There are as many ways to make Pad Thai as there are cooks in Thailand. It is one of those dishes that each cook will make differently. Some add dried shrimp, some add tofu, some add fresh shrimp, and various sauces are used.
Some Pad Thai doesn't contain rice noodles at all, but most recipes do use them.
The one commonality is the garnish of chopped peanuts. I like the texture contrast of adding fresh beans sprouts. It is important to use a good quality Thai Fish Sauce (nam pla) such as Golden Boy or Dragonfly brand.
In this recipe paprika is used, however it is far more common to use minced chiles or dried Thai chiles. I like the roasted and smokeddry chile flakes.
1 (14-ounce) package medium wide dried rice noodles
1/4 cup fish sauce (Golden Boy Brand is great)
2 tablespoon good-quality Thai soy sauce
4 tablespoons tamarind juice
1/2 cup white vinegar, or rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (I use date palm or raw sugar)
1 cup preserved ground radish
1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, with tails on
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
4 cups bean sprouts
8 ounces tofu cake, fried, cut into small cubes
1 cup finely ground raw peanuts, roasted (should be raw and then roasted)
1 bunch garlic chives, chopped
3 eggs, beaten, cooked, rolled up, and shredded
Lime wedges, optional, for garnish
Soak noodles in hot water until slightly limp; drain and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine fish sauce, soy sauce, tamarind juice, vinegar, sugar, and radish; stir until sugar is dissolved and then set aside. Prepare and measure all of the other ingredients before beginning to cook.
Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. When oil is hot, working quickly, add garlic and shrimp and toss with wooden spoons until shrimp are about halfway done. Add cayenne pepper and paprika and toss to combine. Add noodles and radish mixture and toss well. Add bean sprouts and tofu and toss. Add peanuts and garlic chives and toss. When shrimp is just cooked through and all the ingredients are heated through, remove from heat. Garnish with shredded eggs and lime wedges, if desired. Serve immediately.