Prawn Pad Thai is a popular noodle dish from Thailand that is a complete meal in one wok.
A perfect quick, easy, and tasty weeknight meal that's ready within 30 minutes.
This stir fry dish includes salty, spicy, sweet, and sour ingredients, a treat for the taste buds.
Pad Thai Noodles with prawns is one of my favourite dishes from when I travelled in Thailand.
It is popular street food in Thailand for tourists and locals and is still enjoyed in restaurants or at home.
If you haven't been, I highly recommend you go! Until you can sample the excellent Thailand street food Pad Thai, have a go at my quick, easy version at home.
Our version has a few substitute ingredients as you can't find all the Thai ingredients in the UK, but it's still full of flavour, easy to make and gives you the taste of Thailand in your own home.
What is Pad Thai?
A Pad Thai is a noodle dish with protein such as prawns, chicken or tofu.
Stir-fried with eggs, bean sprouts, garlic and chilli, with Pad Thai sauce added, then served with a sprinkle of crushed peanuts and spring onions.
Pad Thai was created in the 1930s by Plaek Phibunsongkhram, the dictator of Thailand.
He wanted to establish a national identity through culture. He changed the country's name from Siam to Thailand, commissioned a national anthem and created a national Thai dish.
Pad Thai was the dish he chose as Thailand's National dish.
The dish quickly became popular and has since spread to other parts of Southeast Asia and the world.
When cooking a Pad Thai, make sure you have all of the ingredients prepared and chopped before starting.
The cooking time is only 15 minutes, with no time to chop ingredients between stir-frying.
We like to make our Pad Thai with prawns, but you can use any protein or a combo of proteins.
Try chicken, tofu, shrimp or a mix of them all!
Sesame oil gives a nutty flavour to the Pad Thai.
You can find it in the Asian section of most supermarkets or online.
If you can't find it, you can use another oil like vegetable or peanut oil.
Bean sprouts, garlic, and shallots are the vegetables traditionally used in Pad Thai.
These vegetables are quickly stir-fried and add crunch and flavour to the dish.
However, you can use any combination of vegetables instead.
You can use onion, spring onions or chives instead of shallots.
Red chilli gives the dish a bit of heat, but you can use green chilli or dried chilli flakes.
Use Thai chillies (birds' eye chillies); they may look small, but they pack a hot spicy punch.
Did you know removing the seeds and pith (the membrane seeds attach to) will reduce the heat from chillies? This is where most of the heat comes from; it is up to you if you want to do this.
Use 1 for a mild kick, 2 for hot or 3 for very spicy!
Or leave chillies out altogether if you don't like spice.
Remember, you can always add more fresh chilli when serving, so if it is your first time, start with less chilli, you can add more when you taste it.
Eggs are added to Pad Thai for extra protein; they should be scrambled and added in with the other ingredients.
The best noodles for Pad thai are rice noodles or rice noodle sticks.
But you can also use other noodles, such as egg noodles, vermicelli, or glass noodles.
We have also made it with the Amoy straight to wok noodles to save some time in the past.
Used in the sauce (more details below for making Pad Thai sauce at home.)
But also cut into wedges to serve.
Crush peanuts to sprinkle on top of the noodles just before serving.
Coriander stalks (cilantro) are used with garlic and chilli for extra flavouring during cooking.
Meanwhile, the coriander leaves add more flavour and garnish prawn Pad Thai.
Thai basil is another option which has a more anise flavour to it.
Pad Thai Sauce
The sauce for Pad Thai is made from a few key ingredients: tamarind paste, fish sauce, palm sugar and soy sauce.
However, some of these ingredients are not readily available here in the UK, so I have included suitable substitutes.
Tamarind paste is what gives the dish its characteristic sweet and sour flavour.
It is hard to find in the UK, but the lime juice and sugar are suitable substitutes.
Palm sugar is another ingredient which is hard to find in the UK.
A suitable substitute for palm sugar is soft brown sugar.
Fish sauce provides a salty flavour. This stinky sauce (it is normal for it to smell so bad) is easier to find and is the key to the Pad Thai sauce flavouring, so make an effort to find it.
If you must substitute, add more soy sauce and lime juice.
Rice Wine Vinegar
Rice wine vinegar also helps give the sauce a sour flavour. It is a Chinese vinegar made from rice wine.
You can find it in the Asian section of supermarkets or online.
Use white wine vinegar as a substitute.
Soy sauce is used in the Pad Thai sauce to add a salty, savoury flavour.
Use light soy sauce as the dark soy sauce is very rich and too dark.
