Traditional Bangkok-style Pad Thai—where it is the ultimate street food—is dry and light bodied, with a fresh, complex, balanced flavor. It should be reddish-brownish in color, not bright red and oily. It also happens to be one of the most ordered take-out dishes in America.
Commonly, Pad Thai is a stir-fry dish made with rice noodles, shrimp, chicken, or tofu, peanuts, a scrambled egg and bean sprouts. Here is an easy and approachable version made with ground beef and can be made in about 20 minutes.
The typical sauce is made with tamarind paste, palm sugar, fish sauce, and garlic. Now I’ve previously gone the make-it-yourself route, and the easiest and best way to make pad Thai is to make the sauce in advance and use as little or much as you need—which you can refrigerate up to a month; but for this quick recipe, go ahead and buy an already prepared jarred version.
Bulk up the serving size of this Beef Pad Thai recipe by adding in lots of healthy veggies like matchstick carrots, snap peas and scallions. Look for whole-grain brown-rice Pad Thai noodles to add an additional 3 grams fiber to each serving. And OK, if you insist, add in a scrambled egg or two.
Ground Beef Pad Thai
- 8 ounces pad Thai rice noodles, preferably brown rice noodles
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- ¾ pound lean ground beef
- 2 cups stringless snap peas
- 2 cups matchstick carrots
- ½ cup chopped scallions
- ½ cup prepared pad Thai sauce
- Chopped peanuts, cilantro and lime wedges for serving
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles in boiling water according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid and drain the noodles.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, and cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add snap peas, carrots and scallions, and cook, stirring often, until the peas are bright green, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add sauce, the noodles and about half of the reserved cooking liquid; stir with tongs to coat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, adding more of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary and stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
- Serve hot with chopped peanuts, cilantro and lime wedges.