Thai Noodles (Pad Thai)

Pad Thai for a Party

As Panee Muncharoen, from Panomsarakham villiage (3 hours east of Bangkok) in Chacheongsao province, taught Lindsay Sterling, in Brunswick, ME, in 2008

Serves 8-10

5 garlic cloves

1 medium yellow onion

6 scallions

1 c sliced cabbage

1 chicken breast

6 eggs

1 lb. rice sticks (wide, translucent fettucini size noodles made out of rice)

½ cup oil

½ cup fish sauce (She used Oyster brand)

½ cup vinegar

½ cup sugar

dash cayenne pepper

large handful mung bean sprouts + more for garnishing plates

½ c. dry roasted unsalted peanuts

large handful cilantro leaves

fresh mung bean sprouts

1 lime

Note on equipment: You’ll need a 12” iron skillet or equally large wok to make this recipe for 8-10 people. If you don’t have a giant saute pan like this, use two deep fry pans at once and split ingredients between them, or simply split recipe in half.

1. Prep all the ingredients in little bowls and dishes near your stove, so you’re ready to go because you’ll need everything ready and on hand for the stir frying part. You can do all the prep in this step the day before, storing everything in separate containers covered in fridge, so you can cook for a party after work. So, the prep: cut chicken breast into ½-inch bite size pieces. Slice 1 cup of cabbage (about1/4 inch thick). Thinly slice yellow onion. Slice 6 scallions into ¼ inch rounds keeping the green and white parts in separate piles/dishes. With the side of a chef knife or cleaver, smash 5 garlic cloves and mince. Put a handful of dry roasted, unsalted peanuts on a cutting board and roll a rolling pin over them until they are the size of small gems. Put your bean sprouts in a colander, put the colander in a large mixing bowl and fill with water. Let soak for a couple minutes, pull colander out (draining sprouts). Do that again. Fully drain before storing with paper towel at bottom of container or large ziplock.

2. Boil 1 package (1lb) rice sticks just as you would spaghetti, only cook them for ONE MINUTE so the noodles in the strainer still have some stiffness. Run cold water over them in the strainer. You don’t want your pad Thai to be mushy. It will be if your noodles are “cooked” at this point. They will finish cooking in the liquids we add to them in the next step.

3. Now your going to do the stir fry part. Panee has spent twenty years tweaking this recipe so that it’s easy to cook and know by heart. Notice all the amounts you need to measure at this point are ½. Heat ½ c. canola oil in large iron skillet on medium high, and add garlic, yellow onion, and the whites of the scallion. After a minute, add the cabbage. After another minute, add the chicken and stir/cook until chicken is cooked through. Add the eggs and scramble them right in with everything in the pan. When the eggs are cooked (opaque light yellow), add the noodles and stir in one after the next: ½ c. fish sauce, ½ c. distilled white vinegar, ½ c. sugar. Sprinkle entire top surface lightly with cayenne, add scallion greens, peanuts and 1lb fresh mung bean sprouts and stir. When noodles are cooked, but not soggy or mushy, take off heat; top with a handful of fresh cilantro leaves. Serve with lime wedges, and condiment dishes of more crushed peanuts, extra cilantro, and the cayenne for individuals to increase heat.

Substitutions and additions for Pad Thai

Once you know how to cook pad Thai, you actually know how to cook at least 6 Thai dishes. You can add snow peas for one, use basil instead of cilantro for another, shrimp instead of chicken, shallots instead of yellow onion, use no egg, use more egg, use tofu only instead of shrimp or chicken, etc.

What makes Pad Thai, Pad Thai?

Once you start substituting things, you might wonder, what makes pad Thai pad Thai? Indeed there are many many ways to do this dish, including using ingredients not seen here like tamarind, palm sugar, and sweet pickled radish. The definition of this dish, as Panee and I, discussed, is this: It’s a fried rice-noodle dish, with variable ingredients, but it must have the equal combination of sour/tangy (vinegar, sometimes tamarind), sweet (sugar, sometimes palm sugar), salty (fish sauce). Additionally there is a spicy hot component (cayenne, sometimes birds eye chilis) that can vary in degree.

Panee recommends, once you have Pad Thai down, serving these additional dishes at your party.

Side salad


Mixed with winter greens (fresh chard or new kale?)

Apple slices

Oil and vinegar


Prik Nam Pla

1 Thai Bird chili (also called birds eye), sliced into thin rounds,

¼ c fish sauce

juice of lime

Cooked shrimp dish

Peel and devein shrimp or buy them that way.

Stir fry in oil til just opaque throughout, add a dash of oyster sauce at end.

Throw in some cashews if you want. Garnish the bowl of shrimp with a bouquet of basil stems.

Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2010