Pad thai is one of the most famous and popular Thai dishes. It has an amazing flavour that starts with the fantastically aromatic pad thai sauce that we’re going to look at today. There are so many ways to cook pad thai. Making the pad thai sauce ahead can help reduce the hassle during cooking. You can also make a big batch like I did. This pad thai sauce can be kept in the fridge up to 2 months. The sauce is quite concentrated, so if you don’t like it too spicy, please leave the chilli paste or and chilli flakes from the recipe. However, the chilli paste will give fantastic smell all over your house (and your mouth hehe) and the kind of dried chillies we’re using today aren’t that spicy.
For pad thai sauce the flavor is supposed start with sourness from tamarind, sweetness from palm sugar. It’s also salty and a little bit spicy. I highly recommend you use palm sugar or coconut sugar as it gives the rounder sweetness rather than a very sharp sweetness that comes from refines sugars. However if you can’t find those sugars in your area, brown sugar is a capable substitute.
In the original recipe, fish sauce is an important ingredient that gives the sauce a salty flavor. As we are making vegetarian version, in the recipe, I used thin soy sauce _ ซีอิ๊วขาว instead. Thin soy sauce has a lighter taste with a hint of sweetness compared to normal soy sauce. If you don’t have access to thin soy sauce, regular salt will also do the trick.
We’ll separate this recipe into 2 parts. The chilli part is the old way of making the sauce. It gives an amazing odor and flavor to pad thai, but for faster results, you can either skip the chillies altogether or just add red chilli flakes.
Pad Thai Sauce Recipe
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 40 mins
- Portions: 10 - 12 portions
Chilli paste - ½ cup of big red chilli (can use less) - 1 cup of sliced shallots - ½ tsp of coarse sea salt - 5 small cloves of garlic
Pad Thai sauce - 1 cup of tamarind paste - 1 cup of palm sugar - ¾ cup of thin soy sauce - 1 tbsp of salt - ½ cup of water - Chilli paste from above
- Make the chilli paste first. In a mortar and pestle add coarse salt to help the pounding process then add chilli, shallots and garlic. You will find it easier if you add the ingredients bit by bit.
- Keep pounding until all ingredients are combined, then set aside. Feel free to blend it in a blender if you don’t have mortar and pestle for faster results, however it may not be as smooth
- In a medium pot on low heat add the vegetable oil and chilli paste mixed.
- Fry until fragrant – around 10 minutes. You will see the oil float up to the surface slightly and the mixture will soften.
- Add tamarind sauce, palm sugar, salt and water. Stir occasionally until all the sugar has been dissolved.
- The sauce will be slightly translucent and somewhat thick.
- Tamarind is a kind of fruit in Thailand, it gives a subtle sourness with a slight hint of sweetness. If you buy it whole from the market soak it in warm water (not too much) for around 15 minutes then hand massage it until the water get thicker, you can strain it. There you have it! Most Asian supermarkets will have tamarind paste or tamarind sauce if you need a shortcut here.
- Trick for chill – cut them into small pieces and soak them in water for 10-15 minutes to soften them and make them easier to work with. You can remove the seeds to soften the spicy kick or leave them in. I removed the seeds in mine, but then I added some dried birds eye chilli for heat instead.