If you like pad thai noodles or if you’re looking for a low-carb noodle dish, try this delicious Pad Thai Noodle Salad! Based on world-famous Pad Thai noodles, this salad features bold Thai flavors and an abundance of textures. It’s also light in calories and fat, plus naturally gluten-free and – surprise! – low in carbs (due to the use of rice noodles instead of wheat). Serve it up as a main course or side dish – also makes a beautiful salad to take to a summer potluck, picnic, or cookout.
8 ounces rice noodles
20 to 25 medium uncooked shrimp (tails can be left on)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger, minced)
1 red bell pepper (sliced thinly)
1 stalk celery (sliced thinly)
3 spring onions (sliced thinly)
2 to 3 cups bean sprouts
1 cup fresh cilantro (lightly chopped)
1/2 cup fresh basil (lightly chopped)
1/3 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts (lightly chopped)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the Dressing:
1/2 cup hot water
1 +3/4 tablespoons tamarind paste (*see below for substitutions)
1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1-2 tablespoons chili sauce (or 1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or dried crushed chili)
Steps to Make It
Lightly boil the rice noodles until cooked to al dente.
Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set aside to drain while you prepare other ingredients.
To make the dressing, pour 1/2 cup boiling water into a cup. Add tamarind paste, stirring until dissolved.
Add the sugar, fish sauce and chili sauce, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Taste-test this concoction – it should taste first sweet, then sour, spicy and salty, more or less in that order.
Add more sugar to make it sweeter, or more chili for a spicier salad. (Note that the sugar content must be quite high to balance out the strong sourness of the tamarind.)
Pour 1/4 of this dressing over prepared shrimp (make sure shrimp are well drained beforehand). Stir and set aside to briefly marinate.
Place the red pepper, celery, spring onion, bean sprouts, coriander and basil together in a large salad bowl (hold back a little of the coriander and basil for garnishing later).
Place a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of oil, then add the garlic and ginger.
Stir-fry to release the fragrance (1-2 minutes), then add the shrimp together with the marinade. Stir-fry 3 minutes, or until shrimp have turned pink and plump.
Remove from heat and “pour” these delicious stir-fried shrimp into the salad bowl.
Now add the drained noodles and pour over the remaining dressing. Toss everything well together. (Note: at first you’ll have dressing left in the bottom of the bowl, but gradually the noodles will absorb it.)
Do a final taste-test, adding a little more fish sauce if more flavor is desired, or more chili sauce if it isn’t spicy enough.
Portion out into bowls or plates, adding a final topping of coriander and basil, plus the chopped peanuts. More chili sauce can also be served on the side.
*Tamarind paste is sometimes difficult to find. Look for it at your local Asian grocery store OR East Indian food store, or order it online. If you can’t find it, white vinegar can be used as a substitute. Another substitution is lime juice. In this case, use the juice of 2 limes and reduce hot water by half.