Asian-American Shrimp Pad Thai


8 oz medium or large flat rice noodles
1 lb wild caught medium shrimp, thawed if from frozen, shelled, and deveined
3 t cornstarch, divided use
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 T fresh lime juice
2 T soy sauce
1 T ketchup
1/4 cup palm sugar
1 T brown sugar
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 t crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/8 t ground white pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup water
4 T peanut oil, divided use
1 1/2 T garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 large eggs beaten
2 cups bean sprouts
4 scallions, sliced
2 t sesame oil
1/2 – 3/4 cup lightly smashed unsalted dry roasted peanuts
2 T cilantro
1 lime quartered
hot chile oil to taste

Spoon Mage™ Note:

This recipe makes 4-6 servings, depending upon how many other dishes are being served with it. Don’t worry about the long ingredient list. Pad Thai is an easy dish to make!

Why is this Asian-American and not just Asian? Because it does not use tamarind paste (which adds flavor and some acidity) and the palm sugar is optional (see next paragraph). Then there is an ingredient that is distinctly American – ketchup. Please do, if you can, use a product with no HFCS. Simply Heinz is my choice. The ketchup is there to serve as background flavor with the extra acidity coming from the rice wine vinegar. If you make the sauce that way you do not need tamarind paste… but don’t tell any of your Thai friends I said that. If you want to try using tamarind paste and want to make it yourself, this video is terrific for showing you the authentic Thai method.

Palm sugar is not available everywhere, but no worries. You can sub in three tablespoons of white sugar and one tablespoon of brown sugar and it will be tasty as can be. Palm sugar is often sold in little round cakes. Just grate what you need.

As with all meals that are wokked, it is important to prep every ingredient before starting to wok. Also, yes – start the wok on high and only reduce to medium high to prevent smoking.

The goal of this, and many other Asian dishes, is to make a perfect blend of sweet, salty, and sour flavors. So do taste the sauce (before adding the cornstarch) and make any adjustment you wish to bring the flavors to the point where they suit you.


Prep: Boil a full tea kettle of water and pour the hot water over the noodles. Make sure that the noodles are all under the water. Let the noodles sit undisturbed for 15 minutes or until softened, and then drain. Rub the shrimp with 2 t cornstarch. In a small bowl, mix fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, ketchup, sugar, rice wine vinegar, crushed red pepper and white pepper. Stir well to break up as much of the ketchup lumps as you can. Taste and adjust to balance the sweet, sour, and salty flavors. Stir in 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, stirring several times afterwards to let the palm sugars do their thing. Set out the peanut oil. Measure and/or prep the garlic, shallot, eggs, bean sprouts, scallions, sesame oil, peanuts, cilantro, lime wedges, and hot chile oil.

Now set everything out on the counter in order of appearance. If you have cats, put the shrimps in the microwave or other covered container next to you. Trust me.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a wok that has been preheated on high and is now as hot as it can be. After adding the oil, wait 30 seconds for the oil to get hot. Remember – every time you add an ingredient to a wok, the temperature briefly reduces, how long depends upon the ingredient.

Add the garlic and shallot, stir constantly for about 20 seconds – do not let the garlic brown.

Add shrimp (this is why you kept it close by so I hope you set it out) and stir for about 2-3 minutes or until the shrimps turn pink. You can see and smell when this happens.

Give the sauce another stir and add it to the shrimp. The sauce will quickly come to a boil. This is good for the noodles.

Add the drained noodles and toss gently with the two wok spoons for 2 minutes, until the noodles are covered with the liquid, and begin to absorb a little of the sauce. Do not let the noodles become dry.

Reduce heat to medium-high if you haven’t already and pour the noodles into a large bowl, or you may use the serving platter.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut oil to the wok, swirl, and add the beaten eggs. Let them sit a few seconds to begin to set. Then stir gently with a cutting motion to scramble and break them up a little into large chunks.

Return the noodles to the pan (right on top of the eggs), add the bean sprouts and scallions, stir for a minute to mix well, and pour onto the platter.

Drizzle with sesame oil and garnish with the peanuts and cilantro. Serve with scallions, more cilantro, the lime wedges, and hot chile oil. Enjoy!

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