Have you ever enjoyed a restaurant meal so much you wished you could re-create it at home? Perhaps you looked on the internet for how to make that memorable dish from your own home kitchen only to be disappointed with the results and discouraged by what you hoped for would be a hit with friends and family. If it makes you feel better, I have experienced this myself on my occasions.
However, there was a time early on in my marriage where my husband and I lived paycheck to paycheck, which left very little for luxuries like an evening out at our favorite restaurant if it were not a very special occasion. Growing up in a family with little means prepared me for times when I needed to be frugal, resourceful, and creative.
One valuable skill I developed over the years was to re-create my favorite restaurant dishes at home not only because it was much less expensive, but because I could adjust the ingredients to suit my own personal taste and preferences. I have this uncanny gift for tasting dishes and dissecting the flavor profile in order to make my own (better) version. Often I would not be satisfied with my first version but I felt challenged to keep trying until I got it just right. This was especially true with my favorite Asian dishes.
Today I have a recipe for Chicken Pad Thai, a popular restaurant Thai dish. I always order this dish when I eat at Thai restaurants and there are many times I can proudly say I like my home version better. It is made with Tamarind and a slight hint of palm sugar (instead of ketchup, which is a common substitute).
Here is a great tip: make the sauce first and use it as your stir-fry sauce. Use my recipe as a base and adapt it to your liking. If you prefer sweeter, then add a little bit more palm sugar. If you like it a little more sour, add more tamarind. The same goes for garlic.
By making sure you have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go, your path to Pad Thai success will be rewarded, saving you money and most importantly time – a valuable commodity for busy parents.
Chicken Pad Thai
This authentic Pad Thai recipe is easy to make, gluten-free and is as good as your neighborhood Thai recipe.
- 5 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
- 4 tablespoons organic coconut palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 6 ounces dried rice stick noodles, 1/4-inch wide
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 ounces thinly sliced cooked chicken breast
- 1/2 red bell pepper and julienne
- 1 carrot, peeled and julienne
- 2 bunches green onion cut into 2 inch pieces
- 3 ounces cubed firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
- 1/2 cup bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 lime cut, quartered
- To make the sauce, combine the water, tamarind concentrate, palm sugar, and fish sauce in a small sauce pan. Cook the sauce for one minute and remove from heat.
- To cook the noodles, fill a medium large pot half way with water and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cover the pot with a lid and turn off the heat. Set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, drain the noodles.
- In a large saute pan or wok, heat the pan on high heat with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the garlic and after 10 seconds, add the noodles.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the sauce to the pan and stir the noodles to distribute the sauce evenly. Once the noodles absorb the sauce, add 2 more tablespoons. Repeat this processes until all the sauce is nearly gone.
- Quickly add the bell pepper, carrots, and green onions.
- Continue to stir-fry the noodles for a minute.
- Gently stir in the tofu and cook for a minute.
- Add any remaining sauce.
- Gently move the noodles and vegetables off to the side of the pot and break an egg and cook it until it looks partially scrambled.
- Stir the egg in.
- Transfer the noodles to a serving dish. Sprinkle the top with the roasted peanuts, bean sprouts, and cilantro.
- Serve the Pad Thai with lemon wedges.
Yield: 3-4 as a side dish and 2 as a main
Alice Currah is the publisher of popular food blog, Savory Sweet Life. Her approachable everyday recipes are accompanied by beautiful step by step photos and have been featured online at Martha Stewart, Real Simple, The Pioneer Woman, Epicurious, Bon Appetit, Saveur, iVillage and many more. In March 2010, Forbes.com featured Alice as one of “Eight of the Very Best Food Bloggers.” You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.