Fans of British prolific cookbook author Jane Hornby know and love her straightforward, trustworthy recipes. And her latest cookbook, Simple & Classic, is a collection of top dishes from her previous books—like this easy-to-follow homemade shrimp pad Thai, which works equally well as an easy weeknight dinner or a refreshingly delicious lunch. The tamarind paste is optional, but it adds a welcome sour, tangy flavor. If you choose to skip it, just lean in a bit more with the lime juice before serving.
Shrimp Pad Thai
Recipe adapted from Simple & Classic by Jane Hornby
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
14 ounces wide rice noodles
One 9-ounce pack firm tofu, drained
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch scallions
1 small bunch fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon vegetable or sunflower oil
3 tablespoons tamarind paste (optional)
3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
3 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1½ tablespoons sugar
1 handful roasted peanuts (optional)
4 large eggs
7 ounces uncooked large shrimp, shelled and deveined
½ teaspoon dried chili flakes (or more, to taste)
1 cup bean sprouts
1. Boil a saucepan or kettle of water. Put the noodles into a large heatproof bowl, then pour over enough just-boiled water to cover. Stir gently and let soak until you get to step 8.
2. While you wait, cut the tofu into cubes about ¾-inch across. Crush the garlic and thinly slice the scallions. Pick the leaves from the cilantro.
3. Put a large nonstick skillet, frying pan, or wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the tofu. Fry for 6 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the tofu is golden all over. Lift the tofu onto paper towels using a slotted spoon. This will absorb any excess oil.
4. Meanwhile, put the tamarind paste, chili sauce, nam pla, and sugar into a small pitcher and stir together. Coarsely chop the peanuts, if using. Crack the eggs into a bowl and loosely beat them with a fork.
5. Put the pan back over high heat. It shouldn't need more oil. Add the shrimp and fry for 2 minutes, until they turn completely pink. Now add the garlic, chili flakes, and half the scallions. Cook for a few seconds, stirring, until the garlic and scallions smell fragrant.
6. Transfer the shrimp to a plate, then add the beaten eggs to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, moving the eggs around the pan a little with a wooden spoon until just set, like an omelet.
7. Lift the omelet out of the pan and transfer it to a cutting board. Roll it up like a pancake, then cut across the roll to make long thin strips. Take the pan off the heat if you feel you need to concentrate on this part.
8. Return the pan to the heat, drain the noodles, and add them to the pan. Add the sauce, most of the cilantro leaves, the shredded egg, tofu, shrimp, the remaining scallions, and a squeeze of lime juice, then toss well.
9. For an authentic look, serve the peanuts and bean sprouts in little piles alongside the noodles, then sprinkle with the rest of the cilantro. Cut the remaining lime into wedges
and put a wedge on each plate.