This is everyone’s favourite Thai dish, with its tangy, scorchy mix of noodles, egg, chilli and lime, and prawns or chicken for protein.
1 tbsp dried shrimps
200g dried rice stick noodles
3 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp tamarind puree or lime juice
1 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes or 1 tsp chilli sambal
1 tbsp shaved palm sugar or brown sugar
4 tbsp vegetable oil
250g boneless chicken thigh, sliced (or leftover roast chicken)
8-12 green prawns, peeled
3 shallots, finely sliced
100g smoked tofu, diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
10 garlic chives, chopped
200g beansprouts, rinsed and drained
1 cup coriander sprigs
2 tbsp roasted beer nuts or peanuts, lightly crushed
1 lime, quartered
Cover the dried shrimps in boiling water and soak for 30 minutes then drain, reserving two tablespoons of the water. Cover the noodles with hot tap water and leave for 20 minutes or until you can twirl a noodle around your finger. Drain and rinse.
Mix together the fish sauce, tamarind puree, tomato sauce, chilli flakes or sambal and sugar.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wide, flat-bottomed frypan. When hot, add the chicken, tossing well over high heat until it turns white. Add the prawns and fry briskly for one minute until just cooked. Transfer chicken and prawns to a bowl.
Add one tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the shallots, tofu and dried shrimps for 30 seconds. Add the noodles, tossing well.
Push the noodles to one side of the pan. Add the remaining one tablespoon of oil to the empty space and add beaten eggs. Let set a little then cover with noodles. Return the chicken and prawns to the pan, add the sauce mix, and most of the beansprouts and coriander. Toss well over high heat. Add the shrimp soaking water if dry.
Divide between warm plates, and scatter with remaining beansprouts and coriander, crushed peanuts and lime wedges. Serve with fork, spoon or if you prefer, with chopsticks.
■ Use a wide, flat-bottomed frypan rather than a wok. The wider surface area helps evaporate the liquid and stops the noodles going gummy.
■ Don't soak the noodles for too long or they will fall to pieces when cooked. Cover with hot tap water and leave for 20 minutes, until you can twirl a noodle around your finger.
■ Make friends with smoked tofu; it's a genius way to add smokiness to any stir-fry or noodle dish. Cut it into small dice so you get a bit in every mouthful.
■ The No. 1 rule of any stir-fry is to turn the heat up HIGH to get that streetwise char, sizzle and energy into your food. Keep everything moving by lifting the food constantly with two wooden spoons or paddles.
■ Do your prep. Get everything ready and pre-mix your sauces, because once you start cooking, it should be fast and furious and all over in four to five minutes.
Mix it up
■ To make pad Thai for vegans, swap the fish sauce for tamari, drop the egg and double the smoked tofu. Swap the protein for finely shredded carrot and 300 grams of purple cabbage, and scatter the dish with crushed cashews.
■ Pad Thai fried rice, anyone? Just fry up all the ingredients and sauce (except noodles) with cooked, cooled jasmine rice. Serve topped with shredded iceberg lettuce and loads of herbs and limes.
■ Turn pad Thai into a tangy, spicy soup. Fry a tablespoon of red or green curry paste in a pan, add coconut milk, chicken stock and chilli to form the base soup, then add noodles, fish, chicken or prawns and beansprouts and finish with fish sauce and lime juice.
■ Add crisp bacon, top with a fried egg and call it brunch. Or serve the noodles inside a folded golden omelette, striping the top with chilli sauce.
■ Pad Thai is very forgiving. If you don't have tamarind, use rice vinegar or lime juice. Use finely-sliced garlic instead of garlic chives. Swap rice-stick noodles for rice vermicelli or glass noodles. Dirty it up with soy sauce, kecap manis and chilli sambal.
■ Summer's coming. Make a pad Thai noodle salad by cooking the noodles, prawns and chicken ahead of time, cool then toss in a vinaigrette of rice vinegar, olive oil, shallots and brown sugar, with a stack of coriander, mint and basil. Serve with halved soft-boiled eggs and crisp fried shallots.
Also try: Jill Dupleix's vegan pad Thai