This pad Thai recipe is not the dish from the neighborhood take-out joint. "It ain't made with chicken," says Ricker, whose traditional take—pleasantly funky with fish sauce and preserved radish and a touch sour from tamarind—is meant to be eaten in the evening as a stand-alone dish.
- 5 ounces pad Thai rice noodles
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 6 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined (optional)
- 2 tablespoons 1x½x⅛-inch slices pressed tofu (bean curd)
- 1 tablespoon sweet preserved shredded radish, rinsed, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 5 tablespoons tamarind water, or 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon tamarind paste mixed with 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
- 1½ tablespoons (or more) Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
- 1½ tablespoons simple syrup, preferably made with palm sugar
- 4 garlic chives, 2 cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ teaspoon ground dried Thai chiles, divided
- 2 tablespoons crushed roasted, unsalted peanuts, divided
Place noodles in a large bowl; pour hot water over to cover. Let soak until tender but not mushy, 5–10 minutes. Drain; set aside.
Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add egg; stir until barely set, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp, if using. Cook, stirring, until shrimp and egg are almost cooked through, 2–3 minutes. Add tofu and radish; cook for 30 seconds. Add noodles and cook for 1 minute. Stir in sprouts. Add tamarind water, fish sauce, and simple syrup and stir-fry until sauce is absorbed by noodles and noodles are well coated, about 1 minute. Stir in chopped garlic chives. Add 1/4 tsp. ground chiles and 1 Tbsp. peanuts and toss well. Transfer to serving plates.
Garnish with remaining 1/4 tsp. ground chiles, 1 Tbsp. peanuts, and lime wedges.