I tried for over a decade to crack the pad thai code. I tasted countless plates of it at different restaurants, and my favourite was always pad thai from the (now long gone) Boua Thai restaurant. I could never recreate the tangy, spicy, sweet flavour in quite the same way. I could never get the texture of the noodles right. I tried using coconut milk, making a peanut sauce, using rice wine vinegar, cooking sherry, the "vegetarian fish sauce" they sell at the Asian supermarket (two words: never again). I never got it right. Internet research was almost entirely useless because EVERYONE has their own version of pad thai and they can vary widely in ingredients and proportions! I thought I was doomed to having to buy it every time I got a hankering, and that is what I did.
Until one day a couple of years ago, I finally got up the nerve to ask at my new favourite local thai place, Sabai Thai, what it is that makes their pad thai so tangy? The answer? Tamarind paste. DUH! And so after some more messing around with proportions and cooking techniques, I've finally got it down pat. I've made this version a dozen times since developing it, so you can rest assured it will work for you.
( Recipe after the jump.Collapse )