Pad Thai is a stir-fried noodle dish from Thailand. The foundation is a thin flat noodle made from rice flour that is combined with a protein, vegetables, eggs and a sauce created with unique flavors of Thailand.
It’s rich with umami and fresh citrus notes and can be customized with different proteins, just like fried rice.
What’s in Pad Thai sauce?
The most common ingredients are fish sauce, tamarind paste, sugar, lime juice, rice wine vinegar and some heat. You can use brown sugar or white sugar, but I prefer to use coconut palm sugar. I find it to be a little less sweet. For the heat, I use sriracha, but you could also use some red pepper flakes.
Don’t be intimidated by the fish sauce. It doesn’t taste fishy. It’s kind of like soy sauce with even more umami flavor. If you’re too nervous to try it, you could substitute soy sauce, but it won’t quite be the same.
Tamarind paste is another unique item. You should be able to find it at an Asian market, along with the fish sauce. It’s made from the tamarind pods, which are sweet and sour and caramel-like.
How can you grill a noodle dish?
The key to creating grilled pad Thai is to grill your proteins. For this recipe, I’ve used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but you could also use shrimp or steak.
The meat is going to be cooked twice. First, on the grill and then again in the skillet with the noodles. Therefore, you don’t want to overcook it during the first stage.
If you browse the internet, you’ll find many variations on how to cook rice noodles. Some say to boil them. Others say to soak them in boiling water.
I prefer for my noodles to have a little chew, so I just soak them in warm water, not boiling water. I learned that trick from chef Jet Tila.
I start soaking them as the first step, and when it’s time to add them to the skillet, they’re perfect.
The stir fry steps
Since I love to be outside, I complete the stir-fry steps on my grill. You could also use an outside burner, or take everything back inside.
If you’re going to use the grill like me, make sure your pan doesn’t have any plastic parts, or they may melt. Turn the grill to high. Heat some oil and start sautéing the onions and garlic. Then, just toss in those noodles and give them a coat.
Next, fry the eggs. I let them cook on their own for a minute or two, and then I fold them into the noodles to finish cooking.
Once the eggs are scrambled, add in the grilled chicken, along with that marinade.
The only reason it’s safe to re-use this marinade is because we’re going to heat it all the way through, which will cook off the raw chicken juice.
The last step is steaming the vegetables. This grilled pad Thai recipe calls for fresh bean sprouts and green onions along with some chopped peanuts for crunch. I place them in the skillet and wrap the noodles around them for 30-60 seconds.
To serve the grilled pad Thai, add the noodles to a plate and top with the remaining fresh bean sprouts, green onions and peanuts. Squeeze a wedge of lime for that last pop of brightness.
Grilled Pad Thai
Take your favorite take out dish outside by making Grilled Pad Thai. Grilling the chicken makes it extra delicious.
Prep the noodles. Place the rice noodles in a large bowl. Cover with warm water. Let soak while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Make the sauce. Combine sauce ingredients. Marinate the chicken in the sauce for 30 minutes.
Grill the chicken. Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Save the marinade. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the grill. Let is rest 10 minutes then chop.
Cook the aromatics and noodles. Increase the grill heat to high. Place a grill-proof large skillet on the grill. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Saute the shallots for 30 seconds. Saute the garlic for 30 seconds. Remove the noodles from the soaking water and add to the pan. Saute to coat.
Cook the eggs. Push the noodles to the side. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the open area of the pan. Crack the eggs into the skillet. Let them cook for about 1 minute and then fold into the noodles.
Add the chicken to the pan along with the reserved marinade. Toss and cook until the noodles are coated, about 2 minutes.
Steam the veggies. Spread the noodles evenly across the skillet. Add half of the bean sprouts, green onions and peanuts to the center. Fold the noodles over the vegetables to steam them. Cook for 30-60 seconds, and then give everything a final toss.
Serve. Transfer to a plate, and serve with the remaining fresh bean sprouts, green onions, peanuts and lime wedges.