Shrimp Pad Thai: A Step-By-Step Recipe Guide 

 Last Update December 11, 2023

By Jenny Zhang

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If you're a fan of Thai food and crave Southeast Asia's tangy and vibrant flavors, then you need to learn how to make Shrimp Pad Thai in the comfort of your home. Prepare to indulge your taste buds with the alluring aroma and irresistible flavors of shrimp pad Thai. Bursting with vibrant colors, tangy sauces, and the perfect balance of sweet and savory, this dish will surely impress your friends and family.

Starting from Thailand's bustling streets, pad Thai has gained international acclaim for its exquisite taste and versatility. Traditionally made with rice noodles, succulent shrimp, crunchy bean sprouts, and an array of fresh vegetables, this iconic stir-fried dish offers a harmonious blend of textures and flavors that will transport you straight to the bustling markets of Bangkok.

Preparing shrimp pad Thai at home is a delightful experience that allows you to unleash your creativity in the kitchen. No matter your culinary expertise, whether you're an experienced chef or a beginner in the kitchen, this dish can be tailored to your individual taste and preferences. Feel free to adjust the level of spiciness, experiment with various vegetables, or even substitute shrimp with your favorite protein for a unique twist. Below we will share how to make shrimp pad Thai in your kitchen.

Shrimp Pad Thai

Prep Time
10 minutes

Cook Time
15  minutes

Rest Time
0 minutes

Total Time
25 minutes

  • Cooking Method: Stir Frying, Boiling
  • Cuisine: Thai
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories: 449
  • Courses: Main Dish
  • Best Season: Any

Ingredients

  • 8 Oz Thai Rice Noodles or Pad Thai Noodles
  • 1/2 Lb Medium Shrimp Peeled And Deveined
  • 3 Medium Eggs Whisked
  • 4 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
  • Lime wedges for serving
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

For the Pad Thai Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Chili garlic sauce Optional

Directions

1. Begin by immersing the rice noodles in water and allowing them to soak as per the instructions provided on the package. Once they are soft and pliable, drain them and set them aside.

2. In a small bowl, prepare the Pad Thai sauce by combining tamarind paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice. Stir well until the sugar has dissolved. Adjust the flavors to your liking by adding more tamarind paste for tanginess, fish sauce for saltiness, or sugar for sweetness.

3. In a generous-sized skillet or wok, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook them for approximately 2-3 minutes until they transform into a delightful pink hue and are thoroughly cooked. Transfer the cooked shrimp to a separate dish and set them aside for later use.

4. Add an additional tablespoon of oil to the same skillet, then introduce the minced garlic. Sauté the garlic for around 30 seconds, allowing its enticing aroma to infuse the oil and create a fragrant base for the dish.

5. Create a space in the skillet by pushing the sautéed garlic to one side, and on the other side, pour the lightly beaten eggs into the pan. Allow the eggs to cook for a few seconds until they start to set, then scramble them using a spatula. After the eggs have cooked to your desired doneness, combine them with the sautéed garlic, ensuring the flavors meld together harmoniously.

6. Add the soaked rice noodles into the pan, then generously drizzle the Pad Thai sauce over the noodles, ensuring they are thoroughly coated in the flavorful sauce. Use tongs or two utensils to toss and combine the noodles with the sauce gently. Ensure that all the noodles are coated evenly.

7. Stir in the cooked shrimp, bean sprouts, and sliced green onions. Continue stir-frying the ingredients for an additional 2-3 minutes, allowing the bean sprouts to slightly soften and blend harmoniously with the other flavors and textures.

8. Take the pan off the heat and sprinkle the shrimp pad Thai with a generous amount of chopped roasted peanuts for added crunch and flavor. Serve the dish while hot, accompanied by lime wedges on the side, allowing everyone to squeeze fresh lime juice over their portion, enhancing the vibrant flavors of the dish. Top with fresh cilantro for added freshness and aroma.


Tips & Notes

Prep Ahead: Prep all your ingredients before you start cooking. Shrimp pad Thai comes together quickly once you start cooking, so it's essential to have everything chopped, measured, and ready to go. The tasks involved are preparing the shrimp, finely chopping garlic, slicing vegetables, and soaking the rice noodles.

Cook the shrimp separately: To ensure perfectly cooked shrimp, cook them separately from the other ingredients. By doing so, you can effectively manage their cooking duration and avoid the risk of them turning excessively cooked and chewy.

Sugar Substitute: Authentic Pad Thai recipe uses palm sugar. But if it's not available, use brown sugar instead.

Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts

Servings: 4


Calories

449


% Daily Value*


Total Fat 8.5g

11%


Saturated Fat 1.8g

9%


Cholesterol 243mg

81%


Sodium 1626mg

71%


Total Carbohydrate 66.1g

24%


Dietary Fiber 1.6g

6%


Total Sugars 9.2g



Protein 30g



Vitamin D 12mcg

58%


Calcium 99mg

8%


Iron 12mg

69%


Potassium 335mg

7%


*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Use high heat and a wok if possible: To achieve that signature smoky flavor and slightly charred edges, cook your shrimp pad Thai over high heat. A wok is the ideal cooking vessel as it distributes heat evenly and allows for quick and efficient stir-frying.

Add Bean Sprouts and Green Onion At The End: At the final stage, incorporate the bean sprouts and green onions. Bean sprouts and green onions provide freshness and crunch to the dish. To preserve their texture and vibrant color, add them towards the end of the cooking process.

Cook The Noodle Accordingly: Take care not to overcook the Pad Thai noodles as rice noodles have a tendency to become mushy if cooked for too long. Follow the package instructions for soaking time, and when stir-frying, cook the noodles just until they are tender but still have a slight chew. After cooking, it is advisable to rinse the cooked noodles with cold water to halt the cooking process.


What is Pad Thai?

Pad Thai is a popular and beloved Thai dish that has become renowned worldwide for its unique combination of flavors and textures. It is a stir-fried noodle dish typically made with rice noodles, protein (such as shrimp, chicken, or tofu), eggs, and various vegetables. The dish is characterized by its tangy and slightly sweet flavor profile, achieved through the use of tamarind paste, fish sauce, and palm sugar.

Pad Thai is often prepared by stir-frying soaked rice noodles in a wok or skillet, along with the protein, eggs, and a medley of vegetables like bean sprouts, green onions, and carrots. The rice noodles are bathed in a delectable sauce that harmoniously combines tamarind paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, and occasionally lime juice, resulting in a burst of irresistible flavors. This sauce gives Pad Thai its distinct tangy and savory taste.

Garnishes are essential in elevating both the taste and visual appeal of Pad Thai, contributing to its overall flavor profile and stunning presentation. Common garnishes include crushed peanuts, fresh lime wedges, cilantro, and a sprinkle of chili flakes or Thai chili peppers for those who enjoy some heat. These components introduce an additional dimension of texture, vibrancy, and depth to the dish, providing a delightful interplay of crunchiness, freshness, and complexity.

How To Elevate A Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe

Marinate the shrimp

Before cooking the shrimp, marinate them in a mixture of lime juice, soy sauce, minced garlic, and a touch of sugar for about 15 minutes. This will infuse the shrimp with extra flavor and add complexity to the dish.

Add additional vegetables

While traditional pad Thai includes bean sprouts and green onions, you can incorporate more vegetables to add color, texture, and nutrients. Consider adding thinly sliced bell peppers, shredded cabbage, julienned carrots, snow peas, or snap peas for a delightful crunch and vibrant presentation.

Experiment with protein

Shrimp is a classic choice for pad Thai, but you can explore other proteins to change things up. Try using thinly sliced chicken breast, tofu, or even a combination of different proteins for a more diverse flavor profile.

Include fresh herbs and aromatics

The distinctiveness of Thai cuisine lies in its aromatic herbs and spices. Add a handful of fresh Thai basil, mint, or cilantro to your shrimp pad Thai just before serving. The herbs will provide a burst of freshness and elevate the dish's overall flavor.

Spice it up

If you enjoy some heat, don't hesitate to add Thai chili peppers or red pepper flakes to your pad Thai. Adjust the spiciness to your liking, but be mindful of the heat level to ensure everyone's preferences are accommodated.

Incorporate unique ingredients

Consider adding extra ingredients to create a more distinctive and gourmet pad Thai. For example, you can toss in some crushed pineapple for a hint of sweetness, toasted sesame oil for a nutty flavor, or even a small amount of creamy peanut butter to give the sauce a rich and velvety texture.

FAQs

Can I use dried rice noodles instead of fresh ones?

Yes, you can use dried rice noodles as a substitute for fresh ones. To prepare dried rice noodles, immerse them in hot water until they soften and become pliable. The soaking time may vary based on the thickness of the noodles, so it's best to follow the instructions on the package. Once soaked, drain the noodles and incorporate them into the recipe just as you would with fresh rice noodles.

