Pad thai is a very popular stir-fried noodle dish from Thailand – it’s only been around since the 1940’s, and it was created as part of a national identity campaign back in the day.
This is the closest I’ve come to a proper, authentic pad thai. Well, ok, I have done one thing that would definitely get a raised eyebrow from any Thai: I’ve replaced the dried shrimps with… *drumroll*… bonito flakes (Japanese dried tuna flakes)!!! Ok, hear me out before you throw down the towel in protest! Dried shrimp adds a slightly smoky and fishy dimension to your pad thai. It’s a very important factor in getting the pad thai right. Yet, I find that it creates a balance problem: get a bite with a dried shrimp, and you have lots of salty, fishy flavour in your mouth. Get a bite without dried shrimp, and the fishiness is only super subtle. Bonito flakes are the genius way to solve this: they seemingly “dissolve” into your pad thai, infusing the whole dish with a smoky, fishiness, without any bits. I think it’s seriously marvelous!
Over to the rest. DO NOT SKIP READING THIS IF YOU WANT TO MAKE THE PERFECT PAD THAI!
There’s a few rules that need to be followed when making pad thai. If you stick to them, you’re set to go. No cheating!
1) First of all, you need to have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go. Once you start, there’s no way you’ll have the time to do last-minute chopping.
2) Second of all, you can always ever make one portion at a time. Don’t even try to make two portions of pad thai at once – it will most definitely be doomed to failure. You see, the secret to pad thai is frying your noodles on a super high heat – quickly! If you add too many ingredients, the temperature will drop, and your pad thai become a lame version of what it could be. If you want to make pad thai for more people, make a big batch of sauce, and always only add about 6 tablespoons of sauce per portion. Fry the portions in batches, wiping clean your wok in between (if it stays full of sticky, burnt bits, you may need to rinse the wok).
3) Which leads me to my third point: for it to work, your wok needs to be as hot as can be – at smoking point. This is best achieved on a gas hob, or, if you must, on induction (but I doubt it will properly work). Good luck trying it on an electric hob – I have no idea if it will work, do let me know if you try. So, get your wok smoking and then constantly stir your noodles, and let them develop a slightly smoky flavour– down to something funnily called the wok’s breath (it’s so hot it lightly chars the content).
Ok, you’re now briefed and ready to go! Have fun and enjoy!