I call it “ultimate” but you might also call it “the works.” This is not a pad thai shortcut. It’s got an ingredient list longer than my arm and each one plays a part that is essential to the dish.
This recipe is a labor of love, compiled from many traditional and veganized recipes. Traditional pad thai contains egg that is scrambled into the noodle mix and although a lot of vegans use silken tofu as a replacement, I think it’s actually best in this dish to leave it out. I also jam-pack my pad thai with veggies that bring a lot of flavor to the table, like bell peppers and red onions. This adds even more dimension to an already-complex flavor profile. In non-food-nerd speak? It’s super YUM!
This recipe might seem like a lot of trouble, but it’s not the painful kind of trouble. You’ll spend more time getting your ingredients out of your pantry and fridge than you will standing in front of a hot stove. Promise. Doesn’t that sound good right about now? Besides, this recipe makes kind of a ton of food so this dish is great for leftovers or feeding a crowd of friends.
Tofu skins or tofu knots. Made from thin layers of tofu (similar to the tofu sheets I’ve showed you in the past) but tied into cute little knots. They come frozen solid, so they do require a little advance prep before use, but the tofu knots have such a nice, chewy texture that can’t be achieved with regular tofu so if you can get them, I highly recommend it. Check your local Asian market’s freezer case and you might find these, as well as a plethora of vegan-meat-substitute options!
And, in case you’re wondering, yes– it was in factVegan Black Metal Chef who reminded me how much I love pad thai and what a time-consuming effort it can be. But so worth it.
Ultimate Pad Thai
Yield: 3-4 servings
2 cups tofu skin knots
100g flat rice noodles
For the sauce:
1/4 cup peanuts (roasted, unsalted)
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp Sriracha or other chili sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1 handful cilantro, chopped
1 cup water
2 Tbsp peanut butter
For the veggies:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 each green and red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
1 cup mung bean sprouts
- At least 1 hour and up to one day in advance: Soak tofu knots in a mixture of 2 tsp soy sauce or liquid aminos and just enough water to cover them in a small bowl.
- At least 30 minutes in advance: Soak rice noodles in cold water.
- Mix the sauce. Peanuts, brown sugar, tamarind, soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, cilantro, water. Once all other sauce ingredients are combined, add peanut butter and stir well, breaking up the peanut butter as much as possible. Set aside.
- In a nonstick skillet large enough to hold all your ingredients, heat oil over medium heat and fry tofu knots until they pick up some color. Add the remaining vegetables and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
- Drain rice noodles and add to the veggie mixture along with your pad thai sauce. Stir together, cover, and cook until rice noodles are soft.
- Garnish with grape tomatoes, fresh cilantro, chopped green onions, a few peanuts and lime wedges.