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Jan 24, 2009 05:48 PM

Pad thai

I've only eaten thai food once or twice, but thoroughly enjoyed the pad thai. A well-meaning friend bought me a "Pad Thai Kit" from a thai grocer so that I could make it at home...only there's no real instructions. It comes with pad thai noodles, tofu, preserved radish, dried shrimp, pad thai sauce, and fish sauce. The pad thai sauce has a brief recipe of "boil noodles. Add shrimp, bean sprouts and hard bean curd. Add pad thai sauce." I'm assuming sprouts and curd refer to radish and tofu, but what about the fish sauce? Are there any proportions here I need to know about? Any help or advice, please--as I've never made thai food before, I don't know what to do with leftover sauces either.

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  1. Your best best is honestly to bag your pad thai kit all together. Pad thai is one of my favorite things in the entire world. I have tried every do-it-yourself option under the sun, and I've never experienced anything close to the taste of the pad thai in my local (boston area) thai places- which cost about $6-$8- probably only slightly more expensive than that kit was. Don't feel bad, throw it in the trash, and tell your well-meaning friend that it was delicious.

    1 Reply
    1. re: CoryKatherine

      I couldn't disagree more. Pad Thai is reasonably easy to make, and is a quick and delicious meal. Will your first batch turn out great? Probably not. But with a little practice, you can do as good a job as the average Thai restaurant. And as you develop your skills, the product will improve.

      I suppose that you can get any food you enjoy in a restaurant. And if you can't be bothered to learn how to cook, the restaurant food will always be better than what you make at home. But Pad Thai isn't molecular gastronomy. It's very basic food, simply prepared. If you want to do it at home, you can. It just takes a little practice.

      1. re: alanbarnes

        I second CoryKatherine, but I'd keep the kit around in case there's a snowstorm or at least donate it to a food bank.

        1. re: alanbarnes

          Pim explains the dish well, but I think the assembly instructions in the Thai-for-Americans cookbook I use are simpler. It calls for starting with hot oil in the wok or large frying pan, and quickly scramble-frying the egg, which is then removed and later cut into strips, to be returned to the wok with a final toss just before plating. The meat and garlic are then stirfried, the softened noodles stirred in, and the tamarind (or vinegar), sugar, and fish sauce added, constantly stirring, finishing with the scallions, peanuts, sprouts, radish/turnip, and egg.
          It yields 2 portions which I consider on a par with any of the many restaurant versions I've had.

        2. The reason why your homemade pad thai isn't as delicious as restaurant versions is because you probably can't get your wok (or skillet) hot enough at home to make proper pad thai.

          Couple of keys to making good pad thai: (1) a HOT wok and (2) preparing the sauce beforehand cooking the noodles in your HOT wok

          Try to find fresh noodles if you can, but if you use dried noodles don't oversoak.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Agree completely, and would add that you have to keep the wok hot, which means limiting the quantity of food you put into it based upon the output of your burner. If you're cooking on a typical residential stove, this may mean doing one serving at a time.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Another recipe link:


              She has a lot of good information about the origin of the dish and its variations.

              Disclosure: I've taken most of her classes and am a huge fan.