Of course can switch the protein used for chicken, tofu, crab, dried shrimp, squid or vegetables instead of making Pad Thai noodles with prawns.
How do you stop noodles from sticking?
To stop the noodles from sticking together after cooking.
Drain them, then add to a large bowl of cool water until ready to be added back to the wok.
Here is the step by step recipe for making this Thai dish.
📖 Step by Step Recipe
Pad Thai Noodles with Prawns
- 200 grams Rice Noodle Sticks or 200g Amoy Straight To Wok Ribbon Rice Noodles
- 3 tablespoon Sesame Oil
- 165 grams Jumbo King Prawns Peeled
- 1 large Shallot finely chopped
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 1-3 Thai Chilli (aka birds eye chilli) Finely chopped, adjust to desired heat level.
- Small handful Coriander stems for cooking, leaves for garnishing
- 2 Eggs whisked
- 150 g Bean Sprouts
Pad Thai Sauce
- 3 tablespoon Fish Sauce
- 3 tablespoon Soft Brown Sugar
- 3 tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Light Soy Sauce
- ½ Lime squeezed
- 1 tablespoon Peanuts crushed
- ½ Lime cut into wedges
- 2 Spring Onions finely sliced
- Chilli or Chilli Flakes to make it spicier
- Light Soy Sauce
- Cook noodles to packet instructions; once cooked drain and place in a large bowl with cold water to stop them from cooking and prevent them from sticking together.If using straight to wok noodles there is no need for this step.200 grams Rice Noodle Sticks
- Place all the pad thai sauce ingredients in a bowl, give a good stir and place to one side.3 tablespoon Fish Sauce, 3 tablespoon Soft Brown Sugar, 3 tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar, 1 tablespoon Light Soy Sauce, ½ Lime
- Prepare all the vegetables before starting to cook. Separate the coriander (cilantro) leaves and stems. The stems are to use during cooking, save the leaves for garnishing.1 large Shallot, 3 cloves Garlic, 1-3 Thai Chilli (aka birds eye chilli), Small handful Coriander
- Add ½ of the sesame oil, cook the prawns over medium heat for 2-3 mins on each side, remove and set aside. Add remaining ½ of sesame oil in the wok.165 grams Jumbo King Prawns, 3 tablespoon Sesame Oil
- Cook the shallots, garlic, chillies and coriander stems cook for a few minutes over medium-high heat until shallots are golden.1 large Shallot, 3 cloves Garlic, 1-3 Thai Chilli (aka birds eye chilli), Small handful Coriander, 2 Spring Onions
- Push the ingredients to the edges of the wok, add the whisked eggs leave them to sit for 2 mins. Then scramble the eggs and mix in with the ingredients from around the side of the wok.2 Eggs, 1 large Shallot
- Add the cooked noodles to the wok, using tongs makes it easier to mix the ingredients together.200 grams Rice Noodle Sticks
- Add the pad thai sauce, cooked prawns and bean sprouts. Flip all together with tongs until well combined and heated through.165 grams Jumbo King Prawns, 150 g Bean Sprouts
- Serve with a combination of your choice of toppings.I like a sprinkle of crushed peanuts, spring onions, extra chilli, a wedge of lime, and extra soy sauce.2 Spring Onions, ½ Lime, Chilli or Chilli Flakes, Light Soy Sauce, 1 tablespoon Peanuts
This Prawn Pad Thai Noodle recipe post was initially posted in June 2019 and was updated 22/04/2022 to include substitute ingredients, new images and a updated recipe card.
To speed up this already quick Pad Thai recipe, use the below cheat ingredients, all available from UK supermarkets!
Garlic Puree by Gia - Garlic ready crushed to put into your recipe; 1 teaspoon equals two garlic cloves.
Chilli Puree by Gia- Chilli peppers are ready crushed to add a quick kick to any dish. 1 teaspoon is equal to small chilli pepper.
Amoy straight to wok
Amoy Straight To Wok Ribbon Rice Noodles, another quick, easy cheat ingredient.
Noodles are already cooked and ready to add at the last cooking step. They sell lots of different types of noodles.
This Pad Thai Noodle with Prawns is a sponsored recipe created for Gia Garlic Puree & Gia Chilli Puree.
More Thai Recipes
Want some extra vegetables to serve with your noodles? Our stir-fried Thai vegetables will be perfect.
Other Noodle Recipes
I hope you enjoyed this easy recipe for prawn Pad Thai, which is perfect for a quick weeknight meal.
Let me know in the comments below if you try it out!