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Easy, Accessible Pad Thai

This pad thai recipe uses commonly stocked ingredients like ketchup and Worcestershire sauce to mimic the flavor of tamarind, brown sugar in lieu of palm sugar, and crushed red chili flakes (like the kind you use on pizza and pasta) to provide the heat normally brought to this dish by Thai chilies.

Unfortunately, there is no good substitute in my opinion for the rice noodles that are the heart of this dish. Luckily, they are light, ship inexpensively, and keep forever. If you don't have an Asian market nearby where you can buy them in person, you can order them online from web retailers like amazon. You might even be able to find them at your neighborhood Cost Plus (World Market). But don't discount the Asian section of your grocery, either. With the increasing popularity of so-called *ethnic* cooking, new ingredients are popping up everywhere.

The recipe is for 2 to 3 servings. If you want to double it, I recommend just prepping two separate batches for the best result. As with any stir-fry type dish, smaller batches produce a better result because the heat doesn't get diluted by too many ingredients in the pan.

Shinae Choi Robinson

Ingredients

2 to 3 servings
  1. 8 oz pad thai noodles, (sometimes labeled as pho noodles, but get the wide ones - they're about 1/3" wide uncooked)
  2. 2 eggs, whisked and lightly seasoned with salt
  3. 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  4. 1/2 lb. protein of choice (I prefer shrimp or chicken), cut in bite-sized pieces and lightly seasoned with salt a pinch of sugar
  5. oil for frying
  6. 2 green onions, cut into 1.5"long segments
  7. 4 lime wedges to serve on the side
  8. cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  9. For the sauce:
  10. 3 Tablespoons ketchup
  11. 2.5-3 Tablespoons fish sauce
  12. 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  13. 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  14. 1-2 Tablespoons brown sugar (or white sugar if you don't have brown)
  15. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  16. 1 Tablespoon crushed chili flakes, or to taste (I'd say this makes the dish about a 7 on the heat scale)

Method

30 to 45 mins
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    There are 2 options for prepping the noodles: 1) If you have time, soak the noodles in enough cold water to cover for 1 hour and then drain well. This results in a better texture. OR 2) Soak the noodles in enough hot water to cover for about 12 to 15 minutes or so, until all the noodles go completely limp when you pull them up by the handful out of the water, and drain well.

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    Mix all sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir thoroughly to incorporate all the seasonings evenly.

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    In a large wok or non-stick pan, bring a Tablespoon of oil up to medium high heat and saute/stir-fry your protein until cooked through. Set aside.

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    Scramble your eggs and set aside with the other protein.

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    Turn the heat to high, add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of oil to the pan, wait about 15 seconds to heat it up, and add in the noodles. Let the noodles sit for about 30 seconds so as not to disperse the heat then give a toss to redistribute them. Do this 3 or 4 times before adding in the rest of your ingredients. If your noodles start to stick together a little at this point, don't worry. When you add the liquid from the sauce, they'll separate again as you stir.

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    Add in the rest of your ingredients - meat, eggs, sprouts, green onions, and sauce - and toss thoroughly to season each noodle strand.

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    If you like some crispy/charred bits to your noodles, now is the time to add another Tablespoon of oil to the pan, and just let your noodles sit for a minute and a half to two minutes. This will crisp up some of the edges.

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    Garnish to taste with chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges. The added fresh lime juice gives the dish extra zip.

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    Enjoy! :)

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