Phad thai is a pretty curious dish in Thailand. It seems like it’s the gateway Thai dish for foreigners and backpackers, and is always written in large letters on signs in areas that typically otherwise serve western food. Ordering phad thai sometimes feels like a cop-out, a guilty pleasure, something that you wouldn’t tell your foodie friends, let alone write about on a food blog. The simple truth however is that phad thai is simply amazing. I got over my shyness of eating phad thai after seeing a number of Thais go out of their way to find the best versions of this dish. I mean, it was invented as a way to celebrate a truly Thai dish. Who cares that every westerner has also adopted it as one of their favorite dishes, and for some, the go-to Thai dish.
One thing I found was that there are different versions of phad thai between the north and the south. I knew there were differences in the other dishes (for example, tom kha has mushrooms in the north and turmeric in the south) but finding a unique variant of phad thai was unexpected. We were served this version of phad thai while staying at Baan Khao Sok, a great resort (well, they call it a resort but it’s really more of a collection of inexpensive bungalows) in one of our favorite places in Thailand, Khao Sok. Khao Sok is a wonderful, large, breathtakingly beautiful national park in the center of the southern part of Thailand, between Surathani on the east and Krabi on the west. The owners of Baan Khao Sok were some of the nicest, most friendly people ever and when we got back from our days of trekking along some of the hiking trails in the park, we’d come back and chat with them. One day, I asked what the best dish they make is and everyone piped up that it was their phad thai. Without hesitation, we ordered a plate (along with a few other things) and had one of my favorite versions of phad thai ever. I told them that they’d have to teach me how to make it, which they were more than happy to do.
What’s interesting about this version of phad thai is that they don’t use citrus or fish sauce in the making of the dish, something that every recipe I’ve seen or tried previously (including the Northern Thai variant that I’ll be posting soon) has in it. That didn’t change the fact that this was one seriously delicious phad thai. And the ease and simplicity of it! This is a one-dish wonder that you can whip up in less than 10 minutes (once all of the ingredients are prepared.)
The most important thing in this dish though is the citrus flavor imparted by the lime garnish. Make sure you find some juicy, sweet limes to provide alongside of the dish. When done right, this is a real crowd pleaser.
- 1 package thin, flat rice noodles
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons chicken powder
- 3 tablespoons crushed peanuts
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 can (7oz) Coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons chilli sauce: Golden Mountain Mild-Hot, or make your own (recipe below).
- 2 tomatoes, cut into large wedges and halved
- 2 carrots, halved and cut into 1 inch slices
- 1 onion, cut into slices
- 1/2 can baby corn, quartered
- 1 bunch Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli), stems removed, leafs torn into two inch strips
- 1Lb chicken, cut into two inch strips
- 4 eggs, beaten in a bowl
- 2 limes, the juicier and sweeter the better
- 1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
- Add the vegetable oil (reserving a tablespoon for the eggs) to a wok and heat over medium-high flames.
- Add chicken and stir fry for 30 seconds.
- Add noodles and stir until chicken is white.
- Add in coconut milk and chili sauce and stir for another 30 seconds.
- Add in vegetables one at a time, stirring a few times between adding each ingredient
- Transfer to a plate, garnish each plate with half of a lime and a few slices of cucumber
- In a small fry pan, fry 1/4 of the egg mixture to create a small omelet. Repeat four times and cover each plate of noodles.
Thai chili sauce
- 15 red thai chilies, seeds removed for mild, seeds included for medium, or twice as many chilies with seeds for hot
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 20 cloves of garlic
- 5 shallots or 1 red onion
- 4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 15oz can of tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoons fish sauce, I recommend the Tiparos brand