Vegan Pad Thai

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, pad thai takes the toll road with my husband. And now that I made a vegan version, it definitely scores with my plant-based daughters as well. 

Joy was looking suspiciously at me when she came home to find I had made vegan pad thai, because as we all know, it's the amazing fish sauce that lends all Thai food its 'Thai-ness', so she was super excited and relieved to find out that I actually made a vegan version of the fish sauce too, and the recipe is right here.

Now that I've got an amazing spice paste with my special not-fish sauce, what to do about the fillers? Other than tofu? Which seems to be the universally loved answer to the Asian-dish protein-substitute for the plant-based. You could toss in the mushrooms from which you made the vegan not-fish sauce with, remembering to rinse them first (they took a lot of salt). Then there's young jackfruit, which is widely available at home, out of which Sayur Asam is made, but I've had to resort to canned versions here. Nevertheless, it's taken on quite a following in the vegan community. Love the meaty texture, holds up to stewing and absorbs much of the gravy it is cooked in. It really is a boon for vegan curries.

With all that aside, unless you've got all this stuff laying around in your pantry, it's time to hit the grocery store ... and start cooking!

450 g (1 lb) flat rice noodles

Spice paste:
Essentially only 4 ingredients:
3/4 cup tamarind for the sour
3/4 cup palm or brown sugar for the sweet
3 tbsp red pepper powder or flakes for the spicy and
3/4 cups vegan not-fish sauce for the umami / salty
Surely I won't be able to let it go without my go-to guys: onion and garlic, so I add
1/4 cup minced shallots or red onions
4 cloves minced garlic

Cooked tofu, shiitake mushrooms, young jackfruit cubes, about 3/4 cup per person.
Bean sprouts for some crunch, handful per person
Chinese chives, washed and cut into 5cm lengths

Chinese chives, 7-8 cm cuts for garnish
Ground peanuts, to sprinkle on top
Red chili flakes
Lime wedges or slivers

Soak the noodles:
Soak 450 g or 1 lb of fettucini sized rice noodles in warm water for about 4-6 hours, I usually cover the bowl with a plate so it steams a bit and stays kinda warm. This would feed 3-4 people as a main course. The noodles should be al dente, not mushy and 'done'. 

Make the spice paste:
1. Sweat the onions and garlic in some oil.
2. Then add the fab 4, and adjust to taste.
3. Simmer on the stove top with low heat for up to an hour. 
The paste should be thick and the flavours should be strong as the noodles will dilute the taste quite a bit.

Cook the fillers:
1. Slice the tofu/ mushroom or jackfruit.
2. Sauté them in a garlic and onion mix, then cook them with a bit more spice paste. Then set aside.
3. Bean sprouts should be washed and trimmed (of the dark tails) and kept aside.

Mise en place:
Pad thai cooks quickly and needs a constant hand on the stove, so make sure to keep all ingredients within arm's length, keep plates ready as portions come out rather quickly (to the delight of the bystanders who've been kept waiting and salivating!)

1. Wok, or saute pan on stove top, canola oil on the side
and all this around it within easy reach:
2. Bowl with spice paste
3. Bowl of noodles, drained
4. Bowl of cooked tofu / mushrooms or jackfruit
5. Bowl with bean sprouts and chives

7, 8, 9 & 10. All 4 accompaniments in small bowls in the plating area

Now we are ready to start:
1. Warm the wok or pan, add a drizzle of oil
2. When hot, add a ladle of the sauce, then follow with a handful of noodles. Swirl to coat for about a minute then push aside to the side of the pan
3. Now add your tofu and a bit more sauce to coat that, keep everything moving so as not to overcook the noodles. About 30 seconds here.
4. Then add the bean sprouts and chives, give a final good stirring, 30 seconds and done! We don't want the bean sprouts cooked, just mixed in.
5. With tongs, heap on a plate
6. Squeeze a bit of lime on top 
7. Sprinkle with peanuts and/or chili flakes
8. Place chives on the side with a sliver or wedge of lime.


You Might Also Like