What Are the Best Tips to Make Pad Thai?

Amber Eberle

Pad Thai is a popular stir-fried noodle dish that originated in Thailand. There are many recipes available that give instructions on how to make Pad Thai, but some people are intimidated by the usually long list of ingredients as well as the cooking techniques. Proper cooking utensils are also essential to make Pad Thai. The dish cooks quickly, so all ingredients should be prepped in advance. For the best results, a person should plan to make Pad Thai one or two servings at a time, and serve immediately.

Palm sugar is an ingredient in the sauce for Pad Thai.
Palm sugar is an ingredient in the sauce for Pad Thai.

A key piece of cooking equipment used to make Pad Thai is a wok. This deep, saucer-shaped, traditional pan is used to make many different types of Asian dishes. The material that is wok is made of heats up very quickly, and the heat is directly transferred to the food being cooked. When cooking Pad Thai, a very hot wok should be used.

Thin rice noodles are a main ingredient in Pad Thai.
Thin rice noodles are a main ingredient in Pad Thai.

There are a number of different Pad Thai recipes, but the dish typically consists of thin rice noodles, a signature sauce, tofu, eggs, green onions, garlic, and bean sprouts. Protein, such as chicken or shrimp, can also be added. Much of the flavor in Pad Thai comes from the sauce. This can be made by combining palm sugar, fish sauce, and tamarind paste. If these ingredients are unavailable, a commercial Pad Thai sauce can be bought pre-made, and the best varieties are usually found at Asian markets.

Chicken Pad Thai is one of the most recognizable examples of Thai cuisine.
Chicken Pad Thai is one of the most recognizable examples of Thai cuisine.

Since Pad Thai cooks very quickly in a hot wok, it is important to have all the ingredients prepped before beginning to make Pad Thai. If dry rice noodles are being used they should be soaked in water until they are al dente, and then drained. Over-soaking the noodles will result in a soggy dish. The vegetables, garlic, and tofu should be chopped, and the eggs, in their shell, should be near the cooking area. The Pad Thai sauce needs to be prepared before cooking also, and a ladle can be used to pour it into the wok during cooking.

Pad Thai tastes best when it is freshly-cooked in small batches. For this reason, only one or two servings should be made at a time. This is usually not a problem since it only takes a few minutes for the dish to cook. A heat-resistant spatula, wooden spoon, or similar kitchen tool can be used to toss and stir the ingredients around the wok while cooking.

After the dish is fully cooked, it should ideally be served immediately. Pad Thai is typically served with crushed peanuts, a lime wedge, and a hot chili sauce. These items are usually served on the side so a person can prepare his Pad Thai to his own taste.

With its high smoking point and mild taste, peanut oil is ideal for making Pad Thai.
With its high smoking point and mild taste, peanut oil is ideal for making Pad Thai.

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