This is one of my favorite Vegetarian dishes. It hits all the taste sensations; sweet, savory, sour and nutty.
One of the things I love best when ordering Thai food is Pad Thai. One of the things I like least when ordering Thai food is Pad Thai...when it is not up to par. I’ve been disappointed more than once. So I’ve been making my own.
Making Pad Thai is much easier than you think. You can tweak ingredients to your own liking and add chicken and/or shrimp to make it non vegetarian or omit the egg to make it vegan. Experimenting with flavors is best. For me personally, I love an excellent homemade vegetarian Pad Thai using rice noodles. Depending on my mood I might switch up the veggies or make more or less of the sauce. So this is kind of a non-recipe recipe.
Before we get started a few basics you should know:
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST PAD THAI
- Prep your ingredients. Have all your ingredients prepped and ready before you begin. Cooking Pad Thai is a very fast process and by having your ingredients prepped and within hands reach, this will ensure that everything goes smoothly.
- Continuously stir. I use a huge frying pan (you can also use a wok). You will need to continuously stir veggies throughout the cooking process to ensure even distribution of heat and even cooking.
- Do not overcook the noodles. I always pre-cook noodles in a separate pot and add them last (they may appear a bit lumped together if you don’t use them right away, however they do separate once you add them to the pan). Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain. Cook veggies until the sauce dries. The noodles should still be firm and not mushy when you add them to the pan. Fully-cooked noodles will change color from transparent to white. If you are new to stir-frying noodles, I would recommend turning down the heat while cooking, as things move fast.
- Serve hot. Pad Thai is best served immediately. Once the noodles turn cold, they will start to lose their texture and flavor.
- Toppings are Everything. Serve Pad Thai topped with fresh bean sprouts, green onion (cut on the bias), cilantro, shaved carrot, chopped peanuts and lime wedges.
Ingredients (for two):
1 package Flat Rice Noodles (you can find ones specifically for Pad Thai)
1 Red Bell Pepper cut into strips
1 Onion thinly sliced
2-3 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch chopped fresh Ginger
Extra Firm Tofu cut up into cubes
1 Large Egg, slightly beaten (optional and added to hot pan before noodles)
Handful of Snap Peas
1 Carrot (cut into small chunks)
The above is my go-to but you can also add sliced mushrooms and/or broccoli
Right before serving add the following:
Handful of Peanuts finely chopped
Fresh Bean Sprouts
Chopped Green onion
Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain.
You can use a combination of some or all of the below ingredients for the sauce. My suggestion is to try what I recommend at first and then adjust according to your taste. Omit any that don’t sit well with you. For instance, I don’t always use fish sauce.
These are general guidelines as I don’t have a set recipe.
2 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil, 2 Tbsp. Rice vinegar, 1-2 Tbsp. Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce, 1 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce, 2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce (optional), 2 Tbsp. store bought peanut sauce, 1 Tbsp. Lime Juice, 1 Tbsp. tamarind paste (not difficult to find in the Asian section of almost every grocery store).
TO MAKE *SAUCE:
Pour about 2 Tbsps of toasted sesame oil in a large frypan or wok. When hot. add the garlic, ginger, onion + pepper. Stir until fragrant. Add any other veggies (snap peas, carrot, tofu, mushrooms, etc.) and then add your rice vinegar, soy, fish sauce, chili-garlic sauce, tamarind paste and lime juice. With wooden spoon, stir veggies and coat with sauce. When all veggies are just about done, add the slightly beaten egg, then the noodles to the pan or wok.
TOSS together then:
Add peanut sauce to the pan; to taste. Divide mixture among two plates and top with bean sprouts, green onion, cilantro, shredded carrot and chopped peanuts. Serve with lime wedges. If you like it spicier add a bit more chili sauce.
Let me know how you like it.
*you can buy store-bought pad thai sauce to try if you like, but some of the ingredients are things like ketchup, corn starch and sugar. Some people making homemade sauce add ketchup and a bit of peanut butter to the sauce. I omit ketchup all together (really not necessary) but I like adding some spicy peanut sauce. It’s all up to personal taste.