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Easy Pad Thai with Shrimp Recipe

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Pad Thai is one of the most popular Thai dishes, a stir-fried rice noodle dish loaded with savory flavors. This pad thai recipe with shrimp is the authentic way to make this classic street food at home.

With a sweet-tangy-salty sauce coating chewy rice noodles, plump shrimp, scrambled eggs, peanuts, and fresh bean sprouts, every bite of this pad thai is complex and delicious. Once you get the sauce right, you’ll be hooked on this addictive dish!

An Overview of Pad Thai

Pad thai originated in Thailand as a quick and easy street food dish. It likely became popular in the early 20th century, though its origins are uncertain.

Pad thai is made from rice noodles stir-fried with eggs, fish sauce, tamarind, and palm sugar, giving it a sweet, sour, and salty flavor. Shrimp, chicken, or tofu are commonly added as proteins. The dish is often served with peanuts, lime, and fresh herbs like cilantro.

Pad thai is beloved for its balanced flavors and mix of textures. The soft rice noodles, tender protein, crunchy peanuts, and fresh veggies come together in perfect harmony.

While it may look complex, it’s surprisingly easy to make at home. With the right ingredients and technique, you can make restaurant-quality pad thai!

Tips for Making the Best Pad Thai

Making excellent pad thai is all about getting the sauce right. Here are some tips:

  • Use true tamarind pulp or concentrate for authentic flavor. Don’t use too much, or it will be overly sour.
  • Palm sugar is key for sweetness and should be combined with brown sugar. You can substitute regular sugar.
  • The perfect pad thai sauce coats the noodles but isn’t soggy. Add more or less liquid to get the right consistency.
  • Don’t skip the fish sauce! A bit of this salty, umami flavor really brings out the flavors.
  • Fry the aromatics like garlic and chili in oil before adding the sauce ingredients to bloom their flavors.
  • Cook the noodles just until tender, then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. This prevents overcooked, mushy noodles.
  • Let the noodles soak up the sauce instead of pouring a lot of sauce over them. Fry them just until they’re evenly coated.
  • Don’t overfill the pan. Use a large wok or skillet so you can properly stir-fry the noodles.
  • Add protein and toppings just before removing from heat so they warm through without overcooking.

 

Easy Pad Thai with Shrimp Recipe

Benefits Of This Pad Thai with Shrimp Recipe

  • It’s a healthier takeout alternative: By making pad thai at home, you can control the ingredients and include more vegetables. It skips the extra oils or sugars found in takeout versions.
  • Packed with flavor: The combination of savory, sweet, salty, and sour flavors makes pad thai incredibly tasty and satisfying. The sauce ingredients, like tamarind, fish sauce, and brown sugar, create tons of flavor.
  • Provides balanced nutrition: With rice noodles as the base, plus shrimp, eggs, peanuts, sprouts, and herbs, this pad thai offers protein, healthy fats, complex carbs, and vitamins.
  • Fast and easy to make: whipping up pad thai is quicker than ordering takeout. Thanks to convenient ingredients and a simple stir-frying method, you can have dinner ready in under 30 minutes.
  • Very customizable: Pad thai is endlessly adaptable to your tastes. Swap the protein, add your favorite veggies, adjust the spice level, or garnish with different herbs.
  • Kid-friendly option: The mild flavors and rice noodles appeal to kids’ palates. Adding a protein like shrimp makes it a complete meal that they’ll devour.
  • Great for meal prepping: the noodles and sauce ingredients make pad thai easy to prepare in batches. Store components separately and assemble them for quick meals throughout the week.
  • Perfect for busy nights: With minimal prep and a short cooking time, pad thai fits into hectic schedules. No lengthy simmering is required!
  • Tastes even better as leftovers: the noodles absorb more flavor overnight for tastier leftover pad thai the next day. Just gently reheat.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pad Thai

Here are answers to some common questions about making this classic Thai dish:

What are the best noodles to use in pad thai?

