low carb pad Thai with prawns

Pad Thai has always been one of my favourite local dishes when travelling in Thailand, as I loved the soft rice noodles complemented by the crunchy vegetables and peanuts, and the salty-sour sauce based on Tamarind and lime. And it’s great fun standing at a street stall watching the chef whisking all the fresh ingredients together in a minute-long whirlwind. It didn’t matter to me which protein they used, chicken, prawns or tofu. Now, we’re making our own delicious low carb pad Thai at home, thanks to the zero carb shirataki noodles from Japan. So good.

Because, amazingly, the shirataki version does taste like the original. I truly cannot tell the difference. This is because shirataki noodles consist mainly of water and are practically flavourless – just as rice noodles! Made from the Japanese konjac yam, these zero carb, zero calorie noodles have been popular in Asian cuisines for centuries – and are now bursting into the West’s healthy eating scene. Thanks to that, they are increasingly available in the west – at good grocery stores, large supermarkets and of course online. Find more information about these noodles’ benefits online, for example on this keto blog.

A little history

Pad Thai is sold everywhere in Thailand, in restaurants and food stalls along the roads and lanes. But it is not the country’s most traditional dish. In fact, it was created only in the 1930s – as part of a government campaign to strengthen Thai national identity. “In the late 1930s, Thai prime minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram – one of the leaders who orchestrated an end to the country’s absolute monarchy – was committed to establishing a national identity to unite the nation through culture”, writes the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post in a fascinating piece about pad Thai’s roots. It was based on a noodle dish introduced to the kingdom of Siam (as Thailand was called at the time) by Chinese traders in the 1700s, and enriched by adding more fresh and healthy ingredients.

So we learn that the origins of pad Thai are both culinary and political!


a wooden board displaying ingredients for low carb pad Thai: raw prawns, shirataki noodles, eggs, peppers, bean sprouts, soy and tamarind sauces, garlic and spring onion

How to make pad Thai

Making low carb pad Thai with shirataki noodles is super easy, it just needs a little bit of cutting time and step-by-step frying. But once all is set and prepared, start the whirlwind, and you can enjoy the noodles in no time. I have chosen prawns for this recipe. But you can just as well make it with chicken or tofu instead.

The shirataki noodles usually come packed in liquid. So you simply drain the noodles and rinse them with fresh water before boiling them in saltwater for two minutes.

One note on the sauce: The original pad Thai sauce contains soy sauce, fish sauce and tamarind sauce. While the latter may not be easy to stumble upon in your nearby supermarket, it can be easily ordered online. I do strongly recommend to buy some, as tamarind is essential to the characteristic sour-salty taste of the sauce. And if you like pad Thai, you will use it up in no time. Having said that: If you really can’t get tamarind, increase the amount of lime juice you add in the end until you feel the dish contains enough acid. I have read that some restaurants in the West use ketchup as tamarind replacement, but please, PLEASE do not copy that ….. lime juice is a much better replacement. Speaking of replacements: if you can’t get lime, use lemon instead. That is totally fine.

Higher carb option

For family & friends not into shirataki pasta, use flat rice noodles instead. They come dried and hard in packets. Place them in a bowl and pour warm water over them. Let them soak for a few minutes in warm water until they resemble al dente Italian pasta. They shouldn’t be completely soft before you stir-fry them, as they will soak up additional liquid. After taking the noddles out of the water and rinsing them, mix them with a little sesame oil to prevent them from sticking together. You can then stir-fry the whole thing in the same way as with shirataki pasta.


For many, pad Thai is one of three dishes that springs to mind when thinking about Thai food. The other two are the spicy tom yum goong soup and green curry. The three are on the menu of practically every Thai restaurant worldwide. Try my green chicken curry recipe if you like, or this delicious version of tom yum on the blog eatingthaifood.com. Enjoy!

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A white plate of pad thai with shirataki pasta, mixed with shrimp, carrots, bean sprouts and egg, sprinkled with peanuts and served with a lime

low carb pad Thai with prawns


  • Author: Christiane
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x

Description

Low carb version of our favourite Thai noodle dish! With shirataki pasta, your pad Thai is just the same as the original rice noodle based fare. Just get ready to stir-fry it with shrimp, eggs, veggies, peanuts and the characteristic sauce.


Scale

Ingredients

for 2 servings

250g shirataki noodles

1 large carrot, cut in fine stripes

1 cup of soy bean sprouts

1/2 red pepper, cut in stripes

2 garlic cloves

1 spring onion (only the white part), sliced

2 eggs

16 prawns, peeled and de-veined

12 tbsp tamarind sauce

12 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce, coconut aminos or tamari

1/2 cup of roasted, chopped unsalted peanuts

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (use lemon if you can’t find good lime)

Chili powder to sprinkle

Coconut oil, for frying


Instructions

  1. Prep Work: If you use raw peanuts, roast them in a clean pan or wok until they start to brown. Chop up and set aside. Season the prawns with salt a few minutes before frying. Boil the shirataki pasta for 2 minutes, rinse and set aside.
  2. More prep work: Julienne the carrot as finely as you can – either by chopping them carefully or using a spiralizer. Cut the red pepper into stripes, chop the garlic and finely slice the spring onion. Wash the bean sprouts and remove the long tails (not the side where the bean sprout sits – the other end) and the sprout caps if discoloured. Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt.
  3. Veggies, eggs and prawns need to be fried first – all separately. NOT the soy bean sprouts, though – they will be tossed into the dish raw in the end. Heat a wok, add a spoon of coconut oil and stir-fry carrots and peppers for a few minutes. They should still be a bit crunchy. Set aside.
  4. Then fry the eggs in almost the same way as making omelette, turning it over just before the upper side becomes solid. That way you end up with thinly sliced pieces of soft egg. Set aside, too.
  5. Add a little more oil for the prawns which have to be fried for a minute or two on each side until pink and showing a bit of a golden crisp on each side.
  6. Clean the pan and get ready for the final stage. Add another dollop of coconut oil and throw in the boiled noodles, the veggies, the soy sprouts, eggs and prawns. Mix everything well, and then immediately add the sauce. First, enter one tablespoon of each tamarind, fish and soy sauce. Stir well and taste. If you feel your pad Thai needs more zing, add a bit more of tamarind and fish sauce to taste.
  7. Shove the mix to the sides, creating a hole. Put garlic and spring onion pieces into this hole and fry them for one minute or so until fragrant, before mixing them in.
  8. Add lime juice just before serving and sprinkle your pad Thai generously with peanuts. For added spice, add a pinch or more of chili powder. Serve immediately, with a lime wedge on each plate.

Notes

Instead of prawns, you can use chicken slices or tofu cubes in basically the same way. Fry chicken pieces with a bit of salt. Or fry tofu pieces with a generous amount of oil and a bit of soy and/or fish sauce until brown. Just like the shrimp, they go into the mix towards the end.

  • Category: meals
  • Method: stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Thailand

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 portions
  • Calories: 508
  • Fat: 30.6
  • Carbohydrates: 13.7g net carbs
  • Protein: 42.9g

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