Chicken Pad Thai
1 package flat, wide rice noodles
6 to 8 tablespoons fish sauce
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons tamarind paste/concentrate
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of paprika
10 to 12 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
4 large eggs
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped roughly
1 cup bean sprouts
1 lime, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped roughly
Red pepper flakes
In a large container, preferably one with a lid, soak the noodles in cold water, enough to cover so that no noodle is poking out. Soak for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours. It can be refrigerated, or not—it doesn’t matter.
In a shallow bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, rice vinegar, tamarind concentrate, and sugar until smooth. Taste. Adjust the sauce as needed. Add a pinch of paprika or cayenne powder for color. You’ll only need about 1/2 cup of sauce for this recipe . Any extra sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to three months—and/or used on leftovers to spruce them up during reheating. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
Arrange them near your stove. You’ll prepare each batch completely, one after the next.
Heat a wok or other large pan with high sides over high heat, which you will maintain throughout cooking the pad Thai. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil. When the oil starts to shimmer a bit, it’s ready. Crack the eggs for this batch into the pan, and using the tip of a wooden spoon, gently loosen the yolk. You want to have enough oil in the pan so it looks as though the egg is floating, or suspended, in the oil. This gives you more surface area to cook the egg without it burning. Gently shake and flip the egg around in the pan. Break it up a bit with the spoon, but don’t scramble it by any means. This should take about a minute. Push the eggs off to the side of the pan to make room for the chicken.
If the pan seems too dry because the eggs have absorbed all of the oil , add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of oil to the pan. Add the chicken for this batch. Cook the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes, turning to make sure it cooks most of the way through.
Take several handfuls of your noodles out of the water they’re soaking in, and transfer to a fine mesh sieve. Hold the sieve over the pot of hot water and gently dip the noodles up and down, in and out of the water, to soften them but not cook them per se. Shake out the excess hot water and taste to make sure the noodles have softened but still have a little give.
Transfer the noodles to the hot pan; they don’t need to be completely cooked at this point, because they will continue to cook in the wok. Toss them gently in the pan and stir them briefly to keep them from sticking together. When the noodles look shiny, it’s time for the sauce.
Add about 1/4 cup of the sauce to the pan, and gently toss and flip the noodles in the pan. Stir them quickly to integrate the sauce; you’ll know it’s ready when you can’t see any more sauce in the pan because the noodles have absorbed it. If it seems like it needs more, add a little more, and cook until it’s absorbed. Taste.
Add the peanuts and the sprouts, and toss all ingredients together quickly. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes altogether until everything is heated through. The noodles will begin to soften and look more translucent.
Turn the heat off the pan and taste the to make sure there is enough sauce to flavor the dish. Serve immediately in individual bowls with wedges of lime, along with additional peanuts, chopped cilantro, and/or red pepper flakes, if desired. Repeat steps 5 through 11 for making the second batch of pad Thai.