This Pad Thai with Shrimp recipe has been UPDATED to include Bonita flakes. Dried Bonito flakes, known as katsuo-bushi or katsuobushi in Japanese cuisine, are thin flakes of dried, smoked bonito fish. Like dried shrimp or shrimp paste (often used in Pad Thai), Bonito flakes add a savory flavor to any dish. Bonito is sliced so thinly it melts into soups, sauces, or stews for a umami flavor boost. It makes a difference in this recipe, adding that extra something you can’t quite describe but is pleasant and beyond tasty.
Bonito flakes is available at Whole Foods, which was logistically easier than going to an Asian market for harder to find dried shrimp or paste. I was so pleased with how it improved this Pad Thai I’m inspired to add it to even more recipes!
Who loves Pad Thai?
Every sauce-soaked noodle, crunchy peanut, fresh cilantro and lime part of it!
Yes, but not scorched-earth spicy (a.k.a. Thai hot), I prefer just-gets-your-attention spicy, somewhere around medium, please. I’m not looking for a bead of sweat to form on my brow, so there’s Sriracha on the table to adjust the spice to your liking.
Good, glad we got that cleared up.
Years ago when we lived in California my husband developed a love for Pad Thai while working in L.A. His affinity and discriminating taste for what he remembers from his time there has made it difficult to find a comparable favorite here in Colorado. We did find one restaurant that comes pretty close, but driving across town isn’t convenient. What do you do when you want great Pad Thai? You make it at home!
If you’ve never tried making Pad Thai at home it might seem intimidating, but the ingredients are easier to find than you might imagine. Stores like Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, and even King Soopers carry items like tamarind paste, Bonito flakes, and fish sauce, though King Soopers stopped carrying bean sprouts. Don’t worry about buying something you’ll only use for one recipe, once you have these items on-hand you’ll be prepared to try even more Thai recipes. And you’ll definitely want to make this again …
Pad Thai with Shrimp is a quick and easy weeknight meal—once all the ingredients are prepped it is on the table in just minutes.
When I posted a Pad Thai with Beef recipe a couple of years ago, a reader reminded me that shrimp or pork are more commonly used for Pad Thai—at the time I was simply trying to be a little different. Whether you choose beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, or some combination, cook the meat separately and toss-in at the end to avoid overcooking. For this recipe I recommend buying larger shrimp and cutting them in half lengthwise rather than buying a smaller variety. In my experience, larger shrimp have a better taste and texture; cutting them in half allows for more bites of shrimp throughout.
Shrimp, chopped peanuts, and fresh cilantro twirled into a bed of rice noodles with a savory sauce is just the kind of dish to infuse a little adventure into your weeknight menu. The finishing squeeze of fresh lime is like the exclamation point declaring, “Of course you can make this at home!”
Inspired by Emeril’s Pad Thai
- 8 ounces dried rice noodles
- ¼ cup fish sauce, like Red Boat Fish Sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 3-4 tablespoons coconut palm sugar, adjust to taste
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1¼ pound shrimp 16-20 count; peeled and deveined, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups green onions (2-3 bunches), white and green parts separate, chopped
- 8 ounces bean sprouts (about 2 cups), rinsed and dry
- 1½ tablespoons Bonito flakes, chopped
- ½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 lime, cut into wedges for garnish
- In a large bowl, combine the noodles with enough warm water to cover. Soak until just tender, about 30 minutes, then drain and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, vinegar, lime juice, tamarind paste, crushed red pepper, and sugar; stir until the tamarind paste and sugar dissolves and is well blended. Set aside.
- In a wok or large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds or fragrant. Add the shrimp and cook until shrimp becomes pink in color and mostly cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate and cover loosely to keep warm.
- Add the eggs to the skillet and cook, stirring to break up into small pieces, about a minute. Add the white part of the onions and cook for 2 minutes to soften (add more oil if needed). Add the sprouts, Bonito flakes, green part of the onions, fish sauce mixture, and most of the noodles; cook over medium heat until mixed well and warmed through, stirring frequently. Note: I add most of the noodles at first, then add more based on how well the sauce is covering everything in the skillet. Sometimes the noodles soak up more sauce depending on the brand and type.
- Add the reserved shrimp and peanuts, and cook for 30 seconds to incorporate into the noodles. Finally, toss with the cilantro and serve immediately with lime wedges and Sriracha sauce on the side.
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