Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vegan Pad Thai

I looooove Pad Thai. Every time J and I go to a Thai restaurant, I want to order the same 2 things: any curry, it doesn't matter what it is; and a dish that includes rice noodles, it doesn't matter what that is either. I just love the rice noodles. At some point, I'm going to have to come up with my own recipe for vegan Pad See Ew, but for now I will share this one. This is one recipe that I can truly say I have developed on my own over many many years. It's not difficult at all, but it does contain a long list of ingredients. I don't end up actually making it that often, which makes every time that I do a very special occasion. First gather up all of the ingredients:

1 package extra firm lite tofu (I like Azumaya)
12 oz. package of rice noodles
1 red bell pepper, cut into small slices
1 red onion, quartered and sliced
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 Tbsp. canola oil
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. lime juice
Sriracha hot sauce to taste
1/3 cup chopped basil (thai basil if you can find it)
Bean sprouts, lime wedges, scallion tops, basil and chopped peanuts for garnish

Here we go with my tried and true way of cooking perfect tofu every time without a lot of oil and extra fat. I like my tofu crispy, brown and very chewy. This method brings the tofu as close as possible to the texture of fried tofu but without all the oil! Follow these instructions exactly and I promise you will have perfect tofu every time. First press and dry the tofu. (I explain this method in my Tofu Benedict post from a few weeks ago). Cut it into small cubes and add to a lightly oiled nonstick pan over medium heat. I use a canola oil spray (like Pam) to oil the pan even though it is nonstick. Cook the cubes over medium heat, flipping often. I just grab the pan and shake it a little rather than using a spatula. You don't want to manhandle the cubes so that they fall apart. If you turn the heat up too much or let the tofu sit in once place for too long, it will stick. Cooking the tofu this way will take a while, maybe about 30 minutes for best results. The goal is for each piece to cook on each side for a while, but not long enough to stick. This method takes some patience, but it will work perfectly, I promise!

While you are cooking the tofu, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the rice noodles. Check and stir the noodles often so they don't stick together and drain them as soon as they are al dente. Rinse immediately with cold water and set aside. Meanwhile, whisk together the soy sauce, peanut butter, hot sauce, brown sugar, turmeric, vinegar and lime juice.

Heat 1 Tbsp. canola oil in a large pan or wok and cook the red onions, bell pepper, garlic, ginger and the white part of the scallions until tender. *I want to pause to share a trick I only recently learned and which has changed my life in no small way. I love to use ginger in my cooking, but I hate to chop it. I've just never been that good and chopping the thick, sinewy fibers. My pieces always turn out too large and it's never good to get a big bite full of ginger. I've also tried to grate it on all sorts of graters including the so called "ginger grater" that they sell at the Asian restaurant supply near my house. I don't really know how that thing is supposed to work, but it definitely does not work for me. Then I read somewhere about freezing the ginger. Not only does this help those big ginger roots last much longer, but it makes them infinitely easier to deal with. Just peel the ginger and stick it in the freezer in a ziplock. Then when you need it, just grate it on a microplane or citrus zester. It's super simple and saves tons of time. Seriously, this was an incredibly exciting discovery for me.*

When the vegetables are tender, add the scallion tops, bean sprouts, basil, cooked noodles, cooked tofu and soy sauce mixture. Continue to cook until heated through, stirring constantly. Serve garnished with raw bean sprouts, lime wedges, chopped basil, chopped scallions and chopped peanuts. This Pad Thai tastes just as good as any I've had in restaurants and is infinitely more healthy, not to mention lacks the pork and eggs most Pad Thai dishes include. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Robin!!!! Adam and I just made this pad thai for some friends tonight and it was fantastic! Thanks so much for the post, and for all of the recipes on this blog. I also love the tip for grating ginger. Looking forward to trying more of these recipes soon. Keep em coming!