Aug 25, 2023

How to turn leftover roast chicken or vegetables into a glorious pad thai

… or use leftover veg, or tofu, or any other leftover meat – pad thai is versatile enough to make tasty use of them all

Jane Alty, chef/patron of Thai restaurant The Begging Bowl in Peckham, south-east London, says: “One of the reasons pad thai is so well known internationally is because it’s so versatile. Any protein left over from the night before – roast pork or chicken, say, or leftover vegetables – can be used up in this fabulous dish.” Wherever possible, I like to make food with local, seasonal fresh vegetables and fruit, and pair them with various imported dried and preserved ingredients to create a unique fusion of flavours.

I’ve simplified this recipe so it’s easy to make at home using leftover roast chicken, and even 70g or so of shredded meat picked off the carcass is enough to make a great pad thai. If you like, use tofu or leftover roast vegetables instead of roast meat, and vegetarian or vegan “fish” sauce.

Rice noodles, fish sauce and tamarind concentrate are available in most wholefood stores and large supermarkets. For the less accessible exotic ingredients such as palm sugar, dried prawns and salted daikon, I’ve offered alternatives or left them as optional; otherwise, buy them from south-east Asian food stores or online. Even without these authentic ingredients, pad thai is a lovely and fun dish to make at home and use up leftovers.

Have all the ingredients prepped and in separate bowls, much like a street food vendor would, ready to make your pad thai to order.

Serves 2

100g dried, 2-3mm-wide, flat rice noodles 20g palm sugar, grated, or granulated brown sugar3 tbsp tamarind concentrate 2 tbsp fish sauce 1 tbsp vegetable oil 6 spring onions, white parts finely sliced, green parts roughly chopped2 eggs 150g leftover roast chicken, shredded20g dried prawns, roughly chopped (optional)2 tbsp preserved daikon, chopped, or sauerkraut (optional)120g mung beansprouts (80g for cooking, 40g to serve) 60g roast peanuts (30g roughly chopped for cooking, 30g to serve) Red chilli flakes, to taste (optional)2 lime wedges, to serve

Soak the rice noodles in water for two hours, then drain. Meanwhile, mix four tablespoons of boiling water with the grated palm sugar, stir to dissolve, then add the tamarind concentrate and fish sauce.

Put a wok or large frying pan on a high heat, add the vegetable oil, then stir-fry the spring onion whites until they start to colour. Crack in the eggs, break the yolks and leave to set a little, then chop up and lift away so the pieces of egg are not in contact with the heat from the pan.

Add the drained noodles, shredded roast chicken, dried prawns, preserved daikon and the tamarind sauce mixture, then stir-fry for a couple of minutes, until the noodles absorb the sauce and are heated through. Take off the heat, stir in the spring onion tops, 80g beansprouts and 30g chopped roast peanuts, and serve immediately topped with the extra bean sprouts, roast peanuts, chilli flakes, if using, and lime wedges.

2100g dried, 2-3mm-wide, flat rice noodles 20g palm sugar3 tbsp tamarind concentrate 2 tbsp fish sauce 1 tbsp vegetable oil 6 spring onions2 eggs 150g leftover roast chicken20g dried prawns2 tbsp preserved daikon120g mung beansprouts60g roast peanutsRed chilli flakes2 lime wedges