What To Consider When Adding Protein To Homemade Pad Thai

Pad Thai is one of the best noodle dishes out there and, as satisfying as it is to have made for you at your favorite Thai restaurant, it doesn't hurt to learn how to make your own version of the delicious dish. But if you're going to set out to make your own pad Thai, then you'll want to avoid a common mistake: overdoing it with the protein.

According to an expert, Kris Yenbamroong (the chef and owner of the Night + Market restaurants in Los Angeles), it's important to practice restraint when it comes to this. Yenbamroong told GQ, "I feel that a real 'American' take on Pad Thai is to load it up with protein. It shouldn't be one part chicken breast to one part noodle; that's too much. For me, a good Pad Thai uses the protein — whether it's chicken, tofu, prawns — as a nice accent."

Without the overloading of protein, you'll be able to focus on the star of the show: the noodles. Plus, the other ingredients, such as the crushed peanuts or the bean sprouts, will receive attention as well.

How much protein to put in your pad Thai

If you're wondering exactly how much protein is too much for your next batch of homemade Pad Thai, we can look at some of Tasting Table's recipes to get a general consensus for you to keep in mind. Our shrimp Pad Thai calls for 8 ounces of medium shrimp; our mushroom and chicken Pad Thai calls for 10 ounces of chicken breast; and our tofu Pad Thai calls for 16 ounces of tofu. Importantly, each of these recipes contains four servings, which means each serving has between 2 and 4 ounces of protein per serving. This certainly aligns with Kris Yenbamroong's hard rule of keeping the protein to a minimum. 

Going forward, if your protein of choice is meat, a good rule would be to stick to anywhere from 8 to 10 ounces for a portion that serves four people. If you're going the vegetarian route, then you can up that to 16 ounces of tofu. Some may even say that 16 ounces of tofu is pushing it, so you definitely shouldn't go over that amount if you want to adhere to Yeenbamroong's expertise. Of course, if you really want to keep the focus on the noodles or other ingredients, then you can even lessen the protein quantity, perhaps taking it down to somewhere around 4 ounces (which would come out to just one ounce per serving).