Food, Main courses, Recipes

Pad Thai and my Asian store cupboard picks

July 12, 2015

You know when you make one of those dishes that you just get hooked on and feel you need to make it every night. This pad thai one of those dishes!

I often order pad Thai when dining out in Thai restaurants but until last year I had never made it myself. I think sometimes the thought of cooking a Thai dish, or perhaps Asian dish in general, is a turn off to some people as you think you need a huge list of ingredients. While some Asian dishes do have pages and pages of ingredients, most dishes only need a few ingredients. The other great thing is that these are often store cupboard ingredients so you stock up on some items once, then they will be there for you to throw together a great meal anytime you want.

  • Soy sauce: pretty self-explanatory, soy sauce has a complex, savory taste and is great for cooking in stir fries or as a salad dressing. You can also use it in other meaty dishes like bolognese or stew to add a depth to your meat dishes. I love the Kikkoman variety.
  • Toasted seasame oil: I love it in dressings and finishing off dishes (it’s best used for drizzling rather than cooking – used coconut oil for that!). Again it can be used in non-Asian cuisine and has a lovely toasted, nutty flavour.
  • Fish sauce: made from fermented fish (which I agree sounds rather unappealing) and is used to season dishes rather than be the dominante flavour, hence a little goes a long way.
  • Oyster sauce: another fermented sauce, this time from oysters, oyster sauce is very thick and is great for adding into stir fries, especially those with beef.
  • Runny honey: there are traditional Asian ingredients that you can use to add a sweetness to your dish such as Mirin, but I always have honey on hand. It works so well with other ingredients such as soy sauce and I love brushing it on some meat before grilling.
  • Chinese or Thai five spice: basically what it says on the tin! A blend of five spices which most commonly are cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel seeds and Sichuan pepper. It’s a great way to get Asian flavours into your food fast, just rub on a piece of meat and grill or fry. Beautiful with pork or chicken.

Then in terms of the fresh ingredients you need, you have the whole trio of Asian cuisine, chilli, garlic and ginger. Most people probably regularly have these on hand but here are some tips if you don’t buy these regularly:

  • Keep fresh ginger in the freezer to make it last longer, you can then just grate it as you need it.
  • Instead of fresh chillis, substitute dried chilli flakes, you may need to adjust the recipe as sometimes I find dried chilli flakes are hotter than fresh chillies. They do also add a slightly different element to the dish i.e. more of a warm rather than a fresh spiciness.
  • Use preprepared ginger, garlic and chilli. You can buy so many varieties of prepared seasonings now. My favourite is the range from Gourmet Garden. I always have the garlic one in my fridge. No more wasted garlic cloves and no smelly fingers from chopping! Win win!

Now this recipe does use one extra ingredient, tamrind paste. It’s a bitter paste and is what takes this dish from a noodle dish to a pad Thai. You can easily find it in most large supermarkets now but if you can’t just leave it out and you will still have a really delicious noodle dish. If you can’t find it and really want to include that flavour you could use pomegranate molasses or (according to my research on Google) mash up a couple of dates with lime juice. Let me know how it works out!


Pad Thai
Serves 2
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  1. 120 grams rice noodles
  2. 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  3. 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  4. 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  5. 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  6. 1 clove crushed garlic
  7. 1 red chilli, finely diced
  8. 1 large carrot, grated
  9. 50 grams tender stem broccoli, sliced
  10. Coconut oil
  11. 300 grams raw prawns
  12. 1 tablespoon water
  13. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  14. 3 spring onions, sliced
  15. 1 egg, lightly whisked
  16. Small handful of crushed peanuts
  17. Small handful of chopped coriander
  18. Lime
  1. First, prepare all the components of the dish so they are ready to cook, once you start cooking it will only take about 5 minutes so you want to have everything ready.
  2. Depending on your rice noodles these may require soaking. Soak in water water according to the pack instructions. Once ready drain and set aside. If you will be leaving them for longer than 10 minutes, give them a little rinse in cold water.
  3. Get three bowls and in one, mix the tamarind paste, sugar and fish sauce together. In another bowl add the grated goner, crushed garlic and finely diced chilli, and mix. Then in the last bowl crack the egg and whisk lightly.
  4. Prepare your vegetables by grating the carrot, slicing the broccoli and the spring onion. Prepare the prawns by removing any shell and de-veining if required.
  5. Now you are ready to go. Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat and add your coconut oil. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add the prawns and coat, then cook through. Add the vegetables with the water and soy sauce to help them steam, and half the spring onions.
  6. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the rice noodles and the tamarind mixture. Mix then make a well in the middle. Add the egg and stir it a little in the pan before stirring it in with the rest of the noodles.
  7. Remove from the heat and serve with the remaining spring onions, crushed peanuts and chopped coriander. Garnish each plate with a wedge of lime.
a girl and her home

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