Easy and Irresistible Pad Thai

This recipe is as good as any Pad Thai I've eaten at a restaurant, and what's better is that it comes together so easily! If I had to choose which component of Pad Thai is my favorite, I would be hard-pressed to choose just one thing! I love everything about this popular dish, from the rice noodles to the crunch of the carrots and chopped peanuts, plus the egg and the sauce that brings it together...sigh, I could go on and on about my love for Pad Thai.  
I made this recipe with the addition of chicken, but Pad Thai is great just with scrambled egg or any other protein of your choice.

When we were driving home from our beach vacation last week, I got the most intense craving for Pad Thai and we made a half-hearted attempt to find a nearby restaurant that served it; ultimately, most places were either closed or too far out of our way and I resigned myself to waiting until we got home, where I could make my own.
This has always been the one dish I assumed I could never make well at home and would forever depend on finding the next best hole-in-the-wall take-out place to satisfy my (unhealthy) craving for Pad Thai. It's never stopped me from trying, but something always fell short --mainly, my ability to turn out perfectly cooked rice noodles.  Does that happen to anyone else?  Even with following cooking instructions, my noodles always came out sticking together or too al dente or too mushy.  I needed something "just right".

Finally, it happened.  On this most recent attempt, I kept an eagle eye on those boiling noodles for EXACTLY 6 minutes -- no more, no less -- and rinsed them under cold water; but instead of letting them sit in a bowl like most boxed instructions say to do, I tossed the noodles with a few tablespoons of sesame oil thoroughly and obsessively made sure each and every noodle got coated and separated before setting it aside.  I really think this step made all the difference, because what resulted and pleasantly surprised me was a plate of Pad Thai that made me feel like I just ordered take-out from my favorite restaurant.  In FACT, even my daughter -- a professed Pad Thai Hater -- took a bite, then asked for a full serving.  Success!

So, here it is -- accessible and easy Pad Thai!

serves 4-6

  • 1 box (14 oz) of Pad Thai or rice noodles
  • 5 tablespoons sesame oil, divided; 2 tbsp to toss noodles with, 3 for the onion and garlic
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided; 1 tbsp for eggs, 1 tbsp for chicken thighs
  • 1/3 cup corn starch for chicken thighs
  • 4 eggs, scrambled
  • 1 lb. chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces (shrimp, chicken breast, tofu or beef also go well)
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup mung beans (optional, and I also found that I prefer canned vs. fresh...but that's me!)
  • Around 1 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 lime, cut into slices for garnish
  •  3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce (or more, if fish sauce is your thing. I like it on the lighter side)
  • 3 tablespoons Tamari sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  1. Cook rice noodles according to box instructions; immediately drain and rinse under cold water and toss with 2 tablespoons sesame oil until well coated. Set aside.
  2. While I wait for the water to boil and the noodles to cook, I like to quickly scramble the eggs.  I try to make sure I don't stir too much and cook them as if I'm making an omelet.  This way, you can retain larger pieces of egg that don't get lost when you toss them in later with the noodles.
  3. After making the noodles and scrambled eggs, toss the bite-sized chicken thighs with 1/3 cup of corn starch in a medium sized bowl.  Heat a large skillet with 1 tbsp of veg oil over medium high heat and put the chicken pieces in an even layer in the pan.  Cook each side for 3-5 minutes or until browned and crispy.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. In either the same large pan or a large wok, heat 3 tbsp of sesame oil over medium heat and add the onions, garlic and scallions. Stir for 1-2 minutes or until onion is soft.
  5. Add the sauce ingredients and stir for a minute or two.  Add the noodles and toss until evenly coated.
  6. Add the egg and chicken back in; add the carrots, mung beans (if using) and 1/2 cup of chopped peanuts.  Toss everything until well mixed.  I like to use tongs to mix so I don't mush the noodles too much. Serve with chopped peanuts and lime wedges (and if you like extra spice like me, sprinkle extra red pepper flakes on top). Enjoy!


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