One of my favorite meals in the whole wide world is Pad Thai. I love trying different recipes to see if any of them come close to the Pad Thai I had while traveling across Thailand. This one happens to be unique and different, but in a good way. I really enjoyed Terry’s recipe minus the avocado and less garlic. Don’t be intimidated by all the different components!
Pad Thai has many components but it really is easy to whip up. It’s street food in Thailand, which means it’s made in 5 minutes or less while you wait on the sidewalk. The tofu is really optional here but I recommend making it. You could even make it the day before and use the leftovers as a salad topping. I added carrot to mine for added nutrition and skipped the scallions. Arugula was my green of choice for this dish and added a nice zing that balanced the sweetness of the sauce well. Make it as spicy as you like or top it with Sriracha!
Pad Thai with Avocado and Spicy Greens (Gluten Free, if made with gluten-free soy sauce)
Makes 2 to 3 servings
From the book Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2012. www.dacapopresscookbooks.com
How you prepare Pad Thai, that insanely popular Thai noodle takeout classic, is just as important as what’s in it. Pad Thai is stir-fry and those rules still apply; a great big pan (a wok can’t be beat), high heat, cook fast, veggies cut the same size, and never crowd the pan. For best results divide the ingredients among servings and cook each serving one batch at a time. Ninety percent of the work for stir-fries is preparing everything before cooking, making Pad Thai an ideal dish for chopping all the elements on the weekend for fast dinners through the work week.
You’ll need additional counter space, preferably near your stove, for the chopped vegetables, bowl of noodles, the sauce, and serving dish.
Noodles and Vegetables
8 ounces Thai rice stick noodles
1 recipe Savory Baked Tofu (page 50) or 8 ounces purchased fried or baked tofu, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cups torn arugula, watercress, radish greens, or finely shredded kale
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
4 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts separated and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
6 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
Pad Thai Sauce
1/3 cup light brown sugar or grated palm sugar (see page 18; for a less sweet sauce, use 3 tablespoons or less)
1/4 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce or Thai thin soy sauce (see page 19)
3 tablespoons all-natural ketchup
1 teaspoon light-colored miso
1 tablespoon tamarind paste (see page 14) or 2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 finely minced red chile pepper or 2 teaspoons hot chili sauce, or to taste
3 cups mung bean sprouts
1 ripe avocado, diced into 1/2-inch cubes and tossed with 2 teaspoons of lime juice
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, loosely packed
2/3 cup coarsely ground roasted, unsalted peanuts
Lime wedges for squeezing
1. In a large bowl cover noodles with 4 inches of hot water and soak for 20 minutes. Arrange in separate piles on plates or bowls near your cooking area the tofu, greens, garlic, shallots, white part of scallions, and green parts of scallions. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup whisk together all of the sauce ingredients and keep that nearby the stove, too.
2. Rinse the bean sprouts in cold water and drain. Arrange the avocado, cilantro leaves, and ground peanuts on a separate serving dish for garnishing the finished Pad Thai.
3. Going forward, you’ll be cooking one serving of Pad Thai at a time. It will take only minutes to do so, and your noodles will come out much better than if you just cooked the whole thing in one big batch. Make all the ingredients ready to go and near the preheated wok. Drain the Pad Thai noodles and keep them handy in a bowl near, you guessed it, the wok. Pour the oil into a small cup and keep a teaspoon in the oil; you’ll add extra oil in stages during the stir-fry as needed.
4. Heat a wok or deep, 12-inch stainless-steel skillet over high heat until nearly smoking then add 2 teaspoons of oil. Add a quarter of the greens and green scallion tops. Use long-handled metal tongs and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the greens are wilted, then transfer to a plate. Add 3 teaspoons of oil to the wok and toss in a quarter of the garlic, sliced white scallion, and shallots and stir-fry for 2 1/2 minutes or until shallots are softened. Add a quarter of the tofu, stir-fry for 2 minutes or until edges start to brown. Now add 2 teaspoons of oil to the wok and a quarter of the noodles, stir a few times, and add the cooked greens. Use tongs to toss the greens with the noodles and tofu, then pour in a quarter of the Pad Thai sauce. Continue to toss and stir-fry the noodles for 3 to 5 minutes; when crusty bits of noodles begin to form on the edges of the pan, the Pad Thai is ready. If some of the noodles stick to the surface of the wok, scrape them off with your tongs and keep stirring. Those crusty noodle bits add chewy texture to the dish, but if they stick too much drizzle in another teaspoon of oil.
5. Mound hot Pad Thai onto one serving dish and top with sprouts, cilantro, ground peanuts, and diced avocado as desired. Squeeze a big lime wedge over everything and eat immediately!
Store the chopped veggies and tofu in separate containers or bags, along with a tightly closed container of the sauce, chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Pulse the peanuts in a food processor to a coarse consistency (but don’t make peanut butter!), and store tightly sealed in a small plastic container.