When we were on the way to my daughter’s ballet class the other day, we walked pass a small Thai restaurant and there were a few people sitting outside having their early dinner. My daughter was quite excited to see the food they were eating, and she said to me, ‘mmm…it smells yummy! What are they eating?’ So I told her it was Thai food, and that we ate it on our holiday in Thailand. She smiled and said,’ Can we please go back to Thailand soon?’ So that night, I looked for the Phad Thai recipe I once wrote and made it for dinner that very night, taking us all back to our lovely holiday with great food and company, but without flying thousand of miles!
Needless to say Thailand has amazing cuisine; Fresh vegetables and seafood can be found anywhere, it is an absolute food heaven! With a few fresh herbs and simple cooking methods, a flavorsome meal will be ready in no time. We had some very simple food at the beach restaurant every day: Phad Thai with prawns, vegetable fried rice – my daughter’s favorite – chicken and prawn skewers served with peanut sauce and some other curry dishes. One night, we had dinner at a seafood restaurant located just next to the sea, we chose the seafood that we liked from some fish tanks and they cooked them according to the flavor and method we preferred. We ordered clams, stir-fried with chili, garlic and coriander, it tasted amazingly fresh and not overwhelmingly spicy. The jus from the clams mixed with the soy sauce was so good that we spooned it over to our fluffy Jasmine rice! The other dish that we loved was Mantis shrimps lightly deep fried and then quickly stir fried with garlic, lemongrass and spring onion, the flesh was firm with a subtle sweetness, a delight to every bite. The shells were cooked in such a way that they became so crunchy you could even eat them! It was such a memorable meal as my sister and my niece from Macau were there as well (they joined us for a few days in Phuket) to enjoy this wonderful food with us.
During our holiday, I took part in a cooking class to learn more about authentic Thai cuisine. Ingredients were all prepared for us and all we had to do was mixing and frying. For me, the class lacked of a bit of an action, such as going to the market, picking out ingredients, feeling the textures, preparing them etc. Having said that, I did learn something from the cooking class though. I realised that most of the Thai dishes only require so little seasoning. For example: the common salad dressing only calls for 3 ingredients: lemon juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar. 3 ingredients can make such a delicious and refreshing flavor. From then on, a Thai side salad was very often on our dining table. I will post a delicious Thai salad recipe soon. But for now, I hope you enjoy this Phad Thai recipe.
*Just a few notes:
The Phad Thai sauce – can be made a day before and kept in a glass jar in the fridge. Palm sugar is available in most Asian stores and please try to find it as it does have a lovely flavour that regular sugar doesn’t have. I use the one that comes in blocks, just grate the sugar and add it to the fish sauce and tamarind paste, whisk until all sugar dissolves.
The rice noodles – choose the one that is no wider than 4mm, soak the dry noodles in warm water for 30-40 minutes (depends on the brand of the noodles) until al dente (make sure it is not over soaked! You would rather have them too hard than mushy, as you can always add a splash of water and cook them a bit longer in the wok). If you like it spicy, fold in some chopped chilli at the end.
We will cook the ingredients one after the other in the same pan or wok, so you need to keep an eye on everything in the pan – working fast is the key!
(Makes 3 serving)
- 250g Dry rice noodles (Phad Thai noodles), soaked following the notes above
- 120g Bean sprouts
- 160g firm tofu, diced
- 2 Eggs
- 200g raw prawn, shelled and deveined
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 small shallots, peeled and minced
- ¼ cup sweet preserved turnip, finely chopped (Asian store)(optional)
- Vegetable oil
- Handful of coriander leaves, for garnish
- Handful of dry-roasted peanut, finely chopped, for garnish
- Lime wedges to serve
For the Phad Thai sauce:
(Makes 1 cup)
- 90g fish sauce
- 100g palm sugar, grated
- 30g brown sugar
- 75g Tamarind paste
Make the Phad Thai sauce by whisking all ingredients together (see notes). Make it ahead of time to ensure all sugar dissolves and the sauce is well combined.
In a large non-stick frying pan or wok; heat about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil on medium high heat. Add the noodles and use two spatulas (I use one spatula and one pair of wooden chopsticks) to stir and toss the noodles until they start to soften. Add in about ¼ cup of the Phad Thai sauce until all noodles are coated with the sauce. Fry it a little bit more then move the noodles on one side of the frying pan.
Now add another tablespoon of vegetable oil on the empty side of the pan, tip in the tofu, half of the bean sprouts, shallots, garlic and preserved turnip. Fry and mix them well (not with the noodles) – quickly toss the noodles (by itself) to ensure they are not burnt. Now add the prawns into the tofu side of the pan, add a bit more oil if it gets too dry, fry the prawn for about a minute. Then spoon over some Phad Thai sauce over the veggies and prawns. Check and toss the noodles again.
Now make some room in between the veggies and noodles, add a little bit oil then crack in the 2 eggs. Let them sit there until the egg white starts to turn solid, then use your spatula to lightly break the egg into small pieces. Check the other ingredients in the pan, make sure they are not burnt.
When the prawns are cooked then quickly toss everything in the pan together. Take one noodle out and taste it, add more sauce if needed (you might not need all the prepared sauce).
Transfer the noodles mixture on the serving plates, garnish with the chopped peanut, some reserved bean sprouts, a piece of lime wedge, coriander leaves. Just before serving, squeeze the lime juice all over and serve.