Pad Thai is a common staple and perennial favorite on most Thai restaurant menus in Canada. The dish is comprised of tender ribbon noodles and bean sprouts, punctuated with shrimp, scrambled egg and tofu, then dressed with a tangy, savory sauce, crunchy peanuts, cilantro and tart lime. What's not to like? Luckily, the mass appeal of this comforting dish extends to grown ups and kids alike -- it has all the appeal of a plate of pasta, but offers something a little different in the flavour department.
Here's a recipe that lets you enjoy a well-balanced, nourishing take on everyone's favorite Thai noodle dish.
1/2 lb Firm tofu, drained
1/2 lb Shrimp, raw, de-veined (any size you like)
2 Eggs, extra-large, lightly beaten
2 cup Bean sprouts, rinsed and lightly drained
1-2 Sweet peppers, chopped in a fine julienne
6 tbsp Safflower or corn oil
2 tbsp each, minced Garlic and minced Ginger
Sauce (mix together)
1/3 cup Tomato Ketchup
1/4 cup Asian Fish Sauce
1 1/2 tbsp Sugar
3 tbsp Water
1/2 lb Thai- or Chinese-style rice stick noodles (about linguine width) - softened in hot tap water for 15 - 20 minutes and drained
3 tbsp Scallion greens, chopped on a bias
1/2 tsp Crushed red chillies
2 1/2 tbsp Cilantro, roughly chopped
4tbsp Peanuts, dry roasted & roughly chopped
2 Limes, cut into six wedges
Wrap tofu in paper towels, place between two plates and weigh down with something heavy like a cast-iron skillet (or a big can of tomatoes). Let drain 20 minutes, unwrap and cut into a 1/4" dice.
Heat wok or heavy skillet over a medium-low heat, as you assemble and organize your ingredients. Add 2 tbsp oil and turn heat to high. Once the wok is hot but not smoking, add tofu. Stir-fry about 3 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Pour oil very carefully out of the pan and wipe it clean. Add 2 tbsp oil and cook the shrimp in the same manner, removing as soon as it has turned coral in colour. Carefully pour out oil and clean pan before proceeding.
Re-heat the pan, add the last 2 tbsp oil and heat until hot. Add eggs, stirring to scramble over a medium-high heat. Add peppers, garlic and ginger and stir fry until fragrant -- about 10 seconds. Add the pre-mixed sauce and drained rice noodles. Toss over a medium-high heat, cooking about 3 - 4 minutes until noodles are tender and mixture is dry.
Add the bean sprouts, shrimp and tofu, and toss to mix. Serve on pre-warmed plates or bowl and let your lucky recipients customize their Pad Thai with favorite garnishes.
TIP: This is already a pretty low-fat recipe (with the exception of the peanut garnish!), but you could ramp up the nutrition in this dish by using a brown rice noodle (Mama is a brand exported from Thailand). If cholesterol is a concern in your house then lose the shrimp in favour of diced skinless, boneless chicken breast or pork tenderloin. Increase the veggies by serving with steamed baby bok choy or protein-perfect edamame!