I remember the first time I was exposed to pad thai. I was in college and my sister had just gotten back from a cruise with her girl scout troop. She had tried it on the ship and tried to replicate it at home. The result was… disappointing. I went several years before trying pad thai again and discovering I actually liked it. So I looked up the recipe again.
I don’t know where my sister got the recipe she tried, but I can understand why we were disappointed with the result. I didn’t see much of anything I recognized when I looked for a pad thai recipe. Some recipes found online have up to 20 ingredients! Now, I know some people get snobby about substitutions to recipes, like complaining that it isn’t “really” chicken marsala if you use a red wine that is actually edible instead of fortified marsala. But my motto in the kitchen, aside from if you can read, you can cook, is why use an expensive ingredient when a cheaper one is similar, and why use 5 ingredients when 3 will get the same result.
So I set out looking for an easier pad thai recipe. Something that didn’t call for fish sauce or tamarind. The last time I bought an ingredient specifically for a thai dish (green curry), it went bad long before I had a chance to use it a second time. So I started looking for pad thai recipes that only called for ingredients that I generally stock.
I started out with this recipe from Brownies for Dinner. It was a good start. But I’m fairly certain that pad thai is a peanut sauce. This didn’t taste anything like peanut, aside from the topping. Plus, as some of her other readers complained, the sauce was a bit dry for my taste. So I’ve adapted the recipe to overcome these shortcomings.
- 8 oz. dried, wide and flat rice noodles
- 4 TBSP brown sugar
- 2 TBSP lime juice, or juice from 1 lime
- ½ c. soy sauce
- 2 TBSP creamy peanut butter
- 1 chicken breast, diced
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 3 scallions (green onions), white and green parts, separated and thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 large eggs, light beaten
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
- Fill a large bowl with hot water and add rice noodles. Soak for 30 minutes and then drain. Noodles should feel slightly leathery like they are almost done cooking but not quite.
- In small bowl, combine brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and peanut butter. Whisk until all ingredients are combined. The peanut butter doesn’t completely dissolve, but will be thin strands instead. It will look like a black egg drop soup.
- Marinade chicken in ¼ c. of the pad thai sauce.
- In large skillet, head oil over medium low heat. Cook chicken until no longer pink and remove from pan. Add white part of scallions and garlic. Sautee until start to brown, about 30 seconds. Add eggs and lightly scramble. Add noodles, sauce , and chicken back to pan. Toss constantly to coat noodles until the are fully cooked, about 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and top with cilantro and peanuts.