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Pad Cha Talay Recipe (Spicy Thai Seafood Stir-Fry)

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This pad cha talay recipe is packed with fiery spices and fresh herbs like holy basil, kaffir lime leaves, and fingerroot. It’s a quick, easy, and spicy Thai seafood stir-fry perfect for a hectic day. Serve it with a bowl of fluffy rice to temper the heat.

Pad cha talay with shrimp, squid, and red chilies in a white dish for a Thai seafood meal.

Don’t miss out on some of my best spicy Thai stir-fry recipes: the delicious moo pad prik pao – a chili paste stir-fry, the authentic pad kee mao, or the chicken and chili loaded pad prik sod!

What is pad cha talay

Pad cha talay is a classic Thai spicy seafood stir-fry, beloved for its bold spices and fragrant herbs. This savory dish typically features shrimp and squid, blended with holy basil and fingerroot tossed in a lightly sweet, umami-rich sauce.


“Pad” in Thai translates to stir-fry, “cha” means sizzling in a wok, and “talay” is seafood. The name of this seafood dish refers to the ingredients sizzling in a super hot wok over high heat.

Spicy Thai seafood stir-fry

A crazy hot wok loaded up with the freshest seafood you can find. That’s the magic of pad cha seafood!

Seafood pad cha with shrimp and squid, fresh peppercorns, kaffir lime leaves, and chilies, served in a white dish.

I love it with juicy shrimp, fresh squid, and a bunch of Thai bird’s eye chilies. This is a recipe for those who live for the spice and crave a kick in every bite.

If you don’t like spicy food, you can simply use fewer chilies to tone down the heat.

It’s one of the most interesting Thai stir-fries, since there’s so many herbs and spices, like fresh peppercorns and kaffir lime leaves. Most spices can be found at an Asian grocery store or at Asian markets.

Close-up of pad cha seafood highlighting stir-fried squid, shrimp, holy basil, and kaffir lime, with a side of rice.

Everything is tossed in a savory, spicy, and umami-loaded pad cha sauce made of fish sauce, oyster sauce, and golden mountain.

Make sure to give it a try at home because it’s not your typical street food find in Thailand!

Why try this spicy seafood recipe

  • Perfect for spice lovers: This fiery stir-fry is loaded with Thai bird’s eye chilies, perfect for those who love a spicy dish.
  • Authentic Thai flavors: This Thai recipe for pad cha is the real deal, approved by my Thai grandmother.
  • Healthy and delicious: Not only is pad cha talay loaded with healthy proteins and vitamins, it’s also can’t stop eating delish.
  • Quick and easy: Despite the complex flavors, this recipe is super easy to make.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Top-view of ingredients for pad cha talay with bird's eye chilies, holy basil, garlic, pad cha sauce, and sugar.
  • Shrimp, squid – Choose your favorite protein – shrimp, squid, scallops, clams, or even a firm white fish. Protein-rich seafood are perfect for authentic pad cha talay. I personally prefer using fresh seafood from Asian or fish markets.
  • Fresh peppercorns – Fresh peppercorns add a distinct, subtle heat and a depth of flavor. Fresh peppercorns can be sourced from Asian grocery stores or ordered online.
  • Kaffir lime leaves – A staple in Thai cuisine for its unique citrusy aroma, infusing the dish with a refreshing note.
  • Fingerroot – Fingerroot aka kra chai in Thai cooking, adds a unique, slightly peppery and earthy flavor.
  • Holy basil – Holy basil adds a peppery, slightly spicy flavor that’s distinct from other types of basil like sweet basil. Check out Asian grocery stores or ask the employees where to buy holy basil.
  • Chilies – Use Thai bird’s eye chilies or Jinda chilies, pad cha talay is a really spicy seafood stir-fry. Add to taste.
  • Garlic
  • Pad cha sauce: fish sauce, oyster sauce, golden mountain sauce – Fish sauce provides a salty umami, oyster sauces adds a savory note, and golden mountain sauce brings its own unique, slightly soy-like taste.
  • White sugar – A bit of sugar is crucial for balancing out the savory and spicy flavor. Thai cooking is all about finding that perfect flavor balance, which is why we often use sugar.

