Pad Thai Sauce

  • Prep Time
    30 minutes
  • Cook Time
    5 minutes to cook the tamarind pulp in boiling water
  • Serving
  • View

My favorite Pad Thai is at Café Equator on Severn in Metairie.  I have tried to get them to tell me how they make their Pad Thai sauce, but the proprietress keeps telling me to “guess.”  She probably goes into the kitchen when I leave and says, “Stupid woman, she thinks I am going to teach her how to cook Thai food!” After many guesses and countless cookbook renditions that just didn’t make the grade, I came up with this recipe.  You might want to tweak the tanginess with more or less Tamarind paste, but these proportions are pretty trustworthy.  A good Pad Thai sauce balances sweet, sour, tangy, salty and spicy.  Yes, that’s a lot going on so I strongly recommend going to a really good Thai restaurant and finding a Pad Thai dish that you like.  It goes without saying, but it’s easier to cook something that you like when you know what you like!  And, believe it or not, I have been fairly successful in getting waiters, waitresses, restaurant owners and chefs to share recipes and kitchen secrets with me.  It never hurts to ask.



    Go to the Asian market and get a block of tamarind pulp.

    Step 1

    Put a 1.5 ounce block of tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir often until the pulp melts into the water. Then, strain the sauce, pressing the solids against the sieve so that you have a dark brown sauce in a small bowl or measuring cup.

    Step 2

    Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Set aside.


    You need to taste this and play with the flavors. If you need more "sour," add a few teaspoons full of tamarind concentrate (the Sour Soup base with the blue top in the Asian market). Or add more sugar or lime juice if needed. The sauce is everything in Pad Thai, and tamarind pulp is essential.

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