Pad Thai was one of the first things I ever learned to cook by myself, but this is the first time I've been able to make it entirely from scratch, since tamarind is a bit tricky to come by. Most of this recipe is from Epicurious, but I changed it quite a bit. The initial step was originally frying a bunch of shallots for toppings, but I've never managed without burning them so I've decided to just leave them out. This recipe makes about four servings.
* 12 ounces clear rice noodles
* 2 tablespoons tamarind (from a block of pulp)
* 1 cup boiling-hot water
* 6 tablespoons soy sauce
* 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
* 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons Sriracha or other chili sauce
* 1 bunch scallions
* 1 package firm or extra-firm tofu
* 1 cup peanut or vegetable oil
* 2-4 large eggs
* 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 2 cups bean sprouts (1/4 pound)
* 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
* shredded carrots, lotus roots, bamboo shoots, pea pods, or other vegetables to taste
* lime wedges
Soak noodles in a large bowl of warm water until softened, 25 to 30 minutes (or follow package directions). Drain well in a colander and cover with a dampened paper towel.
Meanwhile, make sauce by soaking tamarind pulp in boiling-hot water in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Force mixture through a sieve into a bowl, discarding seeds and fibers. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce and Sriracha, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
Cut scallions into 2-inch pieces. Halve pale green and white parts lengthwise.
Rinse tofu, then cut into 1-inch cubes and pat dry.
Heat oil in wok over medium heat until hot. Fry tofu in 1 layer, gently turning occasionally, until golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer tofu to paper towels using a slotted spoon. Pour off frying oil and reserve.
Lightly beat eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat 2 tablespoons shallot oil in wok over high heat until it shimmers. Add eggs and swirl to coat side of wok, then cook, stirring gently with a spatula, until cooked through. Break into chunks with spatula and transfer to a plate.
Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly. Pour in 6 tablespoons shallot oil, then swirl to coat side of wok. Stir-fry scallions, garlic, and any other vegetables until softened, about 2 minutes.
Add noodles and stir-fry over medium heat (use 2 spatulas if necessary) 5 minutes. Add tofu, bean sprouts, and sauce and simmer, turning noodles over to absorb sauce evenly, until noodles are tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the eggs.
Serve with chopped peanuts, lime wedges, and chili sauce.