Taste the world: Pad Thai with Tofu & Mushrooms | Vegan Recipe

There’s one thing in Thailand that travellers notice very soon: there’s food everywhere. In Thailand walkways aren’t meant to be walked upon but rather to cook and sell food – street food. So if you want to walk, you have to step over into the street. Anyway, the abundance of food is also the reason why most Thais don’t cook at home. Even in residential neighborhoods miles from anywhere, there’s always someone who happens to be a good cook and turns it into a business. Eating out also happens to be a lot cheaper most of the time (street food that is). This is why the few Thais who don’t cook for a living can’t even cook. Since street food is very unusual in Germany – especially Thai cuisine – I just make my dearly beloved Pad Thai in my tiny kitchen, which meets street food conditions anyway.

Making Pad Thai at home is fairly easy. The main thing is that all the ingredients are prepared in advance when moving on to the wok because Thai food is prepared over high heat at great speed. Key is to stir continuously (hence the name “stir fry”). You can find all the ingredients at an Asian store, if not at a well-assorted grocery store. You could however substitute the exotic ingredients: in place of garlic chives you could use green onions or even regular chives; for umami (the fifth taste) you could substitute miso for the fermented soy bean paste; instead of tamarind juice, vinegar may provide acidity. If you decide to use Italian tagliatelle instead of rice noodles in the end, the result won’t be authentic Pad Thai anymore but maybe a Japanese-Italien version of it. Could be great, too! Maybe…

Ingredients for the noodles (serves 2)

  • 125 g (about 4 oz) rice noodles
  • 3 tbsp frying oil/ vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 200 g (about 7 oz) firm tofu, diced
  • 100 g (about 1 cup / 3.5 oz) shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced
  • a bunch of garlic chives or green onions or regular chives
  • 100 g (about 1 cup / 3.5 oz) bean sprouts
  • optional: 2 tbsp roasted (unsalted) peanuts, minced
  • optional: 1-2 limes, quartered

Ingredients for the sauce

  • 1 1/2 tbsp fermented soy bean paste or substitute 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 3 tbsp tamarind juice or substitute 2 tbsp (rice wine) vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • optional: 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar or palm sugar
  • optional: 1/2 tsp chili flakes, to taste

Directions

  1. Soak rice noodles in lukewarm water for about 45 minutes or until “al dente” (to avoid endless noodles, break them a few times before cooking). Quickie: cook in 6-8 minutes in boiling water, stirring occasionally. As soon as noodles are “al dente“ drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the sauce by combining all of the sauce ingredients with 2 tbsp of water in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a wok or a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook for a minute or so, stirring frequently. Then add tofu and mushrooms with 1 tbsp tamari and sear until golden, tossing occasionally. Fold in noodles with some more oil (generously). Deglaze with the sauce and keep tossing until all the sauce has been absorbed. If necessary, add a splash of water (if noodles are undercooked). Finally turn off the heat, fold in sprouts and chives and toss to mix. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Garnish with crushed peanuts and a wedge of lemon.

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