Rice stick noodles or pad thai noodles are ideal. Look for fresh or dried noodles in Asian grocery stores. Soak the dried ones in hot water before using.

What protein can I use besides shrimp?

Chicken, extra-firm tofu, or pork work well. You can also keep it vegetarian. Add protein after cooking noodles.

What should I do if the pad thai is too dry?

Add a splash more fish sauce, lime juice, or water to moisten it. The noodles should be evenly coated.

What if my pad thai is too soggy or saucy?

Cook over high heat, tossing constantly, to evaporate the moisture. You may also need less sauce.

Should I rinse the noodles after boiling them?

Yes, it stops the cooking, so they don’t get mushy when you stir-fry them.

Can I make pad thai sauce in advance?

Yes, combine the sauce ingredients ahead of time. It can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

What should I do if my pad thai is bland?

Add more fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, or Sriracha to boost the flavors. Let it sit for a few minutes for the noodles to absorb.

How do I get that restaurant-style wok flavor?

Use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or carbon steel wok to replicate the taste of street food.

What garnishes go well with pad thai?

Chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, bean sprouts, and Thai chili peppers.

Check Out Thai Noodle Recipes to Try:

 

Quick Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe

Shrimp Pad Thai

This easy pad thai recipe with shrimp features the perfect sweet and tangy tamarind sauce, tender noodles, plump shrimp, and peanuts. Learn how to make classic Thai street food at home.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Dinner
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

The sauce is the most essential part of pad thai. Here is what you'll need:

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of tamarind concentrate or lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha (optional)

For the Pad Thai:

  • 8 ounces of dried rice noodles
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Instructions
 

Follow these simple steps to make restaurant-quality shrimp pad thai at home. The prep work is minimal, and it cooks up fast, just like street pad thai.

    Gather all the ingredients.

    • Gather all the sauce ingredients and prep the shrimp, garlic, shallots, chili, eggs, sprouts, peanuts, lime, and cilantro.

    Boil and Rinse the Rice noodles.

    • Boil the rice noodles per package directions until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

    Make the sauce.

    • Whisk together the fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind, vinegar, and Sriracha in a small bowl. This savory-sweet pad thai sauce adds tons of flavor.

    Stir-Fry the aromatics.

    • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. Add the eggs and scramble briefly. Push the eggs to the side. Add 2 tablespoons of oil, garlic, shallots, and chili. Stir-fry for 1 minute.

    Add the shrimp.

    • Push aromatics to the side. Add the shrimp and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes until pink. Remove the shrimp and set them aside.

    Toss the Noodles and sauce.

    • Add the noodles and sauce. Stir-fry for 2–3 minutes, tossing constantly, until noodles are evenly coated. They will soak up the sauce and become softer.

    Add Protein and toppings.

    • Return the shrimp to the noodles. Add sprouts, peanuts, and a squeeze of lime juice. Stir-fry 1 minute more until heated through.

    Garnish and Serve

    • Garnish with cilantro. Serve pad thai immediately while it's hot and enjoy!

    Notes

    • You can find tamarind paste or concentrate at Asian markets or well-stocked grocery stores. It gives the sauce an authentic, tangy flavor.
    • If you can't find rice noodles, you can substitute vermicelli noodles or angel hair pasta in a pinch.
    • To save time, you can purchase pre-cooked frozen shrimp and just thaw them before adding them to the stir-fry.
    • Leftover cooked shrimp works great too. Just toss it in at the end to heat through.
    • For a vegetarian option, substitute pressed extra-firm tofu for the shrimp.
    • For more spice, add some sambal oelek or Sriracha to the sauce.
    • If the finished dish seems dry, splash in a little water, fish sauce, or lime juice.
    • For crunch, garnish with chopped roasted peanuts instead of plain.
    • Fresh bean sprouts are ideal, but you can swap for blanched spinach or bok choy.
    • Don't forget the lime wedges! The fresh citrus juice really brightens the flavors.

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