I decided to make Pad Thai using peanut butter protein powder, rather than peanut butter. The brand I use is “Naked PB”. It is more expensive than regular peanut butter, but has 90% less fat and 70% less calories and each serving (one scoop) is over 40% protein. In a flavor-packed dish like Pad Thai you really will not be able to tell the difference. I’m a bit of a purist (Ok…snob) about food, but what I like about Naked PB is that it contains one ingredient-peanuts.
I’ve used many brands of Rice Noodles, but really like Annie Chun’s. They hold their texture beautifully.
ORIGINS OF PAD THAI…
Pad Thai was born in Thailand during WWII. The man who created the dish, Thailand’s Prime Minister, Plaek Phibunsongkhram, known as Phibun, was instrumental in changing Thailand’s future. He was very involved in stripping the Thai monarchy in 1932 of absolute power leading to a more democratic Thailand. Today they categorize themselves as a constitutional monarch, but the king has very little power to affect any real change. Plus Phibun liked to cook. He would most likely turn over in his grave if he saw his dish being made with powdered peanut butter.
Here is the peanut sauce reducing.
When I made this dish the other night I did not have all the ingredients I would normally put in Pad Thai (no scallions, no water chestnuts, no peapods, and no chopped peanuts) and from what I can tell there are many variations, but this dish was very good. I could not find any original, authentic recipes for Pad Thai that actually use peanut butter, but they do use chopped peanuts for garnish. The main ingredient that gives authentic Pad Thai it’s flavor is tamarind juice (that’s the ‘sour’), but some use vinegar. I used lime juice. What’s wonderful about Pad Thai is that it does contain ‘sweet’, ‘salty’, sour’, ‘spicy’ and ‘umami’ flavors making each bite a flavor explosion.
Sometimes chicken is used in Pad Thai, but I wanted to use shrimp. I seasoned the water for the rice noodles with a tablespoon of soy sauce. Depending on how thickened your sauce becomes, when you add the rice noodles, thin out with a bit of the noodle water.
I went a little over on the grated ginger so it was more spicy than my husband, Jerry likes, but I loved it. Always taste as you add ingredients. If you like spice, add more ginger. If you don’t, add less. Pad Thai should not be a big blob of sweet peanut sauce so balance the flavors with fish or oyster sauce and use sweetener discretely. I believe the original Pad Thai was sweetened with Palm Sugar. Other additions to Pad Thai may include tofu, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, pea pods, scallions, and on and on.
This is not ‘baking’ and we don’t always have to stay exactly true to original, authentic recipes. Have fun adding your own additions to Pad Thai keeping the basics in mind.
Lots of complex flavors give this dish a wonderfully satisfying taste!
- 1/4 cup Chicken Broth If you don't have chicken broth on hand, use water with a little chicken seasoning.
- 3 Scoops Peanut Butter protein, such as Naked PB
- 1 tsp. Fish sauce
- 1 tsp. Sesame oil Plus an additional Tbsp. for sauteing the shrimp.
- 1/4 tsp. Garlic granules
- 1/4 tsp. Crushed red pepper flake
- 2 tsp. Soy sauce Another Tbsp. for salting the noodle water.
- 1 tsp. Fresh ginger root, grated More or less depending on your heat preference. I probably used 2+ tsp. the last time I made this, which was a bit much for my hubby.
- 2 tsp. Honey
- 2 Tbsp. Lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 8 Lge. Shrimp, 4 per person Use additional garlic granules, salt and ginger powder to coat the shrimp before sauteing.
- 4 Tbsp. Cilantro, chopped-about 2 Tbsp. per serving for garnish
- 4 slices Lime for garnish-2 per serving
Whisk until completely incorporated: chicken stock, Peanut butter protein, fish sauce, sesame oil, garlic granules, red pepper flake, soy sauce, ginger root, honey and lime juice. If it seems a little thick, add more water/chicken stock as you are going to reduce this sauce.
Toss the shrimp in additional garlic granules, salt and a dusting of ginger powder. Add about 1 Tbsp. of sesame oil and heat a small heavy-bottomed skilled to medium high. Saute the shrimp very quickly (about 2 minutes per side) until just browned. They will cook further when added to the peanut sauce.
Once the shrimp is cooked, remove from the pan. In the same pan, add the sauce. Bring to a boil and then reduce and cook until slightly thickened; about 8-10 minutes. Lower heat to simmer. Add the shrimp back in.
While the sauce is reducing, bring a large pot of water to boil using 1 Tbsp. of soy sauce to season the water. Once it is boiling, drop in the rice noodles and cook until just al dente; about 4-5 minutes. Do not overboil as they will cook down again in the peanut sauce.
Do not drain the rice noodles, as you may need more liquid to reduce the peanut sauce. Using tongs, pull the rice noodles out of the boiling water and add to the peanut sauce. Check for seasoning. Cook for another 3-5 minutes and serve.
Garnish with cilantro and lime slices.
This Pad Thai recipe comes together very quickly and the variations are nearly endless. Use chives instead of scallions for garnish. Fresh, sliced pea pods make a great addition. Add water chestnuts into the sauce for texture and flavor. Add cubed firm tofu for extra protein. If cilantro is not your favorite add fresh basil. Get creative and have fun!