How do I prevent the rice noodles from sticking together?

Rice noodles tend to stick together, especially when cooked or left at room temperature for too long. To prevent sticking, rinse the cooked rice noodles under cold water immediately after cooking to remove excess starch. Gently toss them with some oil to further prevent them from sticking together, keeping the noodles separated and maintaining their texture.

What can I use as a substitute for tamarind paste?

In the absence of tamarind paste, you can replace it with a mixture of lime juice and brown sugar or rice vinegar. Tamarind paste provides a tangy and slightly sweet flavor to the dish, so a mixture of lime juice and brown sugar or rice vinegar can provide a similar tanginess. Begin with modest quantities and make adjustments based on your preference until you achieve the desired harmony of flavors.

How do I achieve the perfect balance of flavors in the pad Thai sauce?

Personal preference plays a crucial role in attaining the ideal balance of flavors in the pad Thai sauce. The traditional balance includes tamarind's tanginess, fish sauce's saltiness, palm sugar's sweetness, and lime juice's brightness. Start by following the recipe measurements, then taste and adjust the tamarind, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice levels to suit your taste buds. Some people prefer a more tangy or sweeter pad Thai, so feel free to experiment until you find your preferred balance.

How do I know when the shrimp is cooked properly?

To prevent shrimp from becoming rubbery and tough, it is essential to avoid overcooking them due to their quick cooking time. Shrimp are considered cooked when they transition to an opaque and pink hue, with the flesh being firm yet tender to the touch. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the shrimp, but it usually takes about 2-3 minutes per side. Exercise caution to prevent overcooking by not leaving them on the heat for an extended period of time. Shrimp have a tendency to cook rapidly and can easily become overdone if not closely monitored.

Can I add extra vegetables or customize the ingredient list?

Absolutely! Shrimp pad Thai is a versatile dish that can be customized to your liking. To boost the nutritional value and introduce more variety to the dish, feel free to incorporate additional vegetables. Consider including thinly sliced bell peppers, shredded cabbage, julienned carrots, or snap peas for extra color, texture, and flavor. Don't hesitate to explore various vegetables and customize the ingredient list according to your personal taste preferences.

What are some common garnishes for shrimp pad Thai?

Common garnishes for shrimp pad Thai include crushed peanuts, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, and a sprinkle of chili flakes or Thai chili peppers. The crushed peanuts add a crunchy texture, while the lime wedges provide a burst of tanginess. The inclusion of fresh cilantro imparts a refreshing touch and delightful aroma. You can also add additional garnishes like sliced green onions or bean sprouts for added texture and visual appeal.

How long can I store leftover shrimp pad Thai?

You can safely store any remaining shrimp pad Thai in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a duration of 3 to 4 days. To maintain its freshness, consuming it within this time frame is best. Before reheating, add a splash of water or sauce to moisten the noodles, as they may dry out slightly in the refrigerator.

Can I reheat pad Thai and maintain its flavors and textures?

Yes, you can reheat pad Thai while maintaining its flavors and textures. To preserve the texture of the noodles and proteins, it is recommended to reheat the leftover pad Thai gently, taking care not to overcook them. To reheat, use a skillet or a microwave with a small amount of water or sauce to help rehydrate the noodles and prevent them from becoming dry. Stir-fry or microwave until heated through, but be mindful not to overcook.

Can I freeze shrimp pad Thai for later consumption?

It's not recommended to freeze shrimp pad Thai as the rice noodles can become mushy upon thawing. The texture may change, and the flavors may not be as vibrant. However, if you have leftovers and still want to freeze them, remove the shrimp before freezing and undercook the noodles slightly. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat gently to minimize texture changes.

Are there any special cooking techniques or tips to make the dish more authentic?

To make the dish more authentic, consider using a wok and high heat to achieve the smoky flavors and slightly charred edges that are characteristic of pad Thai. Additionally, make sure to balance the flavors of sweet, sour, salty, and umami by adjusting the quantities of tamarind paste, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice to your taste. To enhance the flavors, try using Thai basil instead of regular basil and Thai bird's eye chilies for an extra kick of heat. These techniques and ingredient choices can help you create a more authentic and flavorful shrimp pad Thai.


Jenny passionately advocates a holistic and natural approach to health and well-being. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and years of working in food sciences, specializing in organic & natural products. She is committed to helping others embrace a balanced, natural lifestyle that fosters well-being. Jenny believes that a harmonious balance between nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness is the key to unlocking the full potential of one’s well-being.