PAD THAI WITH CRISPY CHICKEN SKIN
One of the calling cards of Thai Cuisine, Pad Thai remains one of the best-loved and widely known Thai dishes across the globe. A little sour, a little sweet, a little spicy and best of all, fast – it’s easy to understand the appeal.
This recipe started for us with one of my favourite things – leftover roast chicken. One of the glories of Pad Thai is that it is extremely editable – seafood, tofu, fish, chicken and more. It makes a wonderful way to use up scraps from your fridge and pantry. Originally we added some shredded leftover chicken to our usual Pad Thai Base and then decided to roast some of the remaining chicken skin and crumble over the top of the pad thai for extra texture and added flavour. It was a triumph! So much so that We always want a dusting of crisp chicken skin on all future dishes, not limited to noodles!
However, roasting an entire chicken just for the use in Pad Thai seemed a little excessive – so we reworked the recipe using a single Skin-on Chicken Breast so you can whip this up whenever.
THE PAD THAI
1 Large Skin-on Chicken Breast
150g King Prawns, tract removed
2 Medium Eggs, lightly whisked
100g Dried Flat Rice Noodles, or Pad Thai noodles, 5mm wide
A Small Onion or Shallot, finely diced
1 Garlic Clove, minced
50g Toasted Peanuts, crushed
100g Bean Sprouts, plus extra for garnish
4 Spring Onions, chopped into inch-long batons
1 Lime, cut into wedges
Generous Pinch of Salt & Pepper
1 tsp. Palm Sugar, or brown sugar
1 tsp. Tamarind Concentrate
50ml Fish Sauce
100ml Hot Water
1 tsp. Paprika
Coriander Leaves, a handful
Beansprouts, a handful
As outlined above, this recipe originated using roast chicken leftovers – a practise we heartily recommend – If you wish to follow in our footsteps, you can simply substitute the chicken breast for 150g of shredded chicken. For the chicken skin – follow the same steps as outlined below, but half the cooking time.
Tip – Pad Thai can often be quite a sweet dish balanced out with sour and spice. We prefer our Pad Thai a little less sweet than some, if you prefer your Pad Thai sweeter, simply add an extra teaspoon of sugar.
- Place the palm sugar into a mixing bowl along with the tamarind concentrate and the hot water. Whisk together until the palm sugar has dissolved and the tamarind concentrate is incorporated.
Tip – If you cannot find tamarind concentrate, you can use tamarind paste instead, though you may need to double or treble the quantities – taste accordingly.
- Add the fish sauce and paprika and whisk together until fully and evenly mixed. Set aside until needed.
PREPARING THE CHICKEN & CHICKEN SKIN
- Preheat the oven to 180Cº.
- Remove the skin from the chicken breast and set aside. Cut the chicken breast into thin, 5mm slices cross-ways. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Lay the chicken skin skin-side down and scrape off any excess fat or remaining meat from the skin.
- Lay the skin stretched out flat onto a greaseproof-paper-lined baking tray. Season the skin with salt and then place a second layer of greaseproof-paper over the chicken skin and then weigh-down with a second baking tray.
- Place the trays into the oven and bake the skin for 15-20 minutes until just-golden and crisp.
- Leave the chicken skin to cool and crisp up further on kitchen roll.
- Break or dice the chicken skin into small pieces to be used as a garnish and set aside until needed.
THE PAD THAI
- Place the rice noodles into a large bowl of luke-warm water and leave to soak for 20-30 minutes. You want the noodles to be softened and pliable but not cooked through and still hold a slight rigidity if you were to bend them – think slightly firmer than al dente pasta. Leave them to soak in the water up until the moment you cook them.
TIP – Lay out all of your ingredients within easy reach, ideally in the order you will be using them in – the entire cook time will take about 5-6 minutes so organisation pays huge dividends!
- Place a large pan or wok over a high heat with a generous lug of groundnut oil. Add the onion to the pan and cook for about 30 seconds, moving around the pan continuously to prevent the onions from burning. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds before adding in the chicken into the pan. Stir-fry the chicken for about 1 minute until suitably sealed on all sides. Add the prawns into the pan and sear on both sides for about a minute.
- Delicately add the soaked noodles into the pan and mix together. Add the sauce and cook for about 2-3 minutes until almost all of the sauce has been absorbed by the noodles but remains loose.
- Add half the crushed peanuts, the bean sprouts and the whiter, firmer ends of the spring onion batons into the noodles, mix together and then push the noodles to one side of the pan. This will lightly warm through the bean sprouts and spring onions whilst keeping a bit of texture. Add the eggs to the now-empty-side of the pan and cook until just starting to set – at which point scramble the eggs and incorporate the noodles to the rest of the pan, mixing in with the scrambled egg.
- Finally, add the remaining green tips of the spring onion batons, a few coriander leaves and serve the Pad Thai immediately with the remaining crushed peanuts, chilli flakes, extra bean sprouts, lime wedges and the chicken skin pieces. Don’t skip on the lime!