Chicken pad thai makes a great weeknight meal when you are looking for something special but don’t have a lot of time. Forget take out. This is better. And it will be piping hot when you sit down to eat.
This isn’t the super funky smelling, fishy pad thai purists fresh from the streets of Bangkok are looking for. But it’s not the super watered down lowest common denominator version either. No ketchup here. No soy sauce.
But no dried shrimp either. But way closer to Bangkok than Denny’s for sure. Probably not far off your local Thai restaurant. Assuming your local restaurant isn’t in Thailand.
I tried this with dried shrimp. I wanted to like it. Really wanted to. So I could tell you all about the super authentic pad thai I came up with. The best outside of Thailand. But I hated it. Not my thing at all. That’s not right, of course. I’m the wimp here.
Kind of sad really. Embarrassing. So add a bit of dried shrimp if that works for you. And know you are more adventurous than me.
Chicken pad thai without a trip to the Asian grocer
You can make this chicken pad thai with ingredients from the grocery store. For real. You’ll need to hit the Asian aisle but there’s no trip to an Asian market required. Honest.
No trip hunting exotic ingredients. Not this time. Boring maybe – but I said easy weeknight dinner so…
This recipe is all about technique. Use this recipe. Or use another one. Doesn’t matter. But pay attention to the technique here.
No mushy noodles. No underdone noodles either. Eggs done just right. Sauce added at the last minute to keep the flavours fresh. Just repeatable, perfectly done chicken pad thai. Apply this to whatever pad you make. It will work.
Don’t boil your noodles
I never boil my rice noodles when there’s a stir fry step involved. And you shouldn’t either. Just soak them in really hot water. They will soften some.
They won’t be soft like they are in the final dish. Don’t freak out though. They cook more when you make the pad thai. This works. Trust me. Have faith. You’ll never get that mushy mess of noodles again.
The use of rice vinegar here is deliberate. Not everyone has time to make tamarind sauce. And I’ve read that they used rice vinegar in southern Thailand in the beginning. So maybe that makes this more authentic. Maybe not. But it’s easy to get. And it adds a nice tang.
Chili vinegar sauce adds zing
The other thing that’s different about this recipe is the chili vinegar sauce. It’s an extra bit of tang that gets added as you eat. Like that squeeze of lime. Brightens everything up.
Use the chili vinegar sauce or don’t – it’s a condiment. Treat it that way. I like it. Not too much though. Just a drizzle. A little lime is nice too. Layers of flavour…
Really good chicken pad thai at home on Tuesday night after you went shopping at the regular grocery store. Better than takeout and you made it yourself. Not bad at all…
chicken pad thai
chili vinegar sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp sambal oelek
pad thai sauce
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp sambal oelek
chicken pad thai
- 4 oz rice noodles - banh pho
- 2 eggs well mixed with 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 3 chicken thighs or 1 large breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1-2 green onions cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil plus one tsp in total
- dry roasted peanuts, more bean sprouts and red chilies (optional) to garnish
- Place the rice noodles in a large bowl. Add hot water to the top of the bowl. As hot as you can get it out of the tap. Let sit 20-40 minutes. A longer soak will just mean a slightly shorter cooking step later on. If you are jammed for time boiling water for 5-10 minutes works OK as well.
- Combine the chili vinegar sauce ingredients. Stir to combine. Set aside.
- Combine the pad thai sauce ingredients. Stir to combine. Set aside.
- Beat the eggs (use a fork) until they are an even yellow colour.
- Chop the chicken into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. If you have a wok you can drive over high heat use that. My stove and my wok don't play well together.
- Add the chicken and garlic and stir fry until the chicken is just done. This takes about two minutes. Be careful you don't let the garlic burn.
- Turn the heat down a bit and push the chicken to one side. Pour in the beaten eggs and film the bottom of the pan. You want it spread thin. Cook until the eggs just set up. Cut them into ribbons with your spatula. Transfer the chicken egg mixture to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the remaining two tbsp oil to the pan. Pre-heat again over medium heat. Add the noodles. Stir fry until the noodles soften. They will start to clump together when they are ready. Taste to make sure. You want them ever so slightly toothy. That's perfect.
- Push the noodles to the side of the pan. Add the bean sprouts and green onion along with the last tsp of oil. Stir fry for about 30 seconds.
- Start to try to work the noodles and bean sprout mixture together. This isn't as easy at it sounds. As soon as they are mixed sort of evenly add the pad thai sauce. Stir to combine. Add the egg mixture back into the noodle mixture. It should still be hot but if not cook for about 30 seconds to warm through.
- Divide into 2 bowls. Top with chopped peanuts and red chilies. Serve with lime wedges and chili vinegar sauce.