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Pad Thai

Ben Fink

Servings: one or two.

Sweet, sour, spicy, salty: This classic noodle stir-fry is one of the best examples of the marvelous flavor and texture contrasts that characterize Thai cooking. Rice noodles, dried shrimp, and salted cabbage can be found in most Asian markets.


  • 1/4 block firm tofu
  • 8 Tbs. peanut or light vegetable oil
  • 1 large handful thin rice noodles (about 6 oz.)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup water (use as needed, 1 Tbs. at a time)
  • 1 Tbs. rice vinegar or distilled vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs. dried baby shrimp
  • 3 Tbs. salted cabbage(I prefer Tien Jin brand), rinsed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • 2 Tbs. roasted peanuts, skinned and crushed
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 small handful Chinese chives or 2 scallion tops, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 egg

For the garnish:

  • 1 lime, cut in wedges
  • 2 to 3 wedges fresh banana blossom or Belgian endive
  • 1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 2 to 3 blades Chinese chives or scallions
  • 1 small bunch Asian pennywort or arugula

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on two servings
  • Calories (kcal) : 740
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 530
  • Fat (g): 59
  • Saturated Fat (g): 10
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 17
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 29
  • Cholesterol (mg): 120
  • Sodium (mg): 510
  • Carbohydrates (g): 42
  • Fiber (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 19


First fry the tofu

  • Put the tofu in a pie plate to drain and set another plate on top. Weight it with a heavy canister (about 3 pounds is good) for 2 hours. Slice the tofu into strips.
  • Heat the wok until it feels quite hot. Add 3 Tbs.oil. When the oil is smoking, fry the tofu strips until they’re golden brown and crisp, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on each side. Drain the strips on paper towels and slice them into thinner strips. Discard the remaining oil.

Get all your ingredients lined up for action

  • Soak the rice noodles in lukewarm water until they’re pliable, about 15 minutes. Drain, press them dry with a towel so they don’t get gummy, and cover them with a damp towel to keep them moist but not wet. (Wet noodles would make the oil in the wok spatter.)
  • Organization is key, so arrange the ingredients in the order you’ll need them. Line up the oil, garlic, soaked noodles, water, vinegar, fish sauce, fried tofu, baby shrimp, salted cabbage, peanuts, chili powder, sugar, bean sprouts, scallions, and egg, as well as the ingredients for the garnish.

Start the stir-fry:

  • Heat a large skillet until it feels very hot when you hold your hand above it. If the heat is too intense, the noodles will clump; if it’s too low, they’ll get soggy.
  • Add 4 Tbs. oil. When it begins to smoke, swirl the wok to coat it with the hot oil. Add the garlic. Stir briskly for about 30 seconds. Lower the heat slightly if the garlic looks like it’s starting to burn.
  • Stir-fry the noodles. Use two spatulas, scooping and tossing to coat and separate. Add 1 to 2 Tbs. water to keep the noodles from bunching up, and use the corner of your spatula to detangle them, if necessary. Stir-fry until the noodles are soft but not soggy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the vinegar, fish sauce, tofu, shrimp, and cabbage. Continue to stir-fry for about 2 minutes, shaking and scooping the noodles.
  • Add the crushed peanuts, chili powder, and sugar. Mix thoroughly, about 2 minutes. Quickly mix in the bean sprouts and Chinese chives.

Scramble the egg and add the garnishes

  • Push the noodles aside, add 1 Tbs. oil, and break an egg into the wok. Scramble the egg lightly for about 1-1/2 minutes. Fold the noodle mixture back on top of the egg. Roll the pad thai onto a serving platter so the scrambled egg ends up on top.
  • Arrange the lime wedges, banana blossoms, bean sprouts, Chinese chive blades, and pennywort around the pad thai and serve immediately.


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