It's been years since I had Pad Thai because it's been years since I found a restaurant that actually made good Pad Thai. All the ones in this area serve a dumbed down Americanized Pad Thai. Pity. I love the interplay of tamarind, palm sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce that gives Pad Thai it's wonderful flavor, the flavor that is missing in many restaurant versions of the dish.
|Mise en Place for Pad Thai|
The rice noodles need to be soaked, but not all that long. Start them soaking before prepping the rest of the ingredients and you will be fine. I buy tamarind pulp in blocks, then rip off a chunk, soak it in warm water, and then work it well with my hands to separate the pulp from the seeds. I strain the pulp to make sure I have got all the seeds out.
I like to make my sauce separately from my noodles, because palm sugar is nearly rock hard and in the time that it takes to dissolve into the sauce, the noodles would be overcooked. I melt about equal quantities of tamarind pulp and palm sugar together and then add a little sriracha for heat. Traditionally, ground red pepper is used but I find that the liquid sriracha mixes into the sauce better. I adjust the sweet-sour balance according to my taste and then add a little fish sauce to get the salty component to my liking.
Then it is just a matter of stir-frying from here. First go in the ingredients that you want to really sear or caramelize such as the peanuts and shallots and then each item in its turn according to cooking time, save for the soaked noodles which go in next to last. Last in the pan are some of the sauce and an egg that gets scrambled in as I sprinkle in a bit more fish sauce and white pepper. Done.