Perfect Pad Thai

Sometimes I hesitate to use the term "Pad Thai" when my version isn't 100% authentic. It's pretty close, but, for example, I don't add banana flowers, Chinese chives, preserved turnips, and dried shrimp. Feel free to add those things if you have them handy. :-)

There are many variations of Pad Thai, and mine is just one of them. One thing I can assure you - it's downright incredible. In Thailand, condiments such as fish sauce, lime, chili pepper/hot sauce, sugar, and vinegar are often served at the table so folks can adjust the seasoning. The trick is to get the right balance of sweet, salty and sour.

Perfect Pad Thai with Chicken

8 ounces rice stick noodles
2 tablespoons peanut oil
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup bean sprouts
3 tablespoons tamarind paste or white vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
Lime wedges for garnish
Green onions for garnish

Soak the noodles in lukewarm or room temperature water until soft, about 10 minutes (you want the noodles soft, not mushy, and they will cook more in the pan).
Meanwhile, heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add the eggs to the hot pan and cook in one even, flat layer until almost cooked through to the surface (tilt the pan to make an even egg layer). Flip and cook 15 seconds, until the egg is cooked through. Remove the egg from the pan and set aside. When cool enough to handle, cut the egg into thin strips.
Add the shallots and garlic to the hot pan and cook 1 minute. Drain the noodles and add to the pan with the bean sprouts.
Whisk together the tamarind paste, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, and hot sauce and add the mixture to the pan with the chicken. Cook 1 to 2 minutes to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in the egg and peanuts.  
Serve with lime wedges and green onions on the side.

Serves 4

Photo: rakratchada torsap