Friday, February 5, 2010

Vegan Replica Hack: Pad Thai

One of the major deficiencies of the city where I live is a relative dearth of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. We do have a couple of places, but one of them is somewhat overpriced and I find the food mediocre, and the other one doesn’t have much veggie stuff on the menu at all. For the most part, I prefer to make my own Thai and Vietnamese food at home and go out for those cuisines when I’m visiting other cities.

Pad thai is the quintessential Thai dish that most people are familiar with in North America. Typically it has at least 2 ingredients in it that are not vegetarian, and an additional 1 unsuitable for vegans: meat (often shrimp or chicken), fish sauce, and eggs.

I’ve come across tons of recipes for vegetarian or vegan pad thai, but they’ve usually had a list of ingredients as long as my arm, a number of which are tough to find in this city. And even in those few instances where I was motivated to try to make them, I found the results disappointing.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine who is a long-time vegan brought his version of pad thai for dinner one night, and not only was it incredibly tasty (I stuffed myself at dinner, and ate leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner the next day), the ingredients are simple and it goes together quickly. Said friend and said recipe later went on to inspire the famous maxim “you can break her heart, but you can’t take back your pad thai recipe” – you may have heard all the hip kids in the neighbourhood saying that lately. No? Well I’m sure you will hear it in regular parlance soon enough, it’s catching on around the globe.

Heartbreakingly Simple and Delicious Vegan Pad Thai

  • 6oz package rice noodles (flat, linguini style)
  • 1/3c ketchup
  • 1/2c soy sauce
  • 1/4c lime juice
  • 3T fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3T canola oil
  • 1/2 - 1t red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 375g extra-firm tofu, crumbled
  • 2c carrots, grated
  • 28oz can bean sprouts, drained and rinsed
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 2/3c chopped peanuts
  • Sriracha sauce or other hot sauce
  • Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and reserve.
  • Make the sauce by whisking together the ketchup, soy sauce, and lime juice.
  • In a large pot or saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and saute for 2-3 minutes. Then add the crumbled tofu and fry for an additional 3 minutes. Add the carrots and about half of the sauce mixture, and stir to combine well. Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes, until the carrots are softened.
  • If the reserved noodles are stuck together a bit, rinse them well with hot water. Add the noodles to the pot along with the bean sprouts, green onions, peanuts, and remaining sauce. Toss to mix thoroughly.
  • Serve with Sriracha sauce on the side so that each person can adjust the spiciness to their own taste.

This reheats beautifully in the microwave, and makes a terrific contribution to a potluck, provided none of the other guests are allergic to peanuts! You can have the recipe and I promise to do my best to *not* break your heart. That’s just the kind of gal I am.

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