This recipe is lifted straight from Epicurious, and it has become a staple in my house. I only make one, blasphemous change – and I know I will get in trouble for this, so I have prepared myself for the chiding.
I don’t like tamarind.
“What?!” you say, “How can you like Pad Thai and not like tamarind?? Pad Thai IS tamarind”
Well, I don’t like it and, on top of that, it makes my tummy hurt. For years I thought I didn’t like pad thai at all, which confused me because on paper it seemed like the perfect dish. Then I realized it was the cursed tamarind that didn’t agree with me, so I tried something different. Instead of using the tamarind water mixture that this recipe calls for, I simply used a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice mixed with the water. I’ve heard there are many other, perhaps more delicious, substitutes for the tamarind – but since this recipe is supposed to be quick and easy I decided to stick with the lemon juice.
- 12 ounces dried flat rice noodles (1/4 inch wide; sometimes called pad Thai or banh pho)
- 3 tbsp tamarind (from a pliable block)
- 1 cup boiling-hot water
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tbsp Sriracha
- 1 bunch scallions
- 4 large shallots
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) package firm tofu
- 1 1/2 cups peanut or vegetable oil (I used way less than this)
- 6 large eggs
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Soak noodles in a large bowl of warm water until softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain well in a colander and cover with a dampened paper towel.
Meanwhile, make sauce by soaking tamarind pulp in boiling-hot water in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Force mixture through a sieve into a bowl, discarding seeds and fibers. (Or, just add fresh lemon juice to one cup boiling water) Add soy sauce, brown sugar, and Sriracha, stirring until sugar has dissolved and then set aside.
Cut scallions into 2-inch pieces.
Cut shallots crosswise into very thin slices.
Rinse tofu, then cut into 1-inch cubes and pat very dry. This is important for the frying process. Add tofu to hot pan and fry, with oil, in 1 layer, gently turning occasionally, until golden – about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer tofu to paper towels using a slotted spoon.
Lightly beat eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok over high heat until it shimmers. Add eggs and swirl to coat side of wok, then cook, stirring gently with a spatula, until cooked through. Break into chunks with spatula and transfer to a plate.
Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly. Pour in 6 tablespoons oil, and then swirl to coat side of wok. Stir-fry shallots, scallions, and garlic until softened, about 1 minute.
Add noodles and stir-fry over medium heat for 3 minutes (use 2 spatulas if necessary, it does get quite tricky to maneuver). Add tofu, bean sprouts, and your sauce and simmer, turning noodles over to absorb sauce evenly, until noodles are tender, about 2 minutes.
Stir in eggs and transfer to a large serving dish.
Sprinkle pad Thai with peanuts and serve with lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, and Sriracha.