03 June 2008

recipe: pad thai with tofu

Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit this.. but until a couple of days ago, I had never. Made. Pad Thai. Weird right?! I mean, I've eaten it countless times, and I enjoy it, and I generally like to try to make things that I like that much, but somehow I always felt like it was always going to better when I go out to eat it. Even though some places really do it up with too much oil in the sauce, I generally enjoy pad Thai every time I eat it and never mustered up enough motivation to make it at home.

However, I had a client request it for dinner and before experimenting with it on their dime, I decided to test drive it at home. I checked out a few recipes online, and combined the elements that I liked into what you see below you.

The amount of steps may seem a little intimidating, but actually, it's very quick to make. Only took me about 30 to 35 minutes, and it's enough to feed 5 people.

Recipe: Pad Thai
Makes 5-6 Servings

1 lb. tofu, drained
2 tablespoons shoyu
1 tablespoon canola oil

8 oz. wide rice noodles
1/4 cup fish sauce*, or 1/3-1/2 cup shoyu (naturally brewed soy sauce) or tamari
3 tablespoons tamarind puree*
1 to 2 tablespoons shoyu (omit if substituting shoyu for the fish sauce)
2 tablespoons sugar or agave
Asian chili paste, sliced jalepenos, or dried red peppers, to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
2 shallots, thinly sliced (optional)
1 or 2 eggs, beaten
1-2 cups thinly sliced vegetables (optional): broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, etc.
1 cup bean sprouts
3 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
lime wedges cut from 2 limes

Could also add in: 3/4 lb 1-inch pieces of chicken, 3/4 lb of medium sized shrimp

1. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes and toss in the shoyu and canola oil. Set aside.

2. Soak the noodles in a large bowl of warm water until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

3. Make the sauce mixture by combining the fish sauce, tamarind puree, shoyu, and agave. Adjust for saltiness, tartness, and sweetness. If you wanted a spicy sauce, add the chili paste or peppers to this mixture.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a wok or large sautee pan over high heat until hot, and fry the tofu for about 6-10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.

5. Heat a teaspoon of oil in the pan and pour in the beaten eggs, quickly stirring to break them up, until cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.

6. In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of the oil, over medium high heat until hot, add sautee shallots for 2 minutes, then add in the garlic. Cook together for a few minutes, being careful not to burn them, until golden.

7. Reduce heat to medium and add the drained noodles and sauce, stirring to combine (may be helpful to use 2 spatulas). Continue to turn the noodles until the sauce is evenly mixed, add in the tofu, half of the bean sprouts, and any additional vegetables. Add a bit more water and/or soy sauce if the pan is beginning to get dry or the noodles aren’t tender enough.

8. Once the noodles are tender, stir in the eggs and sprinkle with a few scallions and cilantro.

9. Transfer to a shallow serving dish and garnish with the remaining bean sprouts, peanuts, scallions, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and additional chili paste.

*Fish sauce can be found at Asian markets or any store with a decently stocked Asian foods section. Yes, it has a strong smell, and it is very salty, but it really adds a distinctive flavor to pad Thai that you will miss if it's not there. However, if you'd rather not use fish sauce or can't get your hands on any, you can substitute shoyu or tamari, though I would do it to taste. As far as the tamarind goes, you can also find this in Asian or Indian markets, though they also often have it at Whole Foods.

Because I was testing this for a client, I didn't add any spicy elements or garlic, as my client is allergic, and it still tasted great. I added thinly sliced red bell peppers and carrots for some vegetable action.

This was so easy to make I've already planned to make it again. And aside from the fresh and protein ingredients go, most of this stuff can sit in your pantry for months be, so you won't have to run out to the store every time you want to make it. And all for the cost of one or two portions of pad Thai take out, without all the gnarly grease!


Anonymous said...

yuuuuuum was so lucky to be your guinea pig, cause yours was the best pad thai i ever had :P ever ever ever!

ryan said...

when i made this i was very "hmm, did i do this right? i know it's not supposed to be greasy but..."

great news. it turned out fannntastic. if even an idjat like me can make this, you should be fine, dear reader.

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