Paleo (and Whole30) Chicken Pad Thai with Thai “Peanut” Sauce

img_2661by Karen Frazier

Oh man do I love pad Thai, and it’s something I’ve missed eating in the few years since I went completely paleo. I decided – after 2 1/2 years – to make my own. It’s a bit labor intensive, but if you love pad Thai like I do, it’s well worth the effort. I made my tamarind paste from pods, but if you can find some with paleo/Whole30-approved ingredients, feel free to use that, instead.

Tamarind Paste

  • 10 tamarind pods
  • Boiling water
  1. Peel away all the tough outer shell of the pods, and use a sharp paring knife to remove any of the woody spines and discard them.
  2. Place the tamarind in a heat proof glass measuring cup and just cover them with boiling water. Allow the pods to soak in the hot water for 45 minutes.
  3. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the soaking water and set aside. Discard the rest of the water.
  4. Put the tamarind in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Remove any solids (seeds or more spines) and discard them.
  5. Place a wire mesh sieve over a bowl. Spoon the tamarind into the sieve. Using the back of a wooden spoon, press the tamarind through the sieve. Do this for about five minutes, using a rubber scraper to scrape the paste from the bottom side of the sieve into the bowl every minute or two. You should wind up with about 1/4 cup of the paste. The goal is to get as much of the paste as possible away from the seeds and pulp.
  6. Stir in the reserved liquid.

Thai “Peanut” Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups organic sugar-free almond butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Juice of three limes
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger root
  • 1 thai chili, finely minced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon Red Boat fish sauce

In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth.

Pad Thai

  • 3 tablespoons Red boat fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into thin strips
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced and broken up into rings
  • 1 large carrot, julienned (or grated)
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1/4 cup tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 to 2 thai chilies, finely minced (or to taste)
  • 4 to 6 zucchini, spiralized into spaghetti style noodles (enough for about five cups)
  • 1/4 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, coconut aminos, 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper, and 4 of the garlic cloves. Add the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 8 hours.
  2. In a large skillet or wok, heat two tablespoons of the coconut oil on medium high. Remove the chicken from the marinade and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, five to seven minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, heat the remaining two tablespoons of coconut oil on medium-high. Add the shallots, carrots, red bell peppers, thai chilies, and half of the green onions. Cook, stirring, for one minute.
  4. Add the zucchini noodles and cook, stirring, for three to four minutes more, until the vegetables are crisp tender. Add the remaining 4 garlic cloves and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the tamarind paste, water, and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Return the chicken to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the noodles are coated with sauce and water evaporates, about two minutes more.
  6. Serve garnished with bean sprouts, the remaining green onions, the cashews, the cilantro, and the lime wedges. Spoon peanut sauce over the top.
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