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Best Ever Shrimp Pad Thai

Author: Adapted from Sizzling Skillets by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients

  • 8 oz dried Thai rice noodles
  • 1 ½ lbs large shrimp (I used a 16-20 count)
  • 3 tbs fish sauce, plus more to taste
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tbs tamarind concentrate
  • 4 tbs canola or vegetable oil, divided
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 oz fried tofu (or if you can’t find it/don’t want to make it, just use regular firm or extra-firm tofu), cut into small dice
  • cup minced shallot
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs minced dried shrimp
  • 1 serrano chile, not seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cups bean sprouts, optional (I say optional because when I first started attempting Pad Thai at home there was a recall on bean sprouts so I couldn’t include them, and we never missed them, so I frequently don’t now even when I can)
  • Chopped roasted salted peanuts, for garnish
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Thinly sliced green onions, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Instructions

  • Soak the rice noodles in warm water for 40 minutes or until softened. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  • Prep the shrimp. Peel and devein the shrimp. Remove the tails as well. Using a sharp paring knife, cut the shrimp in half lengthwise, through the “spine” where you removed the vein. Set shrimp aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, brown sugar, and tamarind concentrate. Set aside.
  • Heat a wok over medium-high heat. When hot, add 2 tbs oil, then the shrimp. Cook the shrimp just until cooked through, stirring constantly. Remove to a bowl. Add the remaining 2 tbs oil, then lower the heat to medium. Add the tofu, shallot, garlic, dried shrimp, and serrano. Cook, stirring, until the tofu is heated through and the shallot starts to wilt, about 2 minutes. Push the veggies to one side, then add the beaten egg to the space you made. Don’t touch for about 10 seconds, then basically scramble them for about a minute, maybe less. When they are almost set, quickly stir them in with the tofu mixture. Immediately add the noodles and shrimp, then the fish sauce mixture. Stir vigorously until everything is coated with the sauce. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the fish sauce and tamarind concentrate as necessary. If using, add your bean sprouts here and toss to combine.
  • Pile the Pad Thai into serving bowls and garnish with the peanuts, cilantro, and scallions. Squeeze lime over if you want.

Notes

Recipe is adapted from Sizzling Skillets by Emeril Lagasse. I will not bore you with my thoroughly unremarkable white lady NYC transplant story, but those are the origins in which I find myself a huge fan of Pad Thai. I frequently order it in Thai restaurants, and then decided I needed to learn how to make it myself. Now, Pad Thai is like pizza or sex, in that it’s always good, even when it’s bad. But I still wanted it perfect. Meaning the Pad Thai. After many false starts over many years, none of which went uneaten, I used Emeril’s recipe as a jumping off point to achieve my perfect version of Shrimp Pad Thai (yes, I prefer shrimp to chicken, and chicken to beef). The biggest problem with Shrimp Pad Thai is the shrimp. If they are small enough to be bite-size and manageable, then they’re overcooked. If they are large enough to stay plump and juicy, then they are large enough to be a pain to eat politely. You fix this problem by taking large shrimp, peeling and deveining plus removing the tails, then slicing them in half lengthwise, through the back slit. They cook quickly but stay the perfect texture, but they are easy to maneuver with chopsticks. I changed up Emeril’s egg technique, simply because I’d never seen it before and it creates all this unnecessary work by having you essentially make a frittata and slicing it and who needs that crap? Be normal with your eggs. Emeril calls for fried tofu, and as a tofu hater myself, this is a godsend. You can use normal tofu if you’d rather, just make sure you get firm or extra-firm. This is my favorite version of Pad Thai so far, and it’s not close. The noodles are lightly sauced, not gloppy and soupy, and the tofu is scant and crispy. I hope you love it as much as we do.