So, I hate to disappoint you, but the orange gooey mass of noodles that we call Pad Thai here in the U.S. is not true Pad Thai. Shocking, right? We sampled Pad Thai in almost every Thai city we visited (for about $1 on the street and seriously some of the best food you’ve ever had) and found it to be pretty consistent across the country. It is much milder in flavor than what we get here…mostly due to the fact that they don’t really use as much Tamarind in it, which is what makes ours orange.

The recipe is adapted from the one we received at Siam Rice Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The key to making good Pad Thai is to do all of the prep work first and set up your mise en place so once you start cooking you’re ready to go since it all moves pretty quickly.  You also really want to make each serving to order (vs. making a lot at once and doling it out later…it gets a bit sticky as it sits). We made ours vegetarian..tofu only, but you can add chicken or shrimp as well.

50g rice noodles (fresh if possible)
50g sliced chicken (optional)
2 TBS oil (vegetable, safflower, palm…anything except olive)
3-4 chives
1 egg
1 tsp dried shrimp (optional)
1 TBS chopped garlic
50g hard tofu (the kind with the rind still on is best, otherwise extra firm works)
4 TBS water
2-3 TBS oyster sauce
1 TBS fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
Bean sprouts, chili powder and crushed peanuts (a good handful) to garnish
Lime wedges and sugar to serve


In a hot wok add oil and stir fry garlic, tofu & chicken (if using) on high heat until golden brown in color. Stir constantly.

Add the egg and stir to scramble the egg with everything else to cook the egg

Add 2 TBS water and noodles, stirring until the noodles soften and cook (add more water if necessary)

Add fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and soy sauce. Cook, stirring until the noodles are done. Stir in the chives.

Sprinkle bean sprouts, chili powder and crushed peanuts over the top and serve with lime wedges and sugar.

Pad Thai to Order on the Streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand