Pad Thai with Shrimp
This easy Pad Thai recipe is fresh and flavorful, a stir-fry dish that features rice noodles, shrimp, scrambled eggs, and fresh vegetables, all tossed together in a tangy homemade pad Thai sauce. It comes together in just 30 minutes!
Making great pad Thai at home doesn’t have to be a daunting task, as I once thought. All you need are a few key ingredients and a super hot wok.
I remember playing around with different pad Thai recipes when our oldest daughter was just a tot. On days when we would go exploring in “the big city”, I many times ended up pushing Hatti in a metal grocery cart through the aisles of United Noodles. Right in the middle of Minneapolis, I felt as though I had been transported to another land, unable to read most of the labels in this amazing Asian grocery store. I was completely enamored, wanting to know what each and every item was. How it was used. How it tasted. And so I never left empty handed. My paper grocery bags were always packed full of excitement, ready for exploration in our own kitchen.
But it wasn’t until just recently that I finally nailed down a solid version of pad Thai to make at home for my family. Leaning on a recipe I made while I was a guest of GE Monogram in Lousiville, Kentucky a couple years ago, this is my happy-at-home recipe for Pad Thai with Shrimp.
The best pad Thai is chock-full of flavor, and takes your taste buds on a journey from sour (tamarind paste and lime juice) to salty (fish sauce and soy sauce) to sweet (palm sugar or brown sugar) to spicy (pepper flakes), all in one bite. I don’t pretend to be any kind of pad Thai know-it-all, or promise that this is a purist’s form of the dish. But I do know that this tastes strikingly similar to dishes that I’ve happily devoured in Asian restaurants. So I’m all good with it.
If you’ve never made pad Thai before, you’ll need to search the shelves in the Asian section of your grocery store for rice noodles and fish sauce. Traditional pad Thai calls for palm sugar, which I haven’t been able to find in regular grocery stores, but light brown sugar is an easy substitute. And I highly recommend using tamarind paste.
For The Sauce
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar (add more if you like a sweeter pad Thai)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons Thai tamarind concentrate - I like Dragonfly Tamarind Concentrate (see photo in post)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce - I like Lee Kum Kee brand
- 2 teaspoons sriracha - our family likes the one from Trader Joe's (use more or less, depending on your heat preference)
For The Pad Thai
- 8 ounces thin rice noodles - I recommend Thai Kitchen Stir-Fry Rice Noodles
- 2½ tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- 12 (21/25 count) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- 3 green onions, sliced into 1" pieced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- ⅓ cup finely chopped roasted salted peanuts, divided
- fresh cilantro and lime wedges, for serving
- For the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk all sauce ingredients together. Set aside.
- For the pad Thai: Cook the rice noodles according to package directions. Drain the noodles in a strainer and rinse with cold water until noodles are no longer hot. Drizzle ½ tablespoon of the oil over the top of the noodles and toss briefly to prevent sticking.
- Place shrimp on a paper towel lined pan or plate and pat the shrimp dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Once oil is shimmering, add the shrimp. Sear for 1-2 minutes per side, until shrimp is opaque and has a golden exterior - cook time will depend on size of shrimp and heat temperature; do not overcook. Transfer shrimp to a clean plate and set aside.
- Add remaining tablespoon of oil to sauté pan. Once it's shimmering, add the bean sprouts, carrots, and green onions. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
- Slide the veggies to one side of the pan and add the whisked eggs on the other side. Cook the eggs until scrambled, stirring and chopping into little bites.
- Add the cooked noodles, cooked shrimp, and 1 tablespoon of the chopped peanuts to the pan. Then drizzle the pad Thai sauce over the top and toss it altogether until everything is evenly coated in the sauce. Remove pan from heat.
- Serve: Serve immediately, sprinkled with more chopped peanuts. Offer plenty of lime wedges for squeezing over the top, plus fresh cilantro. For those who like more heat, also offer crushed red pepper flakes.
Tamarind Concentrate: Please note that there are many different brands of tamarind concentrate, and their texture and flavor can vary significantly. I really like Dragonfly Tamarind Concentrate, as it closely resembles the flavor of my favorite local takeout pad Thai. Dragonfly is a Thai brand that I get at a local Asian grocer; it's also available online - see the photo in my post for the exact product. Do not use an Indian brand of tamarind concentrate as it doesn't have the right flavor for this dish.
How To Make Beef Pad Thai: Thinly slice 1 pound of lean beef steak (such as top sirloin) against the grain, and then into bite-size pieces. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is browned on all sides, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer cooked beef to a clean plate and set aside.
How To Make Pork Pad Thai: Thinly slice 1 pound of boneless pork (such as boneless pork chops or loin) against the grain, and then into bite-size pieces. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until pork is browned on all sides, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer cooked pork to a clean plate and set aside.
How To Make Chicken Pad Thai: Thinly slice 1 pound of boneless chicken breasts against the grain, and then into bite-size pieces. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until chicken is browned on all sides, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer cooked chicken to a clean plate and set aside.
How To Make Tofu Pad Thai: Slice a 14-16 ounce block of extra-firm tofu into thin slices, about ¼" thick. Place tofu pieces between layers of paper towel and press lightly - let sit for 30 minutes to soak up excess liquid. Then cut the tofu into bite-size pieces. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large nonstick pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add tofu pieces in a single layer and sauté for 2-3 minutes without disturbing, or until nicely browned. Turn the tofu over and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until just lightly browned. Transfer cooked tofu to a clean plate and set aside.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 561Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 136mgSodium: 1714mgCarbohydrates: 91gFiber: 7gSugar: 38gProtein: 16g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.