1/2 lb cellophane noodles
1/2 lb shrimp or boneless chicken
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 bunch scallions
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 lb bean sprouts
2 tablespoons red chillies, crushed
3/4 cup peanuts, coarsely ground
Soak noodles for 20-25 minutes in enough warm water to cover them. They should be flexible and soft, but not so soft that they can be mashed easily with the fingers. Drain them thoroughly in a colander while preparing the other ingredients. Traditionally they are left in full-length strands, but you may cut them into 8 inch lengths if you find it easier to stir-fry then that way.
Peel and devein the shrimp leaving the tails intact (or remove if preferred). If using chicken, slice chicken into 1/8 inch strips 1-2 inches long.
Mix the fish sauce, sugar, vinegar, and paprika in a bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Set aside. Slice green onions both the green and white parts, diagonally into 1-1/2 inch long pieces. Set aside.
In wok or large skillet, stir-fry garlic in oil for one minute. Add shrimp and cook until pink. If using chicken stir-fry until pink disappears. Add the noodles and toss lightly to coat with oil and the distribute meat and garlic. Add the reserved sauce and bring it to a boil rapidly, gently folding the noodles without breaking them. Reduce heat to medium and boil the mixture, folding frequently until the noodles have absorbed the liquid (a pasta server works great for this step). Lift the noodles gently from one side of the wok. Pour a little oil along the side of the wok, then break the egg ad slip it into the oil. Break the yolk and cover the egg with the noodles immediately. Repeat this on the opposite side with the other egg. Allow eggs to cook undisturbed, over moderate heat until they are set and almost dry. When the eggs are set and almost dry, fold them gently but rapidly into the noodles. Try not to break the noodles, which will be soft and fragile at this point. An effective way is to insert the scoop under the eggs, lift it through, and fold the mixture over. Continue the lifting and folding motion until the eggs are broken up and well distributed. Add the green onions (and bean sprouts if you prefer them mixed in) and toss the entire mixture quickly and gently, still avoiding breaking the noodles. Cook for about 2 minutes or until onions are tender.
If you left out the bean sprouts, spread them now on a large platter. Spread pad thai from wok over top. Sprinkle ground chillies (see note) and ground peanuts over the top and squeeze lime over the top. Or serve toppings separately for each diner to add according to taste