Real Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe

Shrimp Pad Thai
The Spruce
Ratings (138)
  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: serves 2 to 3
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
867 Calories
46g Fat
53g Carbs
64g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for Pad Thai noodles with shrimp is authentic and so scrumptious! Once you have the ingredients, the Pad Thai sauce is simple to put together, so don't be tempted to buy bottled or packaged pad Thai sauce, which never tastes as good as fresh. Also, making it yourself means you get to adjust the flavors exactly to your liking. Aside from getting the sauce right, the secret to great Pad Thai is all in the noodles and how you cook them. 

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Thai rice noodles (enough for 2 people)
  • 12 to 15 small to medium raw shrimp (shells removed)
  • 1 boneless chicken breast or 1 to 2 thighs* (chopped up into small pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 green onions (sliced, keep white separate from green)
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon grated galangal (or ginger)
  • 1 to 2 fresh red or green chilies (or as much or little as you like), finely sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 to 3 cups bean sprouts
  • Handful fresh coriander/cilantro
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts (chopped)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Lime wedges for serving
  • Pad Thai Sauce: 
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste, to taste (available at Asian/Indian food stores)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili sauce (or 1/3 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Steps to Make It

For an easier version of this recipe, see: Quick & Easy Shrimp Pad Thai.

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Shrimp pad Thai ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil, then switch off heat. Dunk in noodles and soak 3 to 4 minutes, or until noodles are limp but still firm and a little "crunchy". Tip: The noodles must remain undercooked at this stage, as they will be fried later. This is the key to chewy ' al dente' rice noodles. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set aside.

    Cook pad thai noodles
    The Spruce
  3. Toss sliced chicken in 1 tablespoon soy sauce and set aside.

    Toss chicken in soy sauce
    The Spruce
  4. In a small bowl or cup, combine all 'Pad Thai Sauce' ingredients (note that if your tamarind paste is very thick, only add 1 tablespoon; if thin/runny, add 1 1/2 tablespoons). Taste-test the sauce, looking for a very strong-tasting flavor that tastes sour-sweet first, followed by salty and spicy. Set aside.

    Combine Pad Thai sauce ingredients
    The Spruce
  5. Warm a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and swirl around, then add the white parts of the onion (reserve green parts for serving), plus garlic, galangal/ginger, and chili. Stir-fry 1 minute.

    Add onion, garlic, ginger, and chili to oil in frying pan
     The Spruce
  6. Add chicken and stir-fry 2 minutes, or until opaque when cut through. Add shrimp and continue stir-frying 2 to 3 more minutes, or until shrimp are pink and plump.

    Add chicken and shrimp to stir fry
     The Spruce
  7. Push ingredients aside, making room in the center of your wok/pan and crack in the egg. Stir-fry quickly to scramble (30 seconds to 1 minute).

    Crack an egg to stir fry in pan and scramble
     The Spruce
  8. Add the noodles and drizzle over 1/3 of the pad Thai sauce. Using two utensils and a gentle turning motion, stir-fry everything together. Keep heat between medium and high - you want it hot enough to cook the noodles, but not so hot that they'll burn. Add more sauce every 30 seconds to 1 minute as the pan/wok dries out. Continue stir-frying until sauce is gone and noodles begin to get sticky and 'glossy' and taste chewy ('al dente' (5 to 7 minutes).

    Add noodles to pan and add Pad Thai sauce
    The Spruce
  9. Turn off heat. Fold in bean sprouts and taste-test. If not flavorful or salty enough, add more fish sauce. If too salty or sweet, add a drizzle more tamarind or a good squeeze of lime. If not spicy enough, add more chili sauce or fresh-cut chilies.

    Add bean sprouts, fish sauce, tamarind, and chilies to taste
    The Spruce
  10. Sprinkle over the green onion, nuts, and coriander, and garnish with lime wedges (to be squeezed over before eating). Thai chili sauce can be served on the side for those who like it extra spicy.

    Finished Shrimp Pad Thai with garnish
    The Spruce
  11. Enjoy!

Follow These Tips

When making more than 8 oz. of noodles, we usually double the pad Thai sauce recipe. Avoid making more than 12 oz. of noodles at any one time, simply because as it's hard to turn the noodles and get them cooked evenly without overcooking them. Any leftover sauce can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Chicken in Shrimp Pad Thai? It tastes better! Adding a little chicken is a tip from a local Thai chef in southern Thailand, and she is right - it completes the dish and gives the taste added depth.