Prawn Pad Thai is probably the most famous of all Thai noodle dishes. It’s always a safe bet to serve this dish because everybody loves it, even the fussiest of eaters. The deliciously pungent tamarind is the key ingredient in this Pad Thai Prawn recipe, which has been created by Saiphin Moore, head chef and owner of Rosa’s Thai Cafe.
Inspired to cook by her mother when she was just six, Saiphin embarked on a culinary journey that has transported her from her small hometown – Phetchabun, in northern Thailand – to the hustle and bustle of London’s East End. Saiphin’s career as a chef began over 19 years ago, and she has not looked back since. Starting out, whilst still at secondary school, Saiphin opened up a grocery store in Phetchabun – her first business venture, which not only served and supported the local community on a daily basis, but would, down the line, go on to play a pivotal role in her long-term ambition to become a restaurateur. Due to its success, Saiphin decided to open a small restaurant, cooking and selling a number of homemade favourites to locals, including prawn pad thai, noodle broths and rice dishes. Saiphin soon realised the extent of her passion for cooking and, in 2001, she travelled to Hong Kong; it was here in 2006 that Saiphin met Alex, her husband-to-be and also her business partner. The couple moved to London, which was when their simple street stall began trading on Brick Lane, offering a takeaway service of home-cooked Thai food. It soon led to the purchase of an archetypal British ‘caff’ in Spitalfields, where, in June 2008, Rosa’s Thai Café was officially launched.
Now with six sites in London, along with significant investment from the Angel Investment Network, the group is quickly gaining momentum. Offering delicious, authentic Thai food against a quirky, relaxed, kitsch cafe-style backdrop, Saiphin’s cooking has continued growing from strength to strength. Like any great chef, Saiphin has a number of stunning signature dishes, including: crispy soft shell crab topped with Thai herbs; sweet roasted pumpkin, balanced in an aromatic red curry; and pineapple and seafood fried Thai Jasmine rice with raisins, cashew nuts and pepper,
all served in a large hand-carved Pineapple boat.
4 eggs, beaten
300g (10oz) rice noodles, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes, and then drained
8–10 prawns, shelled, deveined and heads removed
2 handfuls of beansprouts
Chilli powder, to taste (optional)
Bunch of Chinese chives, or 2 spring onions, chopped
4 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed
Lime wedges, to serve for the pad Thai sauce
3 tablespoons tamarind pulp
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
Method for pad thai sauce
1 Soak the tamarind pulp in 6 tablespoons of warm water, and then stir until it becomes a thick liquid.
2 Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wok, add the shallots and stir-fry until almost golden brown.
3 Carefully add the tamarind (in case it spits) and cook for 1 minute to reduce slightly.
4 Add the palm sugar, stirring to break it up, then stir in the fish sauce and continue to cook over a high heat for 1 minute until it has thickened slightly.
5 Transfer the Pad Thai sauce to a bowl and set aside. This recipe makes enough sauce for about 4 servings, so store any leftover Pad Thai sauce in an airtight container and use within 4 weeks.
Method for the noodles
1 Scramble the beaten eggs in a hot wok with the remaining oil, then add the noodles and stir-fry until the egg breaks up and the noodles are soft.
2 Add the prawns and stir-fry until they are nearly cooked.
3 Mix in 8 tablespoons of the reserved Pad Thai sauce and continue to stir-fry until the noodles take on a nice golden brown colour.
4 Add the bean sprouts, chilli powder (if using), Chinese chives and crushed peanuts and keep stir-frying for another
5 Transfer the noodles to 2 serving plates and serve immediately with lime wedges.