My recipe is based on this one from Chez Pim, who makes hers one dish at a time.
Make a meatless version by substituting soy sauce for the fish sauce and leaving out the chicken.
½ cup tamarind pulp (get the brick, soak a 2" block in hot water to cover, then push through a sieve - totally worth the time and effort)
½ cup fish sauce (Rufina Patis is decent; you want the thin stuff)
½ cup palm sugar (or turbinado)
1 tsp or more chili pepper or 1 TBSP Sriracha
water as necessary
Combine tamarind, fish sauce, and sugar in a small pot over low heat, stirring until the sugar melts. Add the chili to taste. Add a little bit of water if necessary to make the sauce the consistency of gravy. You want a pretty tangy sauce - the flavor will be diluted by the vast amount of noodles you're cooking - so adjust ingredients as you like.
Remove from heat and reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce for the table.
1 pkg extra-wide rice noodle
toasted sesame oil
4 eggs, swished up and 1 tsp toasted sesame oil added, ready to scramble
½ lb or so boneless chicken, cut up (optional)
1 lb extra firm tofu in 1" cubes
6 cloves chopped garlic
the pad thai sauce
juice of ½ a lime
a handful of bean sprouts
½ - 1 cup ground peanuts (use sunflower seeds if you're allergic)
1 cup or so green onions, sliced into big pieces, about 1" long
a handful of cilantro, chopped
lime wedges, ground peanuts, chili pepper, bean sprouts, cilantro, pad thai sauce, and fish sauce for the table
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat, add in the noodles, and stir. When noodles are almost al-dente, drain and rinse with cool water. Set aside.
Heat 1 TBSP sesame oil and 1 TBSP olive oil in a large wok over high heat until hot. Add in the eggs and scramble until very softly cooked. Spoon the eggs into a very large bowl.
Heat another bit of oil and add the chicken to the wok, stirring to sear the outside, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the chicken to the bowl. Add the tofu and cook until the tofu browns a bit. Remove to the bowl.
Add 1 TBSP sesame oil and 1 TBSP olive oil to the wok and bring up to heat. Give the drained noodles a rinse and separate them with your hands, then let drain again. Give the garlic a two-second stir-fry, then add in the noodles. Stir in about half of the warm sauce and cook the noodle until tender, mixing everything well. Add more sauce, a couple of tablespoons of water, or a blob of sesame oil if you think the noodles need it. The pad thai should be dry-ish in the end, not soupy, but the noodles should be covered with sauce.
When the noodle is tender, add the ingredients from the bowl, the lime juice, bean sprouts, green onions, and cilantro and just mix them in - don't cook longer than a minute or so. Dump the wok into that big bowl, and serve with the extra vegs and sauce on the side.