Shrimp Pad Thai
Betsy and I used to eat a lot of seafood when we lived in Washington, DC. We would frequently take Sunday trips down to the SW Waterfront and snack on some fresh oysters and get some really fresh fish for dinner.
Then we moved to a landlocked state!
We absolutely love Colorado, but it’s sometimes tough to find decent seafood in the area which is understandable.
Occasionally though, we splurge and get some nice seafood. It’s expensive so I try to use it wisely in dishes that extend the flavors.
This pad thai is what I did recently with some shrimp that turned out really great. The flavors are nice and fresh and just a few shrimp can make a really filling and delicious dinner.
Shrimp Pad Thai
Yield: Serves 4.
1 pound shrimp, cleaned
1/4 cup peanut oil, divided
3 tablespoons tamarind paste
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
3-4 large eggs
9 ounces rice noodles
2 tablespoons sesame oil (or peanut oil), for noodles
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup peanuts
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1) To clean shrimp, peel off the shell but leave the tails attached and use a sharp paring knife to slice down the back and remove the vein. Then rinse shrimp under cold water and put in a small bowl.
2) Mix together shrimp marinade ingredients and toss the shrimp in the marinade. Let sit for 10-15 minutes while you prep the other ingredients.
3) In a small saucepan, stir together 2 tablespoons peanut oil, tamarind paste, fish sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
4) Cook sauce over low heat until the tamarind paste dissolves and the mixture is hot. No need to bring to a simmer even. Remove from heat and set aside.
5) Cook rice noodles and then toss with 2 tablespoons of sesame oil to keep them from sticking.
6) Prep all the veggies, slice peppers thin, wash cilantro, chop peanuts, and whisk eggs so they are lightly scrambled.
7) Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, sear shrimp for about 2 minutes per side until they are just cooked through.
8) Remove shrimp from pan and add in eggs. Cook until lightly set, about 1-2 minutes.
9) Add in sauce, noodles, bean sprouts, peppers, and carrots. Cook for a few minutes so ingredients meld together.
10) Add in shrimp and toss.
11) Serve pad thai topped with peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges.
You can find shrimp that are pre-cleaned, but I actually like to get them uncleaned. This might be untrue, but I feel like shrimp stay fresher if they aren’t cleaned.
Plus they aren’t too hard to clean on your own. Basically, just peel off the shell and leave on the tail, then use a sharp paring knife to slice down the back of the shrimp, exposing the vein.
Rinse them under cold water so the vein comes out and your done! I like to use larger shrimp so for a meal I generally only have to clean 12-15 shrimp.
For this recipe, I just mixed together a quick marinade to give the shrimp some flavor. Basically, I just used the same stuff that ends up going into the pad thai sauce.
The sauce for a pad thai is really important. Ideally, it shouldn’t be really thick, but should have lots of tang and some sweetness to it.
These five things will get you there!
Basically just mix those ingredients together in a small saucepan over low heat with some red pepper flakes and crushed garlic.
The heat is just necessary to help the tamarind paste dissolve. There’s no need to even bring it to a simmer or anything. Just heat it until the paste is dissolved and then remove it from the heat.
Besides the shrimp, you just need a few ingredients to pull this pad thai together.
First, you need lots of crunchy veggies.
These should do the trick, but you could also fold in some crunchy cabbage if you wanted.
Noodles are obviously important also.
Betsy and I disagreed on the noodles for this version. She really liked the thin rice noodles, but I think I would’ve liked a thicker noodle which is more traditional for a pad thai.
It really doesn’t matter at the end of the day. Use whatever noodle you like!
If you’re using rice noodles, after you cook and drain them, toss them with some sesame oil or peanut oil to keep them from sticking together.
Cooking the dish
This dish takes about ten minutes to cook. It’s quick and pretty straightforward.
Because everything happens really fast, be sure to have everything ready to go. You don’t want to be mixing your sauce while your shrimp are cooking. Everything should be cooked and sliced and ready.
Then add a few tablespoons of peanut oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Then toss in your shrimp and sear them for about two minutes per side. That should be long enough to cook them.
The last thing you want to do is overcook the shrimp! Overcooked shrimp get kind of tough.
Once the shrimp are done, remove them from the dish.
Next, add the scrambled eggs to the pan. They will cook almost instantly. Another change I made to this recipe was to up the egg count a bit. I only used two eggs in my version and Betsy and I both agreed it needed more egg.
Anyway though, add your egg to the pan and it will pretty much instantly cook.
Then toss in the noodles, sauce, and veggies.
Cook for another minute or two so the sauce reduces and the coats everything evenly.
Again, this is all over medium high heat so stuff is cooking quickly.
Once everything is done, stir in the shrimp and toss them to coat them with the sauce.
Your pad thai is done!
Again, from when your shrimp first hit the pan to when the dish is done is maybe 10 minutes. It’s a fast meal.
Serve this stuff right away topped with cilantro, peanuts, and some limes.
The acid from the limes really makes all the flavors come alive.
I love this meal.
This is a quick meal to cook and actually pretty healthy.
It has interesting and unique flavors but is pretty light actually.
This dish wasn’t as good on day two just because it’s pretty hard to reheat shrimp perfectly, but it was still pretty tasty. The flavors were still good.
There is a few ingredients in this dish that you may not have, but assuming you can find them, the dish itself isn’t really hard to make. Give it a shot if you want to explore some delicious Asian flavors!