PSU Eats: Cozy Thai Bistro's Pad Thai Copycat
Updated: Oct 5
After the pandemic left me Cozy Thai-less, I was determined to find a proper Pad Thai copycat to fill the void. Copycat score: 8.5/10.
I never ate out in college; I was somewhat of an anomaly.
This is due in part to the fact that I am GF and State College has slim pickings for a diet like mine. Also, I followed a mantra where if I could make it at home, I would. You could call it a broke college student mentality.
Some restaurants, however, have something so special that there’s no point in trying to replicate it.
BUT, when there’s a will and a pandemic that forces you to leave college months prior without a second to come to terms with your last Field Burger and milkshake, there’s a way.
This week I am sharing my attempts to replicate what I consider to be the Happy Valley “unreplicatables.”
My class and I didn’t get the proper goodbye; a gluttonous day spent eating and drinking at all of our favorite PSU spots. So, I came across ample time, thank you and hate you Corona, and I created a bunch of PSU copycat recipes that have made me so happy. Now I want to share them with you.
Here’s the first, and it starts with Cozy Thai Bistro.
I remember the first time I stepped into Cozy Thai like it was yesterday; the ambience of the candle lighting with the pungent yet somehow non-startling smell of dog food in the air. Little did I know I would contribute plenty of money to this establishment in my soon-to-be-realized Pad Thai addiction.
4.5 semesters just wasn't enough. The q left me wanting more. So, I tried to make my own Pad Thai, a feat I swore I would never do.
I tried all different kinds of pre-made pad thai sauces and nothing came close. After tons of research and multiple attempts, I finally created a bangin’ copycat.
It truly brought Cozy Thai into my home; the sweet, warm noods with the crunch of peanuts and bean sprouts... you have to try it.
Subtly warn your fam or roommates about the smell, and get cooking.
A NOTE ON HOW I WRITE RECIPES:
I am not a critically acclaimed chef nor am I trying to come across as such. I write my recipes with a candid, imperfect tone because I’m learning and so are you.
I am a firm believer in empowering a cook instead of telling them exactly what to do. So, there is no intricate description like every other mommy blog you come across. I just share the ingredients I use and the gist of how I put it all together.
If you ever have a question, hmu.
Serves 2, or 1 by Cozy Thai standards
- 7oz rice noodles, recommended noodles available at Wegmans, half the package
- 2 tbs peanut oil (see Tip)
- 1 clove garlic, roughly minced
- A big handful of shrimps, about 10 pieces
- 1 egg
- A handful of carrots, julienned
- ¼ cup green onion, chopped
- A handful of bean sprouts
- ¼ cup unsalted peanuts, crushed
- ¼ cup shredded cabbage as garnish
- 1 tbs peanut oil (see Tip)
- 1 clove garlic, roughly minced
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup tamarind paste in ¼ cup water to reconstitute it
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup peanut butter
TIP: While I used peanut oil, you can use vegetable or canola.
HERE’S A SUMMARY OF WHAT TO DO:
Soak the noodles in warm water for 20 minutes.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add all of the sauce ingredients in order except the peanut butter. Simmer then add the PB and stir.
In a large skillet, heat oil over med high - high and add garlic. When fragrant, add shrimp.
Cook until just pink then add the egg. Let the egg start to cook slightly, then combine.
Put some veggies to the side for garnish, and add the majority with the shrimp and egg. Stir and cook for about 3 - 4 minutes. While cooking, drain the noods.
Add noodles, sauce, and half of the peanuts. Thoroughly combine and move often for about 4 - 5 minutes until the noodles are cooked through. Cooking is done.
Garnish and enjoy.
See Notes on the recipe below.
Check out my Pad Thai TikTok recap to get the gist.
COPYCAT SCORE: 8.5/10.
Why is it not a 10/10?
There’s a certain magic that’s contained in the Cozy Thai Bistro kitchen; years of Pad Thais produced on the reg with chefs that could make the dish with their eyes closed.
The sauce is really close, but it doesn’t soak the same. Otherwise, the differences are minimal. This recipe is a great copycat, and I will be using it to fill the void.
NOTES ON THE RECIPE:
This recipe uses a good amount of ingredients that may not be in your pantry if you don't usually cook Asian or Thai food (fish sauce, rice wine vinegar). You may be thinking the recipe is too out there or you will buy these ingredients and never use them again, but here's some good news.
These ingredients are staples of their own cuisine which means you can make all different kinds of Asian food with them. Also, these ingredients have a really long shelf life. Think of it as an investment for your pantry and capabilities.
This recipe is rolling at a high temp. Because of it, you have to keep the Pad Thai moving often. From the girl who has accidentally made some crispy noodles, make sure you are on top of it.
Enjoy the recipe, and let me know how it turns out! If you decide to make it, tag me @MsAceofTrades and use #HappyValleyAtHome.
Next up: Sowers Harvest Chipotle Bacon Egg Sandwich.