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What Is Pad Thai?

Pad Thai is a stir-fried noodle dish, typical street fare in Thailand and perhaps the #1 order at your local Thai restaurant. The traditional version is a bit funky (fish sauce and dried shrimp), sour (fresh tamarind paste), and sweet (palm sugar). There’s also almost always a base of wide rice noodles, a generous sprinkle of crushed peanuts on top, and a lime wedge served alongside. The addition of an egg, scrambled in the wok, and a pile of fresh bean sprouts are also in most versions of the dish.

Most Pad Thai recipes for the home cook get their sweet and sour components from brown sugar and vinegar or lime juice. Though a combination of shrimp and tofu are traditional, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in place of the shrimp, or add more vegetables and tofu for a vegetarian version.

The key to great Pad Thai is to have all your components at the ready before you start cooking, as the process moves quickly—traditional recipes are stir-fried one serving at a time to capture that hot-off-the-wok flavor and the ideal balance of ingredients. We forgo that in our recipes in favor of convenience and shorter cooking time. This takeout-worthy Shrimp Pad Thai is ready in just 25 minutes.

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