This shrimp pad thai is seriously addictive and mouthwatering - we made it for dinner three times in one week. It takes 15 minutes to cook, and 30 minutes to get all of your ingredients together - making this the showstopper, stand-alone dinner for any weeknight. The flavors are a tangle of surprise - sometimes fiery and tangy from the tamarind pad thai sauce, and sometimes crunchy, bright, and sweet from the scallions, shrimp, and lime juice tossed noodles. If I could eat one meal for the rest of my life, this might be it.
*A quick note before you cook this recipe: Read through it fully, taking note of steps 1-3 in the method section. Pad thai is a street-food, made quickly by using pre-prepped ingredients set aside. I highly recommend preparing all of your ingredients before cooking the noodles. I've outlined everything you need to do in steps 1, 2, and 3 so that the cooking process in step 4 is as seamless, quick, and easy as possible.
*This recipe makes 2 servings. If you’re cooking for more servings, I recommend making the pad thai in batches (otherwise the ingredients may be too crowded in the wok to cook properly, and it may be more difficult to combine the noodles thoroughly).
Seriously Addictive Shrimp Pad Thai with Scallions
15 minute cook time; 30 minute prep time (includes soaking the noodles)
For the pad thai
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) sunflower or safflower oil, divided in half
4 ounces (113g) dried rice noodles (noodles should be 2 to 5 millimeters wide)*
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon shrimp paste in bean oil, optional*
2 tablespoons small dried shell-on shrimp, optional*
16 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 large eggs, lightly whisked in a bowl
4 scallions, green onions or garlic chives, just the green parts chopped into 1-inch length segments
2 cups bean sprouts, optional
1 lime, chopped into 4 wedges, for squeezing at the end
For the pad thai sauce
2 tablespoons tamarind paste (jarred variety works fine)*
2 tablespoons fish sauce*
3 tablespoons packed grated palm sugar (or 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar)*
1 teaspoon chili powder (more or less depending on spice preference)
*These ingredients can be found at most Asian grocery stores.
*I love making my own tamarind paste from a seedless block, but the jarred variety from the brand “Swad” works for this recipe. You can find it at Whole Foods or Patel Brothers for $3.99.
*I recommend the following brands of fish sauce if you are buying it for the first time: Red Boat Fish Sauce (the most expensive, but widely available at American grocery stores like Whole Foods), Three Crabs Fish Sauce, Squid Brand Fish Sauce, and Tiparos Brand Fish Sauce.
Red chili flakes
Crushed dry-roasted peanuts
Wok or frying pan
Microwave + microwaveable small bowl (or a small saucepan)
Tongs for cooking the noodles
1. Soak the noodles
Soak the noodles with room temperature water in a bowl until the noodles are pliable – about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain when you are ready to make the pad thai.
2. Make the pad thai sauce
Combine the tamarind paste, fish sauce, sugar, and chili powder in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, and then mix until the sugar dissolves. Taste, and adjust seasoning based on your preferences (if you want it spicier, add a bit more chili powder; if you want it sweeter, add a bit more sugar; more tart, add a bit more tamarind; more salty, add a bit more fish sauce).
Microwave alternative: In a small saucepan, bring the sauce ingredients to a simmer over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust seasoning (see above).
3. Mise en place
Prepare the rest of your ingredients before you start cooking. This will speed up your cooking time, and help prevent the noodles from over-cooking or burning. Once you've prepared these ingredients, set them aside until needed for cooking:
Measure and divide the oil (2 tablespoons in the wok, and 2 tablespoons set aside).
Peel and chop the garlic.
Measure the shrimp paste and dried shrimp, if using.
Clean and devein the shrimp.
Lightly whisk 2 eggs in a bowl.
Chop the green parts of the scallions, chop the lime into 4 wedges, measure the bean sprouts, and crush the peanuts, if using.
4. Make the pad thai
Strain the noodles. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large wok over high heat. Add the noodles to the hot oil, and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly.
Add all of the pad thai sauce to the noodles, and cook for another minute, stirring to fully combine the noodles with the sauce.
Push all of the noodles to one side of the wok, and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the empty side of the wok.
To the oil, add the garlic, shrimp paste, and dried shrimp (if using). Cook for about a minute (with the noodles still on one side).
Add the raw shrimp to the garlic oil, and cook for a minute. Combine the noodles with the shrimp, and cook everything over high heat for another minute.
Pushing all the noodles to the sides, make a gap (about 3-4 inches wide) in the center of the noodles. Add the whisked eggs to the gap. Let the eggs set and cook briefly (about a minute) before scrambling the eggs with your tongs and mixing it into the noodles. At this point, the shrimp and noodles should be fully cooked (if not, continue to cook for a minute more over high heat, stirring constantly).
Add the scallions and bean sprouts to the noodles, and remove wok from heat. The scallions should begin to wilt from the residual heat. Mix well to combine.
Let rest for a couple of minutes before squeezing 2 lime wedges over it. Serve warm with remaining lime wedges, crushed peanuts, red pepper flakes, extra scallions and bean sprouts.
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