Although pad Thai is well known to tourists, and so expected on the menu at every Thai restaurant in the west, the dish is actually not all that common in Thailand. You will find stalls that sell it and Thais do enjoy pad Thai once in a while, but the dish is not nearly as common as many westerners think. It is very much a street food, and perhaps a good example of a strange sort of snobbishness about food. Some things, it seems, just belong on the streets, and are almost never found in restaurants.
The recipe most typically uses prawns, although it can also be made with pork, chicken or beef. You can also try using fettuccine in place of rice noodles. The most difficult ingredient to find in the west is usually the garlic chives. These resemble spring onions, except that the stalks are flat rather than round and hollow. If you can't find chives, you can use spring onions instead. Most recipes also call for a type of tofu that is semi-dried. In markets, they can appear to be discs of leather. As you're unlikely to be able to find these, I've left them out.
|Narrow rice noodles||150 g|
|Prawns, skinned||6 Pieces|
|Vegetable oil||3 Tbsp|
|Shallots||1 Tbsp, sliced|
|Garlic||1 Tbsp, chopped|
|Palm sugar||2 Tbsp|
|Tamarind paste||2 Tbsp|
|Fish sauce||2 Tbsp|
|Bean sprouts||70 g|
|Garlic chives or spring onions||15 g, cut in 2 inch long segments td>|
|Ground peanuts||2 Tbsp|
|Ground pepper||2 tsp|
|Bean sprouts||40 g|
|Spring onions||10 g|
If using dried rice noodles, soak them in warm water for 2 to 3 minutes or until they're soft and pliable. Drain the noodles and set aside.
Heat a wok over medium flame. Add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and when hot stir-fry shallots and garlic until they are fragrant. Add the prawns and cook through. Add palm sugar, tamarind paste and fish sauce and stir-fry until softened slightly. Add the rice noodles and stir-fry until the noodles have absorbed the seasoning.
Push the mixture to one side. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and when hot scramble the egg in the hot oil. When set, mix the egg in with the other cooked items. Add in the bean sprouts and green onions, and warm through.
Transfer the cooked noodles to a serving plate and sprinkle the ground peanuts and black pepper over the top. Serve with the garnish on the side or in separate bowls.