I have always loved veggies and legumes and after I have had a few meat-heavy meals, it feels good to make something that is vegetarian or vegan. This recipe would be vegan if you were to leave out the fish sauce.
Whenever I am making something for the first time, I try to look at several versions of the recipe by different authors and then I take aspects that I like from several of them. The original recipe that caught my eye appeared at Food 52, a website that I go to several times a day. But like Frances, I also enjoy reading Mark Bittman, so some of this recipe comes from him, with the rest from me. I did read a few other recipes for Pad Thai but these were the two that made me want to try it on my own. See what you think.
PS: Leftovers made for a GREAT lunch!
Almost Vegan Pad Thai adapted from Gena Hamshaw and Mark Bittman
Yield: 4 servings
8 ounces pad thai rice noodles
For the sauce
6 Tablespoons unsweetened peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1 Tablespoons tamarind paste (You will use this up in Indian food so don’t worry about what you will do with the rest)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1.5 Tablespoons sriracha or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup tap water
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
For the stir-fry
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 14-16 ounce block of extra firm tofu that has been pressed for at least 30 minutes (see note below)
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
2 medium carrots, cut into thin sticks
4-6 scallions, halved lengthwise and cut into one-inch pieces
1 small head Napa cabbage, shredded (about 4-5 cups) OR equal amount of snow pea pods
8 ounce package mung bean sprouts
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts, chopped
- In order for the tofu to have some “bite” I like to press it under bricks (books or heavy cans will work too) for at least 30 minutes and as much as an hour. This gets all of the excess liquid out and compacts the tofu. I often do this and then marinate and bake the tofu, but that is for another day. You can even do this a day or two ahead and refrigerate it until ready to use.
- Prepare the sauce by whisking all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
- Prepare the rice noodles according to the package. If made ahead, drain them and stir in a healthy teaspoon of toasted sesame oil to keep them from sticking too much. Do not over cook these or they will be like eating mush.
- In a large pan or wok, heat the peanut oil and stir in the garlic and ginger. After about 1 minute, add the carrots and scallions. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Now add the Napa cabbage or snow pea pods and the tofu and about 1 cup of the sauce.
- Stir-fry for 2 minutes and then add the rice noodles. Add more sauce until you have it the way you like it. Some people – like my husband – like LOTS of sauce. After about 2 minutes, add the mung bean sprouts. Stir-fry, moving everything constantly and gently so as not to break up the tofu or noodles, until warmed through.
- When warmed through, garnish with the peanuts and cilantro.