My friends and I go out and eat a lot of thai food. I really like thai food, whether it’s curries, some rice dish, or a fan favorite: pad thai. Pad thai is surprisingly easy to make despite the apparent complexity pad thai bears. It has so many textures and components, the dish can seem pretty daunting. But it’s actually surprisingly simple.
Of course, it’s only simple because you can buy pre-packaged pad thai sauce. I guess if I wanted to make this from scratch, things would be a tad more complicated. But they do sell these in stores (typically in your Asian food section) and it works pretty well. I don’t typically have problems with pre-made sauces (unless they’re pasta sauces or any kind of enchilada sauce, they’re just not right to me).
As for the noodle. I was using some leftover pho noodles we had in our pantry. Why? 1) I didn’t want to have to buy pad thai noodles if I already had something I could use. And 2) It’s towards the end of the year so it’s time to play my favorite game, what-can-I-make-with-the-random-stuff-in-the-pantry-so-we-don’t-have-to-throw-out-a-bunch-of-food-at-the-end-of-the-year. It’s like Chopped every day for me right now.
So the base of the pad thai, well my pad thai, is onion and carrots that are pretty thinly sliced. I don’t think carrot is a classically pad thai component unless it’s used for a garnish, but I wanted a little bit of carrot in there. It adds some nice color and since I didn’t find any beansprouts in my grocery store (because they ran out for some reason) I decided to add in a different vegetable instead.
The only other “vegetables” included in the pad thai are some sliced mushrooms and garlic. Remember to wash your mushrooms. This isn’t like the classic washing of the vegetables. If you run mushrooms under water, they will end up super rubbery when you cook them. Gross. Instead, you have to wipe the mushrooms one-by-one with a damp paper towel.
As for the meat, pad thai is traditionally made with two different meats: chicken and shrimp. You would think it would be a weird combination, but it works quiet well. The chicken I just cubed up, nothing special. And the shrimp, after I peeled and deveined it, I mixed in some ginger, coriander, and turmeric. I feel like shrimp needs a little more love than chicken does. The chicken will soak up flavor better than the shellfish.
Now it’s time for cooking. I started with the carrots and the onions. I heated up a mixture of olive oil and sesame oil and threw the onions and carrots into the skillet. I didn’t salt them but I did add in some pepper to season them. Cook these until they’re nice and caramelized. Then I threw them into a bowl and set them aside for later use.
In the same skillet without adding any more oil, I started cooking the chicken.
After a couple minuted in the pan, I added in the mushrooms, garlic, and shrimp. Shrimp does not take long to cook and if you overcook shrimp, they get really weird and rubbery. Which is why you add them in with the mushrooms. Like shrimp, mushrooms don’t have a long cook time because they’re soft.
I didn’t let them cook like this for long. After about a minute or so, I added in the liquid that I wanted all of this to absorb. So I poured in some soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, and sugar. I brought this to a boil and then covered it for a couple minutes to have everything cooked through properly, and then we’re almost done.
While all of this was cooking, I boiled the “pad thai” noodles according to the package directions. In the pot I cooked the noodles, I combined the onions and carrots, noodles, and this meat mixture. I put a lid on this so the noodles might soak up some of the extra liquid and so it stays warm while I make the last component: the eggs.
I didn’t photograph the eggs because I’ve been over how I typically cook eggs in other posts. So I was being lazy. Sue me. So in a bowl I combined my eggs, some milk, and Siracha. It’s such a small amount of milk that I would still consider this pretty dairy free. Obviously if it’s a concern, just leave the milk out entirely. I like it because I can get fluffier eggs, but it’s not a necessity. Then I just cooked my eggs in the same skillet that I’ve been using for everything else. Trying to cut down on dishes here.
Chop up your eggs and throw it in with the rest of your pad thai. Then add in the pad thai sauce. Mix it up well and it’s ready to serve. I topped the pad thai with a little bit of cilantro, green onions, and, of course, peanuts. The peanuts can be left out if you really don’t like them but I would not suggest skimping on the green onion and cilantro. The cilantro, probably since it’s my favorite herb, adds a nice freshness to the dish and the green onions will give the dish as a whole a little more texture.
Now this was made to be pretty mild. So if you need more spice, feel free to add more Siracha. I know I did.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs sesame oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1 lb shrimp
- 1 lb chicken, cubed
- 8 oz pad thai sauce
- 4 eggs
- 3 tbs milk
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp water
- 1 tbs ginger
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbs coriander
- 1 tsp Siracha
- ½ cup chopped peanuts
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- 2 green onions, sliced
- Cook pad thai noodles to package directions
- Clean shrimp and mix in ginger, coriander, and turmeric
- Heat olive oil and sesame oil in a skillet over medium heat
- Add onion and carrot and saute until carrots soften, 10-15 minutes
- Remove vegetables from the pan
- Add chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes
- Add shrimp, garlic, and mushrooms
- Pour in water, rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce, bring to a boil
- Cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the shrimp is pink and cooked through
- Whisk together milk, eggs, and Siracha
- In a separate pan, cook eggs
- Add to skillet containing chicken and shrimp
- Combine the contents of the skillet, the onion and carrot mixture, and the pad thai noodles in a bowl
- Add in pad thai sauce and stir to coat
- Top with cilantro, green onion, and peanuts
Chef’s note: Because I couldn’t find any beansprouts, I didn’t include them in my recipe. I would highly recommend them because they’re pretty classically in pad thai. If you want to add in beansprouts, cook half of them when you add in the mushrooms and then mix in the other half at the end to have some beansprouts with more texture.