This is such a simple classic, but when it's good, it's just so delicious. Making a good tamarind sauce first is the real key to creating a great base flavour. This recipe evolved out of a brief holiday in Thailand. We had a brilliant local chef cook for us a number of times and I picked his brains as often as I could. This is my version of the pad Thai he made.
Secret's in the sauce: Karen Martini's pad Thai. Photo: Marcel Aucar
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120ml vegetable oil
3 eggs, whisked
200g firm tofu, diced
3 tbsp whole dried shrimp
4 tbsp chopped, salted pickled radish (also called turnip)
12 green prawn cutlets, deveined and cut in half lengthways
500g fresh rice noodles
3 large handfuls beansprouts
4 tbsp ground roasted salted peanuts
1/2 bunch garlic chives, cut into 4cm batons
1 handful coriander leaves, to serve
sliced red chilli steeped in rice vinegar, to serve (optional)
For tamarind sauce
3 long red chillies
5 large red shallots
3 tbsp tamarind concentrate
150g palm sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1. For the tamarind sauce, blend the chillies and eschalots with 2 tablespoons of water until you have a smooth paste.
2. Add the chilli paste to a small saucepan over medium heat and cook for a minute or two until it mostly dries out. Add the tamarind concentrate, palm sugar, fish sauce and 150 millilitres of water and cook for four to five minutes, or until it has a thick and saucy consistency. Remove from the heat.
3. Heat a wok until it is very hot, add half the oil and heat until starting to shimmer. Add the egg and stir through as it fries. Remove from the wok and drain on a paper towel.
4. Add the remaining oil to the wok and heat through. Add the tofu and stir-fry until it starts to brown. Add the dried shrimp and radish and quickly stir through. Add the prawns and stir-fry for two minutes.
5. Loosen the noodles with your fingers and add to the wok with about 150 millilitres of water. Stir through gently so as not to break up the noodles. Cook for two minutes.
6. Add half the tamarind sauce, the beansprouts, egg and half of the peanuts and stir through. Cook for another 30 seconds and then stir in the garlic chives.
7. Serve immediately, garnished with coriander and the remaining peanuts, with the chilli in rice vinegar on the side (if using). The leftover tamarind sauce will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
1. Salted, pickled radish is a bit of a secret ingredient in Thai cooking. It adds a flavour that's pretty hard to put your finger on, but really enhances the complexity of a dish. Ask for it at your Asian grocer.
2. Tamarind concentrate is generally available from Asian grocers and is a lot easier to use than making a puree from scratch.
3. Try to find thin, fresh rice noodles for stir-frying, rather than broader noodles, as they tend to not break up as much in the wok.