  12. You are on a roll Nupur!!..I have seen Pim's pad thai and have been thinking to make it too...I am loving your bookmark series. I think i should plan a trip to St Louis before the end of your bookmark project :)

  13. btw. i agree with manisha...the sprouts start to rot really soon...after they sprout beyond a point. I have tried a few times, only to throw the sprouts away :(

  14. I tried phad thai some time back and it was a flop show...but am surely going to try this recipe.Are u making sticky toffee pudding tomorrow?

  15. Now I'm inspired to make this -- I, too, bookmarked this recipe when I first saw it, but I've never made it. Thanks for the gentle nudge.

  16. yum yum this!!

  17. Beautiful. I agree with the cooking a little bit routine... that's one big reason why my noodles are not like the Cheinees gaadiwala... :)

    I have bookmarked your summer time spring rolls for about 2 years... I wonder when I shall get around to making them!

  18. I really want to thank you for being such an inspiration.I make my teenage daughter go thru your blog and hope some of your enthusiasm rubs on her!!Don't you think there is a similarity between marathi and Thai cuisine both have ample of peanuts,coconut,chilli,garlic & Ginger

  19. Lovely..I tried a pad thai once and it was really nice...I used store-bought long sprouts, tried making it at home, but never turned out that long...

  20. stringOfPearls- I used CTF brand rice sticks (bahn pho). The stickiness could be corrected by adding more oil (these dishes in restaurants are made with tons of oil) and making sure that you only have 1-2 servings of noodles in the wok at one time.

    Pavithra- we love it too :)

    Pavani- I bought the first brand that caught my eye at the International store and it happened to be CTF (Combine Thai Foods) brand rice sticks/bahn pho. They were not labeled specifically as pad thai noodles though.

    Gini- If you like to eat it at restaurants, it is fun (and very easy) to make at home :)

    Priya- Oh don't you worry, the size of my bookmarks is destined to never decrease, right now it is at equilibrium which is the most I can hope for :)

    SJ- We both have to thank Pim!

    Mamatha- Sorry, your guess is wrong :D but Thai rice pudding sounds delicious, must try it sometime.

    Lisa- It is definitely the perfect recipe to start with, you'll be rewarded with tasty results!

    Manisha- Thanks for the link, and for the heads up! It is not as easy as I imagined, huh? Good to know!

    Musical- I spotted a bottle of Wan Ja Shan Vegetarian Mushroom Oyster Sauce in the International store (among all the other Asian sauces) and piked it up on a whim, but have been using it a lot. It gets the umami flavor from mushrooms instead of oysters. This stuff is also sold online (Amazon).

    A_and_N- That's a very nice thing to say, we all inspire each other, right?

    Kay- Thank you so much for the detailed tips, I appreciate that very much!!

    SJ- Thank you :)

    Rajitha- I've been very lucky, catching the bookmarks which are giving me incredible results!! Come over any time, there's always good eatin' here :)
    Good to know about the sprouts, I might stick to the store bought ones.

    Roshni- No, not sticky toffee pudding, but that's a great guess :)

    Lydia- It is totally worth a try, now I'm kicking myself for not trying it sooner ;)

    aquadaze- we love it too!

    Soma- it tasted fantastic too!

    Raaga- Ooh, I have still not made those spring rolls this summer, must get around to it soon!

    Anonymous- Thank you for the kind words, and yes, that must be why I love Thai food so much because of the similar ingredients.
    As a former teenager, I feel that it is my duty to point out that "making your teenager daughter" do something is the VERY best way to make her resent it and not want to do it! I love cooking precisely because my parents never ever goaded me into it, but they simply loved good food and cooking and that's what rubbed off on me. Please don't punish your kid by making her read my blog :)

    Arch- I'll stick to store-bought sprouts, based on what the comments say!

  21. Lovely! I made this for dinner last night - added a ton of shredded cabbage and some broccoli - and it was super yummy and easy! I am a bit suspicious of those long mung sprouts - I feel they have been chemically enhanced to come out looking like that. I might be wrong, though.

  22. The best thing about your blog is that you come up with such a wide variety of dishes, and Pad Thai is among my top favourites. I am definitely going to try this. I can make a mean red curry but fail when it comes to pad thai. It turns out to be a lumpy mess.
    Are you planning on making sticky black rice? If so, do let us know.

  23. I am craving for pad thai from last Saturday. Have to make some soon. Lovely post Nupur.

  24. It is ages since I had pad thai - I love it but only have it out as never get organised to have it at home - thanks for the reminder and for the great easy recipe

  25. Pad Thai is definitely one of my restaurant envy dishes as well. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  26. This looks really good Nupur - would you believe I've never had Pad Thai? Actually, until I saw this post I didn't even know what was in Pad Thai! Good luck with your sprouting experiment! (I'm guessing it would take a little while to get them the right size?)

  27. Kamini- You made it already?? The addition of cabbage and broccoli sounds delicious!
    I seriously don't think there is anything wrong with the long mung bean sprouts, they have just been allowed to grow much longer than we in India are used to, I think.

    Namita- The lumpy mess might be avoided by being a bit generous with the oil, and by adding only amounts of noodles to the wok at one time.
    Sticky black rice- no, I don't think I have even tasted that, actually. Is it good :) ??

    Shilpa- You'll find it pretty simple to make at home, just visit the local Asian store for ingredients. Or come visit me and I'll make you some :)

    Johanna- I know, it takes some planning to gather all the ingredients :)

    Joanne- I hope you get a chance to try it :)

    Cathy- Pad Thai is a staple in Thai restaurants- do you happen to have one in your town? It really is such a great mix of flavors, I think you will enjoy it.
    I think I'm going to keep buying the sprouts- people are telling me they are difficult to make at home :)

  28. Sprouting mung beans seems easier to me than some of the other varieties -- I think because they don't dry out too fast. The trick I've found is to keep them moist without letting them be too wet -- but if you've sprouted other beans than you've figured this part out.

    I love your recipes because you demystify some of the restaurant dishes that seem so impossible to recreate authentically. I still love making the korma (though I may need another demonstration lesson -- my last batch wasn't quite "right"). Thanks for this post -- and thanks to Pim, too.

  29. This is so on my to do list. Nice job!

  30. Becky- You've made mung bean sprouts at home, eh? I must get a primer from you!
    Come on over for a demo on korma any time :)

    Hillary- It is a very rewarding dish to make!

  31. Looks yummy!

    Thanks for thinking of me for the Julie/Julia thing. My email is joyweesemoll and I use yahoo. I might be able to join the group for a movie, depending on the time, so I'd love to be updated.

  32. I love thai food. Tried this one, it came out good....!! thanks for sharing it.


Thanks for leaving a comment- I try to respond to every single one.