I’ve been making lots of Pad Thai over the last month (ever since my daughter asked for it for her 13th birthday dinner) and, after lots of experimentation, I’m excited to share my favorite way to make it – Shrimp Pad Thai. It may sound like a challenging dish to whip up on a busy night, but I promise, it’s really very simple (more on that below), and I love how the addition of the spinach instead of bean sprouts—which can be hard to find fresh “enough” around here—makes it a one-dish dinner!
My husband and I actually took a cooking class in Thailand years ago (pictures below) and quickly learned that many Thai recipes use varying combinations of a few simple, fresh ingredients. I am telling you, fresh is where it’s at! Whether it’s hot peppers, garlic, ginger, fresh herbs, or lime, you’d be hard-pressed not to find at least one of these in a Thai recipe.
The other essential ingredient you simply can’t skip when it’s called for—at least if you want that authentic flavor—is the fish sauce. I understand being leery of a bottle of fishy smelling and tasting “sauce”, but I promise, as long as you don’t overdo it (this Shrimp Pad Thai recipe uses the perfect amount), it will do wonders for giving your Asian cooking that authentic flavor!
17 thoughts on “The Best Shrimp Pad Thai”
What could I sub for fish sauce? I have a vegetarian who wouldn’t eat that.
That’s a hard one because it adds a very authentic flavor! You can just leave it out, but of course the outcome won’t be exactly the same.
coconut aminos , it will also decrease the sodium which is the full daily amount!
If I can’t use coconut oil because of high cholesterol, what else could I use?
Hi Susan. Our typical sub with coconut oil is butter.
This was so good. The smell of the fish sauce during preparation had us seriously skeptical. But, voila! once cooked with the rest of the ingredients – delicious! I used some leftover chicken to make chicken Pad Thai for lunch today.
Where did you find brown rice Thai noodles?
I bought them at our local Earth Fare grocery store, but you can also get them on Amazon. I updated the recipe to include a link. – Jason
Looking forward to making this! From your pictures it looks like we went to the exact same cooking class! We’re you in Chiang Mai?! We went back in 2010!!
No way! Small world. Yes, we were in Chiang Mai (2011) and loved the class and touring the markets. Our guide was a riot. I underestimated the heat in bird’s eye peppers and made a searing hot dish, but ate it anyway. It was a great experience. – Jason
Do you think you could swap out the shrimp for chicken? Would you change anything else about the recipe?
I second this question: I have a shrimp allergy but I love Pad Thai!
How spicy is this? My kids love Thai food but hate spice! Im wondering if I should leave the Serrano pepper out or if we’d miss the flavor. Thanks!
It’s not very spicy in my opinion, but I do like spicy food. You could always cook the diced Serrano in a separate pan and let family members add as they please. I normally do this with extra peppers so I can turn up the heat on my plate :) – Jason
What brand of fish sauce do you use?
Red Boat Fish Sauce is only 3 ingredients: anchovies, water, and salt. Lisa has a link to it in her recipe.
Looks really good! Would love some adult lunch ideas to bring to work :)