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Pad Thai with Shrimp

4 Servings

1 hour

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Across Bangkok, we tasted more than a dozen versions of pad Thai to understand the iconic noodle stir-fry and find a way to make the dish doable in American home kitchens, complete with its enticing spicy-sour-salty-sweet profile. Based on lessons from numerous Thai cooks, we developed a recipe that delivers fantastic results—perfectly balanced flavors and the layers of contrasting textures that define great pad Thai. Suwan Pimtatong, cook at Hot Shoppe Restaurant, showed us how to build complexity and umami richness without the use of dried shrimp, a common pad Thai ingredient that isn’t always easy to source in U.S. supermarkets. Additionally, we were able to achieve nuances of wok hei, or the hard-to-describe and even more difficult to attain (on a home cooktop) hints of smokiness that come from stir-frying in a wok over a raging-hot fire. The key is to add ingredients in batches to prevent the temperature of the wok from dropping precipitously. A few pointers for success: A 12- to 14-inch wok is essential, ideally one made of carbon steel that is well seasoned and conducts heat quickly. Use a neutral oil with a high smoke point; grapeseed or safflower is a good choice. Each time oil is heated in the empty wok, be sure it is smoking-hot before adding any ingredients. Use the cooking times as guidelines, don’t take them as scripture, as burner output and heat-conduction properties of woks can differ greatly. Finally, be sure to have all ingredients and equipment, including a serving dish, ready before you head to the stovetop. Once cooking begins, it demands your full attention and is done in a matter of minutes.




Don’t oversoak the noodles. They should be softened to the point of limpness, which takes about 30 minutes, but far from fully tender. If the noodles are too soft when they go into the wok, they may break during stir-frying and/or wind up overcooked. If you’re not yet ready to stir-fry when the noodles are done soaking, not to worry. Drained of their water, they can wait to be used. If they begin to stick together, simply give them a quick rinse under cold water and drain again.

1 hour


  • 10

    ounces ¼-inch-wide rice noodle sticks

  • 2

    tablespoons tamarind pulp


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John H.
February 19, 2023
Great dish
Daughter and her Husband loved this. Did not have Tamarind so used Sumac and it turned out good. Will be making this one again. It does work better if all ingredients are ready a head of time.
Tom T.
February 14, 2023
Tamarind Pulp recommendation
I've scoured the internet, but can't find the tamarind pulp (Tamarin me Chua) recommended in the article. Can you recommend another brand?
Joshua L.
November 8, 2022
Great meal!
As long as you get all the prep work done ahead of time, this dish comes together quickly and beautifullly. I would dare to say that it tastes just like the pad thai dishes I have had at Thai restaurants!
Denis P.
October 3, 2022
Can I use tamarind concentrate?
Is tamarind concentrate an acceptable substitute for the pulp?
Joseph V.
September 17, 2022
This was great
This was fantastic! Never going to get take-out again.