There are many, many ways to cook Pad Thai. As with most Thai foods, you can add any number of ingredients that balance out the four main tastes: sweet, sour, salty, spicy. I prefer an adaptation of the very basic recipe that I found in Real Thai, by Nancie McDermott, which relies on simple ingredients that I usually have in my kitchen. It takes very little time to prepare and everyone at our table loves it.
You will need:
1/2 - 3/4 lb rice stick noodles
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
12 (or so) shrimp
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
one bunch green onions, chopped
First, soak the noodles in a large bowl of hot water for about twenty minutes. While the noodles are softening, start preparing the rest of your ingredients. Mince the garlic, clean, peel and devein the shrimp.
Next, heat about a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil in your wok. Once it is hot, add the garlic and fry until it is a very light brown. Then, add the shrimp and cook until it all pieces are pink. Turn the heat off and carefully remove the garlic and shrimp with a slotted metal spoon and set aside.
Next cook your egg. Heat the remaining oil in the wok and add the two eggs. You can either gently beat them before adding to the pan or, just crack the eggs right in the wok as I do. Let them fry for a few seconds then, using your metal spoon, lightly scramble the egg until it is a golden yellow. Remove the egg from the pan and set aside with the garlic and shrimp.
By this time your noodles should be nice and soft. Drain them in a colander and let sit to remove excess water while you heat another tablespoon or so of oil in the wok. Once the oil is hot add the noodles. Fry them evenly by using two utensils to spread the noodles in a layer over the entire cooking surface of the wok, then lump them together in the center and repeat until they are curled and very soft.
Now, add a handful or two (or three) of the bean sprouts and the green onion and cook for a minute until soft.
Then, add the fish sauce and sugar. (Taste the noodles at this point and decide if you should adjust the flavors more to your taste. More of any combination of ingredients can be added now.) Add the garlic, shrimp and egg and mix thoroughly. At this point you want to be careful of hungry boys or you will find them eating directly from the pan.