Taught to me by a Thai friend in the mid '80's and cooked ever since. A few Pad Thai pointers: Every ingredient in this dish is important, except perhaps, the tofu which seems a little out of place in my humble opinion. The prawns were not part of the original dish but most people enjoy them so I have included them. Each ingredient contributes to the savoury-ness that people love in pad Thai.
The noodles have to be cooked until they soften from the heat of the pan, then the sauce is added. This gives they noodles the best texture. They become slightly translucent and “stretchy” and only then do you add the sauce. You may think there’s not enough sauce but there is plenty for seasoning. Pad Thai is not a “saucy” dish.
peeled dried shrimp
medium dry rice sticks
tamarind concentrate (not the thick dark stuff, the looser, light brown stuff)
neutral flavoured vegetable oil
large prawns, 21-25 count, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
salty preserved radish/turnip, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
square of pressed tofu, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
mung bean sprouts
garlic chives (aka Chinese chives), cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
Place the shrimp in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Place the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Drain the shrimp after 30 minutes and let the noodles soak for an hour in total. Drain the noodles well and finely chop the shrimp. Stir the tamarind, sugar, and fish sauce together. the rest of the ingredients while the shrimp and noodles are soaking.
Heat a wok or heavy frying pan over high heat till smoking. Add 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of oil and swirl it around the pan. Add the prawns and stirfry till 90% cooked. Remove to a plate and return the pan to the heat. Add the remaining oil and when hot, add the shallots. Stir for a few moments until they start to brown slightly then add the dried shrimp, preserved radish and tofu. Fry for a minute or so then crack in the eggs. Scramble them rapidly until cooked and add the noodles. Stir and toss the noodles until they reduce in volume and take on a glossy sheen. Stir in the sauce. When the noodles are coated evenly with the sauce, add the cooked prawns and bean sprouts. Stir until the bean sprouts wilt slightly then add the chives. Give a few stirs to distribute everything evenly and turn out onto a platter or serving bowls. Garnish with the peanuts and serve with the lime wedges and chili flakes for individual seasoning.