It’s time for a recipe! This week, we’re celebrating Pad Thai (or, Kway Teow Pad Thai) – Thailand’s best-known speciality dish. Immensely famous worldwide, Pad Thai is unlike most Westernised Asian food in that it has remained fairly close to its roots. In Thailand, it is traditionally bought from street-food vendors, who sell nothing else and have perfected their recipes with years of experience. These guys are considered artists in their field – and for good reason!
Pad Thai’s popularity is attributed to a push in the 1930s by Thai authorities to modernise and ‘westernise’ the country, but the dish itself may actually be Chinese in origin. Thought to have arrived in Thailand with settlers crossing from Southern China, with noodles and stir-frying being Chinese culinary practices, the dish evolved with distinctly Thai flavours into the dish we can’t get enough of today – salty and sour, sweet and spicy with a mouth-watering crunch from the peanuts and beansprouts.
Traditionally made with water, palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind juice cooked down into a thick syrup, stir fried alongside shrimp, tofu, beansprouts and peanuts, our recipe skips the shrimp, subs out the fish sauce, sweetens with dates and swaps half the noodles for spiralized vegetables to make this comfort food a little more health conscious and ethical. Switch out all of the noodles for veggies for extra brownie points – for an even healthier version, check out The Green Moustache’s raw, whole, vegan version – their recipe is a closely guarded secret, but it’ll leave you glowing!
For the stir fry
A handful of stir-fry rice noodles
2 garlic cloves
A little vegetable oil, for frying
1 chopped shallot
1 carrot and 1 zucchini, spiralised (or any vegetable you like!)
2 handfuls of beansprouts
For the sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1tbsp tamarind paste
2tbsp lime juice
¼ cup organic soy sauce (mushroom soy sauce is best)
¼ cup date paste (1/4 cup soaked dates pureed with ¼ cup hot water)
1 sprinkle red pepper flakes (add more if you like the heat)
2 chopped spring onions
What to do
- Cover noodles with boiling water and let sit, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes
- Mix together brown sugar, vinegar, lime juice, tamarind paste, soy sauce and chilli flakes
- In a non-stick pan, stir fry the shallot and garlic in a little oil until fragrant, then throw in the noodles and the sauce and stir
- Stir frequently until noodles are almost done and the sauce has thickened, then throw in the spiralized veggies
- Keep stirring until veggies are softened to your liking (Personally, the crunchier the better!) then once almost done add in the beansprouts – you want the sprouts to keep their crunch
- Stir for a minute or two then throw in spring onions and chopped nuts, then serve sprinkled with cilantro and with lime wedges on the side.
Photo credit: Anastasia Chomlack Photography