08 May 2014

Maggie's Vegan Pad Thai

It's finals week. I'm trying to wrap up what has been, almost certainly, the most difficult semester of my life (just in time to start a new course for May Term, a summer of personal and professional travel, and a whole bunch of work to prepare for this next year). In the mean time, I'm procrastinating by working on a new recipe: vegan Pad Thai.

I'm not sure how Shana started eating Pad Thai. I do know that when I met Shana, she ate taquitos and beer; she's come a long way. Surely somewhere in our past I convinced her that Thai food was a relative of her beloved Chinese food and wore her down enough to try a Thai restaurant. Now that she recognizes the awesomeness that is Thai food, it was only natural that I try to figure out how to make my own version of her favorite dish at home. The problem with a lot of Pad Thai recipes is that the sauce includes fish, making it unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans alike.  

The beauty of Pad Thai is that there are about a many versions of it as there are people who cook it, so I was certain I could come up with something just as delicious but without any fish! Success!

Unfortunately, in order to succeed, I've used some "specialty" ingredients that may be hard to get at your local grocery store, such as tamarind. But if you're serious about making your own Pad Thai, tamarind is a cornerstone in the flavor profile you'll want. Thus, it might be worth searching for some (see Helpful Hints). 

Maggie's Vegan Pad Thai
12 oz. rice noodles, cooked according to package directions (see Helpful Hints)
1 brick extra firm tofu
6 T. light brown sugar
4 1/2 T. tamarind concentrate
1 T. soy sauce (or tamari to make this gluten free)
1 T. light-tasting oil
1 1/2 tsp. sriracha 
8-10 large stakes bok choy, chopped, stems and leaves divided
1 bunch green onions, chopped
roasted/salted peanuts

1. Drain and lightly press the tofu, then brown in a wok or on an electric skillet (my choice!).
2. Boil some water and cook the noodles until al dente, stirring regularly. Rice noodles cook quickly, so you've got 3-7 minutes until they are done. Drain and rinse with cold water, then keep them submerged in cold water until you are ready to use them. 
3. Combine the fishless sauce, brown sugar, tamarind, soy sauce, oil, and sriracha in a small pot on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and keep warm. 
4. Saute the stems of the bok choy in a wok over high heat until mostly soft. Add the tofu, green onions, and bok choy leaves, cooking until leaves and onions are soft. 
5. Drain the noodles again and add to wok, saute a couple of minutes. 
6. Add the sauce to the wok and continue to stir until sauce is incorporated and noodles are hot. 
7. Sprinkle with peanuts before eating. 

Helpful Hints
  • You may be able to find tamarind concentrate at a local Asian foods market if you have one near by. For those within easy driving distance to Cincinnati, I got some at Jungle Jim's. If all else fails, you can buy it online, including through Amazon.
  • The rice noodles I buy are fairly large/thick. On the envelope, there are multiple directions on how to cook them. The first time I made this I used the "soaking" technique. It was fine, but took significantly longer and was kind of a pain. This time, I made them according to the "pasta" directions on the package and it was so much easier. I'd definitely recommend this route. 
  • If you want to kick up the spice a notch, you can add more sriracha or some red pepper flakes. As written, this is a very mild recipe. 
  • If you want to add more veggies, do it! If you do, I'd remove a couple of stalks of the bok choy. 
  • The boiling is an important part of the making the sauce. My guess is that the boiling allows the sugar to really dissolve, but the sauce isn't quite the same if you don't boil it before you turn down the heat. It doesn't need to boil for long. 
  • We used roasted/salted peanuts on our Pad Thai, but you can use raw and/or unsalted peanuts. I find that I really like the flavor of the dish with the peanuts, so I end up putting on more as I eat, just to make sure that every bite has a peanut in it. 
The post "Maggie's Vegan Pad Thai" first appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.

1 comment:

  1. [ Smiles ] I am all for anything vegan!

    Vegan Pad Thai is a great choice!