Pad Thai is one of my family’s absolute favorite Friday night takeout dinners. The rich sauce and delicious blend of sweet and salty flavors are always a winner, and it’s one of the few dishes we’ve found that almost always offer a tofu protein alternative to the standard chicken or shrimp.
Our household recently made the decision to cut down on takeouts and try our hands at cooking delicious, nutritional, take-out-quality meals in our own kitchen.
Naturally, pad Thai was one of the first dishes that came to mind… And WOW, is it easy!
To further improve this dish’s suitability for our vegetarian household, we didn’t just use tofu as the base for our tasty pad Thai dish; we also subbed out the fish sauce to create a genuinely vegetarian dish that still tastes amazing. You can make a vegan fish sauce from home. However, after much discussion, we found that simply using salt was sufficient for balancing the flavors in this delicious homemade vegetarian pad Thai.
This recipe can also really easily be made vegan… Simply skip the egg when you make this recipe for a delicious vegan treat the whole family will love.
1) Squeeze as much water out of your extra firm tofu as possible, cut into cubes, then place in your tofu press to remove any excess liquid (leave for approximately 15 mins).
2) Place rice noodles in a large container (preferably with a lid) and cover with cool water. Soak for at least 2 hours. (this doesn’t need to be in the refrigerator).
3) Make the sauce in a shallow bowl by whisking 2 tsp of salt with the rice vinegar, tamarind, and sugar until it forms a smooth sauce.
4) Taste the sauce and adjust the flavors as required, adding a little paprika or cayenne powder for color.
5) Set the sauce aside and bring a large pot of water to boil.
6) Divide your ingredients into two batches: you’ll be cooking them separately to ensure you have enough space to properly cook all the ingredients.
7) Heat a wok (a skillet will suffice, but a wok is much better) over high heat and add 2 tbsp oil.
8) When the oil starts shimmering, add the first batch of tofu, frequently tossing until it’s lightly golden (about 2-3 minutes).
9) Remove the tofu from the wok (or push to the edges). Add another 2-3 tbsp oil to the pan before cracking the eggs directly into the middle.
10) Use the point of a wooden spoon to lightly loosen the egg yolks as you shake and flip the eggs around the pan. Break it up a bit but do not scramble.
11) Push the eggs to the edge of the pan and return the tofu to the center.
12) Take approximately half the noodles out of the water they’re soaking in and transfer to a fine-mesh sieve.
13) Hold the sieve over the pot of boiling water and gently dip the noodles into the water to soften them without cooking.
14) Once the noodles have softened but still have some give, shake out the excess hot water and transfer the noodles to the pan with the tofu and egg.
15) Toss the noodles, tofu, and egg together.
16) When the noodles look shiny, add approximately ¼ cup of your pre-prepared sauce to the pan, stirring quickly to integrate.
17) When all of the sauce has been absorbed by the noodles (you can add more if you need), taste, then add the peanuts and beansprouts.
18) Toss all ingredients together and cook for 2-3 minutes until everything is heated through.
19) Once the noodles have softened and turned slightly translucent, take the pan off the heat and serve immediately with your choice of garnishes.
20) Repeat the process for the second batch immediately.
This tofu pad Thai recipe is incredibly quick and easy and 100% suitable for vegetarians (or vegans, if you remove the egg) as we’ve taken out the traditional fish sauce and instead used salt to balance the flavors.
In fact, it’s so easy to make that we won’t be going back to our favorite Thai restaurant as, by the time we’ve ordered and collected the dish, we could have already made it ourselves and included the exact ingredients we wanted!