Easy 15-Minute Pad Thai With a Pinch of Friendship

What’s for dinner never sounded this promising

Photo by emy on Unsplash

I believe in setting realistic expectations for myself. As a mum, it is especially important. I have been telling my kids forever that I am not big on cooking, that if they want real chicken soup or meatballs they should ask grandma — and they did exactly that. I let go of trying to prove that motherhood has to mean being a chef as well, and you might know that cooking for kids is the least rewarding thing you can do (unless you are crazy about french fries and fish fingers) and I am single, there is no one to cook for.

I admit I had an attitude about cooking. I refused to do it because it brought me zero pleasure, only frustration. Also, I have been struggling with healthy choices due to a very committed weight loss journey, and the less I cooked, the easier it was to stay away from potential bad choices.

This year I decided to change my attitude and I embarked on a year of monthly food challenges, meaning that I learn to cook a new dish each month for an entire year. I was picking dishes that I love and I usually need to order them to enjoy them or that I usually eat when I am travelling.

In April, my dish of choice was Pad Thai, which is one of my favourite dishes — to order. I never thought I would be capable of making it or making a good one. I also — mistakenly — believed that it’s a complicated dish with tons of inaccessible ingredients.

My friend’s birthday was the perfect excuse to celebrate her with some amazing food — and I only hoped that it will turn out to be amazing.
Spoiler alert: it was way better than I imagined, and a lot simpler than I expected.

We spent an amazing evening, strengthened our friendship with the great food, a few glasses of delicious rosé champagne and I had to realize yet again that I actually love cooking if there is someone to appreciate it.

Eating with others can be magical, and the secret ingredient here was friendship, love and appreciation for each other. And we ordered fries for the kids so that no external pressure could ruin the experience.

Basically, preparing pad thai is very easy, and with some preparation, you can get it done within 15 minutes. The key steps you will need:

  1. prepare the pad thai sauce
  2. prepare the protein of choice (chicken, shrimp or tofu) and cut the vegetables
  3. whisk the eggs
  4. soak the noodles in hot water

And then, you just stir fry them all together. And, done! Let’s see how…

The Sauce

This is the heart of the whole dish, it gives a balanced sweet, sour and salty taste. You can use store-bought pad thai paste if you want to skip it.

Ingredients to whisk together in a bowl:

  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce,
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce,
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar or honey,
  • 1–2 teaspoons of tamarind paste mixed with 2 teaspoons of water

The protein

You can make it with chicken, shrimp or tofu — depending on which one you prefer. Take 6–8 ounces, 150–200g.

How to cook the protein:

  • Chicken: slice the chicken very thinly, add salt and pepper. Fry it in a wok with hot oil, until cooked through — use medium-high heat. Set aside.
  • Tofu: Cut tofu into small cubes, add salt and pepper, fry it in the wok throwing it into the hot oil. Set aside.
  • Shrimp: Peel and add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Fry it in hot oil until golden brown. Set aside.

The vegetables

This is the best part, and so easy. You can make the whole dish without protein, adding courgettes, broccoli or bell peppers.

How to prep the veggies:

  • One large onion or shallot — finely diced.
  • Chopped garlic — 4 cloves.
  • Grated ginger — 1 teaspoon (or more) Did you know you can peel the ginger best with a teaspoon instead of a knife?
  • If you add other vegetables, chop them too, into small bites — not too small, not too big, they should fit in your mouth.

The eggs and the noodles

  • Just whisk two eggs and add some salt. Set aside.
  • Soak 4 ounces (100g) rice noodles (not vermicelli, but the wider one that is also called rice sticks) in hot water for 6 minutes. It shouldn’t get too soft, as we will keep on cooking it in the wok too.

How to make it?

Now that you have everything prepared, close to the stove: the sauce, the protein, the veggies, the eggs and the noodles. So let’s do this:

  1. Heat up some oil in the wok.
  2. Add the garlic and the ginger. Stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the whisked eggs to the garlic and ginger and make it as you would scramble the eggs. Break them into bits.
  4. Add the onion to the egg-garlic-ginger mixture. (If you add other veggies, now would be the time)
  5. Add the noodles and stir them, turn them, mix them with the eggs. Fry them for 3–4 minutes.
  6. Add the pad thai sauce and cook for a minute.
  7. Add the protein.

Garnish it

We are ready, divide it onto two plates, and add some further things to make it even better:

  • add some bean sprouts,
  • sprinkle it with chilli flakes (optional),
  • add some cilantro or chopped basil (looks amazing and smells amazing),
  • squeeze some lime juice over it, and add lime wedges to
  • add some roasted crushed peanuts to make it crunchy too.
The result!

Shopping list

  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of sugar or honey, 1–2 teaspoons of tamarind paste mixed with 2 teaspoons of water for the pad thai sauce.
  • 6–8 ounces, 150–200g of protein (chicken, tofu or shrimp)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • 4 ounces, 100g rice noodles
  • bean sprouts, chilli flakes, lime, cilantro or basil, crushed roasted peanuts to garnish
  • salt, pepper, oil

Enjoy!

Want some more? Let’s stay in touch!

Writer. Dreamer. Hopeless romantic. Newsletter: zita.substack.com Email me: zitafontaine (at) gmail

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