Beef Pad Thai


An authentic Pad Thai recipe depends on the holy trinity of chillies, basil and fish sauce.  This recipe uses beef but it is easy to adapt to make Chicken Pad Thai and Prawn Pad Thai.

Serves 4

300g flat noodles
2 limes, juice only
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 sirloin steaks, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sunflower or groundnut oil
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 stick of lemongrass, finely sliced
1-2 red chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 handful beansprouts
1/2 bunch fresh holy basil, shredded
3 tablespoons peanuts, toasted lightly in a dry frying pan
2 limes for serving


1. Cover the noodles with boiling water and let them ‘cook’ until they are soft (it should only take 5-6 minutes but check the instructions on the packet as noodles vary). Drain and rinse with cold water to stop them cooking further (you will reheat them later in the pan).

2. Mix the lime juice, fish sauce, light soy sauce and brown sugar in a bowl and stir.

3. Cut the sirloin steak on the diagonal into thin slices.

4. Heat a large frying pan or wok. Add the oil and the beef and fry over the highest heat, stirring all the time, until the beef is seared on both sides. Remove to a plate. Add the spring onions, lemongrass and chillies (decide whether you want one or two chillies) to the wok and fry for 2 minutes. Add the fish sauce mixture with the beansprouts, toss and cook for a minute or two. Add half the holy basil.

5. Add the cooked noodles and toss well to pick up the sauce. Serve immediately sprinkled with the rest of the holy basil, top with the peanuts for crunch and half a lime for each diner to squeeze over their dish.

Recipe Notes on Pad Thai

– Squeezing lime on the cooked dish brightens it while the peanuts are important for saltiness and crunch (you can leave them out if you don’t have any or use toasted cashews instead).

– You can use a cheaper cut of beef but flatten it first with a meat mallet between two pieces of cling film to tenderise it.

– Use fresh coriander or ordinary basil instead of holy basil (you find holy basil in the Asian shops, it has a liquorice-like flavour).

– Feel free to omit the lemongrass and use finely chopped galangal or ginger instead – a teaspoon should be enough.

– You don’t need salt because the fish sauce and soy sauce act as the seasoning.

How to make Chicken Pad Thai
– Chicken Pad Thai: Replace the beef with 3 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips on the diagonal.
How to make Prawn Pad Thai
– Prawn Pad Thai: Replace the beef with 16 shelled prawns (frozen prawns are fine but defrost them fully before using them).


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