Cooking instructions

A three-step instruction for making pad cha talay, showing sautéed garlic and chilies, seafood sizzling in a wok, and the final toss with fresh herbs.

1. Sauté garlic and chilies: Preheat oil in a wok over high heat and sauté crushed garlic and chilies until golden and fragrant, about 20 seconds.

2. Add seafood and season: Slide in cleaned shrimp and squid, stir-fry until they’re almost done. At this point, add the sauces and seasoning: oyster sauce, fish sauce, golden mountain, and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

3. Finish with fresh herbs: Toss in kaffir lime leaves, fresh peppercorns, and fingerroot, cooking for approx 30 seconds to a minute, tops. Finally, turn off the heat, add holy basil, and give it a final stir. Serve immediately with rice.

Kitchen tools

  • Mortar and pestle for crushing chilies and garlic
  • Cutting board and chef’s knife
  • Tongs for flipping the seafood
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Large wok pan with spatula

Recipe tips and tricks

  • Don’t overcrowd your pan: Avoid overcrowding and cook in batches if needed.
  • Avoid overcooking: Overcooking seafood will make it rubbery, and no one like rubbery squid.
  • Get the wok hot: Pad cha is supposed to be cooked over high heat in a super hot wok. This ensures a nice sear and locks in the flavors.
  • Taste as you go: Taste your shrimp and squid stir-fry as you cook and adjust seasonings to taste. Always use measurements you find in online recipes as a guideline, everyone has different taste buds.
  • Fresh is best: Fresh seafood, fresh herbs, and fresh spices. So important for authentic Thai food!
  • Prep ahead: Prep and chop your ingredients before you start cooking. You can even mix the stir-fry sauce in advance.

How to serve Thai squid stir-fry

Seafood pad cha is typically served with jasmine rice, which tempers the heat and soaks up all that delicious sauce.

Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro or holy basil leaves. Offer lime wedges or chopped chilies on the side.

How to store and reheat

Store the leftovers of this Thai stir-fry with seafood in an airtight container once they’ve cooled to room temperature. Keep it in the fridge for 1 day max.

Reheating instructions: Personally, I don’t like reheating seafood. If you must reheat, do it gently over low heat on the stove to prevent it from becoming rubbery.

Frequently asked questions

Is seafood pad cha similar to pad thai?

No, both are popular Thai stir-fries, but very different. Seafood pad cha is spicy and aromatic, with the focus on seafood and fresh herbs. Pad Thai is sweeter and nuttier, made with tamarind paste, peanuts, and rice noodles.

Can I use frozen seafood?

My preference is fresh seafood, but you can use frozen and thaw in the fridge overnight or according to package direction.

Can I use a different type of protein?

Yes, feel free to sub the seafood with any kind of protein like chicken, beef, pork, or even tofu.

More spicy Thai recipes you’ll love

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Pad Cha Talay Recipe (Spicy Thai Seafood Stir-Fry)

Pad cha talay with shrimp, squid, and red chilies in a white dish for a Thai seafood meal.
Serve pad cha talay with rice and throw in your favorite seafood.
Praew
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 5.3 ounces shrimp
  • 5.3 ounces squid
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 4 chilies crushed with a mortar and pestle, add to taste
  • 0.7 ounces fingerroot
  • 0.7 ounces fresh peppercorns
  • 0.35 ounces holy basil
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon golden mountain sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons oil

Instructions

  • Preheat oil in a wok over high heat and sauté crushed garlic and chilies until golden and fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  • Slide in cleaned shrimp and squid, stir-fry until they’re almost done. At this point, add the sauces and seasoning: oyster sauce, fish sauce, golden mountain, and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
  • Toss in kaffir lime leaves, fresh peppercorns, and fingerroot, cooking for approx 30 seconds to a minute, tops. Finally, turn off the heat, add holy basil, and give it a final stir. Serve immediately with rice.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • If you can, use fresh seafood and herbs for the best results flavor-wise.
  • Try sourcing the herbs and spices at Asian markets or Asian grocery stores.

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