Pad Thai

By JAMIE LIPHARDT for the Flathead Beacon

This dish is one of my all-time favorites. I crave it. It’s all encompassing with sweet, sour, spicy, hearty, light, healthy and satisfying all in one big bowl. One of the key ingredients in Pad Thai is tamarind.

Tamarind is actually a fruit pod of a tall shade tree native to Asia and parts of northern Africa. They are large pods, grown in clusters with a sweet and sour pulp and are reminiscent of flavors somewhere between tart citrus, dates and stone fruit. Hard to describe, but it is a wonderful addition to any pantry as it has many uses to flavor a variety of dishes. It is also a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce believe it or not.

Typically you’ll find tamarind and most of the other items in the international section of your well stocked grocery store or without fail, your local health food store. Also a pretty versatile dish, so feel free to switch up protein choice, veggies and make it as spicy as you’d like – I usually opt for tofu. With a little bit of prep work and having everything on the ready, it’s quick and easy to put together.


Pad Thai

  • 1 Tbsp. tamarind concentrate, mixed with 2/3 c. hot water
  • 3 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (less if you’d like or more if you can take it!)
  • 2 Tbsp. canola or peanut oil
  • Mix and set aside
  • 8 oz. dried rice noodles (1/4 inch wide)
  • Soak in hot tap water 20 minutes before starting to cook, until soft and pliable. Drain and set aside.
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten with pinch of salt
  • 12 oz. cubed tofu, chicken or peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 6 Tbsp. chopped peanuts
  • 6 oz . fresh bean sprouts
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 c. grated carrot
  • Lime wedges for serving

If you do not own a wok, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch skillet, preferably nonstick if you have it, over high heat. Add protein choice and sprinkle with pinch of salt. Toss until browned on edges, about 3 minutes. Transfer to plate and set aside. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to pan; add the garlic and shallot. Turn to medium heat and stir constantly, until fragrant and lightly golden, about 1-2 minutes. Add beaten eggs and stir quickly until scrambled. Add drained rice noodles and toss. Pour tamarind mixture over noodles and increase heat to medium high. Toss constantly until noodles are evenly coated. Add half the scallions and continue cooking until noodles are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Divide among plates and garnish with chopped peanuts, sprouts, scallions, cilantro and carrot. Serve lime wedges and hot chili sauce on the side. Enjoy!

Jamie Liphardt is a personal chef with Delicious HomeCooked Food in Bigfork.