Perfect Pad Thai

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:


Appears in

My Street Food Kitchen

My Street Food Kitchen

By Jennifer Joyce

Published 2015

  • About

Until recently, making the perfect pad Thai had eluded me. I tried numerous renditions but it never had the wow factor. A talented chef called Alima, from Krabi, showed me how it was done. Two important light bulb moments happened: firstly, you can’t make a big batch in one wok, because it goes soggy (most Thais cook individual portions); secondly, the noodles should be firm when they go into the wok. The high heat and smaller quantity of noodles finish the cooking and create the ultimate texture. Have all the ingredients prepared and close by before you start cooking.

Preparation: 15 Minutes, Plus 20 Minutes Soaking
Cooking: 20 Minutes


  • 250 g (9 oz) dried rice stick noodles
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 300 g (10½ oz) raw prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 g (4 oz/1 cup) bean sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled turnip (optional)
  • small handful of chives or garlic chives, snipped into 2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces
  • Lime wedges, roasted and coarsely ground peanuts and coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve

Pad Thai sauce

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 bird’s eye chillies (or 1 thumb-size red chilli), stems removed, finely chopped
  • tablespoons grated palm sugar (jaggery) or soft brown sugar
  • 90 g (3 oz) tamarind purée mixed with 50 ml ( fl oz) water
  • 50 ml ( fl oz) fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce


Break the noodles into 15 cm (6 inch) pieces and put them in a large bowl. Cover with warm water and stand for 20 minutes. They should soften, but they will still be fairly firm when you start to cook them.

Meanwhile, to make the pad Thai sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a wok over low heat. Add the garlic and chilli and stir for 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients and stir for 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves. Pour into a small bowl and clean the wok.

You can only make 2 portions at a time in the wok, but it doesn’t take long to cook and is better than crowding the wok. Heat the wok over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. When the oil is nearly smoking, add half the prawns and toss for 1 minute or until pink. Push the prawns to the side and crack an egg into the centre of the wok. Stir so that it scrambles. Add half the bean sprouts and chopped pickled turnip, if using, and stir for 1 minute. Drain the noodles and add half to the wok with half the sauce and half the chives. Using two long spoons, toss the noodles constantly for 3-4 minutes or until heated through.

Divide the pad Thai between two plates, then wipe the pan clean and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Scatter with peanuts and coriander and serve with lime wedges.