Alton Brown’s Pad Thai


  • 6 ounces extra-firm tofu, not silken
  • 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 oz tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 4 oz rice stick noodles
  • 1 to 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 cup chopped scallions, divided
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp salted cabbage
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp
  • 3 oz bean sprouts, divided
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped, divided
  • Freshly ground dried red chile peppers, to taste
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


  1. Wrap the tofu firmly in a tea towel and place into an 8-inch cake pan.
  2. Top with another cake pan and weigh down with a 5-pound weight and place in refrigerator and press for 12 to 15 hours
  3. Place pressed tofu in a 2-cup container.
  4. Combine soy sauce and five-spice powder and pour over tofu.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning once.
  6. Place the tamarind paste in 3/4 cups boiling water and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.
  7. Combine the fish sauce, palm sugar, and rice wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
  8. Place the rice stick noodles in a mixing bowl and cover with hot water and set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  9. Once the other ingredients are measured out into separate bowls, drain the water from the noodles and set them aside.
  10. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch wide strips, similar to French fries.
  11. Press the tamarind paste through a fine mesh strainer and add to the sauce, stirring to combine.
  12. Place a wok over high heat. Once hot, add 1 tbsp of the peanut oil. Heat until it shimmers, then add the tofu.
  13. Cook the tofu until golden brown, moving constantly, for no longer than 1 minute. Remove the tofu from the pan to a small bowl and set aside.
  14. If necessary, add some more peanut oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Add 2/3 of the scallions and then the garlic, cook for 10 to 15 seconds.
  15. Add the eggs to the pan; once the eggs begin to set up, about 15 to 20 seconds, stir to scramble.
  16. Add the remaining ingredients in the following order and toss after each addition: noodles, sauce, cabbage, shrimp, and 2/3 of the bean sprouts and peanuts.
  17. Toss everything until heated through, but no longer than 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer to a serving dish.
  18. Garnish with the remaining scallions, bean sprouts, and peanuts. Serve immediately with the ground chile peppers and lime wedges.