Unless there’s a Thai restaurant next door, you can likely make this easy pad Thai recipe faster than it would take to place an order, tie your shoes, and pick up some takeout. There are many riffs on Thailand’s most iconic dish, including ones with sauce ingredients like peanut butter, soy sauce, and even ketchup cut with rice vinegar—but authentic pad Thai gets its balance of flavors from fruity-tangy tamarind, umami-rich fish sauce, and palm sugar.
While palm sugar can be swapped for brown sugar, fish sauce and tamarind are non-negotiable. You can find both at most Asian markets and increasingly at larger grocery stores. For the tamarind paste or concentrate, be sure it’s a Southeast Asian variety, as the ones from India have a different concentration.
Since this is a noodle stir-fry, you want to have everything prepped—including the chopped green onions and peanuts, soaked rice sticks, and the pad Thai sauce—before you start cooking the scrambled eggs. The Thai dish is also a great vehicle for leftover proteins like poached chicken breasts or pan-fried firm tofu. Simply toss them in when you add the noodles so they can warm through without overcooking. You could also sauté shrimp last minute. Fresh lime juice adds a nice brightness, so don’t forget to garnish this noodle dish with a lime wedge and, if you like, some cilantro, crispy shallots, crushed red pepper flakes, or extra chili garlic sauce.