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Recipes & Food Styling

Shrimp Pad Thai

Oct 3, 2022 | Food Styling, Recipes, Shrimp, Thai

Bring on the Singha! A Shrimp Pad Thai like I remember it from the old neighborhood!

When our beloved Thai restaurant Bamee shuttered many years ago, I never thought I’d get to taste pad thai like theirs ever again. We’d sit out front on the patio night after night and sip mango lassi as we watched our East Lakeview neighbors pass back and forth along the sidewalk.

Across the street was Monsignor Murphy’s, where my friends Dave and Catherine cuddled up to the bar after work on many nights.

One block north, on the East side of Broadway, was the Bagel, where I’d call on Danny Wolf for his endless information for Kosher food stories time and time again.

Bamee’s Pad Thai was a heap of tangy, peanut-y comfort, and a there was such a wonderful crunch from the crushed peanuts. It was amazing washed down with an icy cold bottle of Singha after a long, hard and sweaty hot day of flying home from Europe.

“How do they do it?” I wondered time and again.

After the sad closing of our little neighborhood treasure – the tiny hideaway where my dad and mom became obsessed with Thai food – we discovered Penny’s Noodle Shop. In London, I fell in love with the Pad Thai at the Churchill Arms pub, where we’d sit outside under the baskets overflowing with English flowers, munching on rice noodles and hoping for a chance spotting of Princess Diana. In all of my hundreds of visits to Kensington, I never did see her. The food was so incredible at both very special places, but nothing could ever quite compete with the homespun coziness of Bamee.

Today, I tried making Pad Thai as close as I could to how I remember it from those wonderful days in the 90s at Bamee in Lakeview. Next time, I will know not to cook the rice noodles for too long, and I won’t include as much tamarind paste. However, all-in-all, this turned out pretty close to one of my absolute favorite meals of all time!

Shrimp Pad Thai

1 package thin, flat rice noodles

4 Tablespoons sesame oil

1/2 pound wild-caught shrimp

1 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns

6 limes

2 cups napa cabbage, chopped finely

2 cups red cabbage, chopped finely

1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into thin, diagonal slices

2 whole shallots, sliced thinly

1 bunch scallions (green onions)

1 red bell pepper, cleaned and sliced into thin strips

1 Tablespoon ginger, grated

1 Tablespoon garlic, minced

1 small bunch baby bok choy, chopped thinly 

2 medium eggs, fried

1 cup peanut sauce

1 Tablespoon tamarind sauce

1 cup peanuts, crushed   

2 pinches crushed red peppers

In a kettle full of water on the stovetop, boil water; add noodles. Boil noodles for 3 to 5 minutes. (Rice noodles cook much faster than pasta noodles; watch carefully, and be ready to pull them quickly.)

Using a strainer in the sink, drain the noodles. 

De-vein the shrimp, and clean them well in cold water in the sink. Remove their tails.

In a frying pan on the stovetop, heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. When oil is good and hot, add the shrimp. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the juice of two limes. Flip the shrimp after 2 minutes. Cook the shrimp on their other sides for another 2 minutes, or just until they are pink on both sides; no longer translucent. Remove the shrimp from the frying pan, and set them aside on a plate on the counter.

Heat the two remaining tablespoons of sesame oil in the frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the cabbages, carrots, shallots, scallions, red bell pepper strips, ginger, garlic, and the white parts of the baby bok choy. Reserve the green tops of the baby bok choy for garnish on top of the finished dish. Stir fry this for 6 to 8 minutes. 

Create an opening in the middle of the stir fry ingredients, and fry the eggs in the center. 

Mix the fried egg in with the stir-fried vegetables. Add in the noodles and sauces and mix together thoroughly. Add in the shrimp. Simmer for 30 minutes over medium heat. Just at the end, add in the crushed red peppers and the crushed peanuts; reserve 1 tablespoon of the crushed peanuts for garnish.

Place the pad Thai in a serving bowl, and squeeze the juice of two limes over the top. Scatter finely chopped baby bok choy tops, scallions and the reserved 1 tablespoon of crushed peanuts on top. Serve with a lime wedge on each plate. 

Serve with a bottle of icy cold Singha!