Pad Thai

At some point in High School (maybe it was Middle School) Thai food became all the rage in my neighborhood. I mean there was pretty much one or two Thai restaurants on each block of our main street. My best friend and I each had our own favorite and we swore that one was better than the other.  I ventured out to try the one by her house, but it just wasn't up to par. If I remember correctly it was really just the level of sauce that made the difference. I prefer when it is soaked into the noodles and not sitting at the bottom. Who knows, maybe I am making that up since it was so long ago, but I do know I tried it once and I never went back. 

Since then I have tried a few different spots closer to my new home, in hopes that I will find it to be similar to my favorite spot, Amarin. No such luck. What does one do when they miss their favorite food? They attempt to re-create it. A number of years ago we started making our own fried spring rolls (who doesn't love fried spring rolls!). That was a trying time, especially since I was making the wraps from scratch and if you know how difficult it is to make a perfect thin crepe, this is 10 times harder and thinner and can cause severe temper tantrums ( I may have thrown a spatula or two). Eventually I found the egg roll wrappers at the store and have since been using those. 

So, right before we started the cleanse, we received our newest Vegetarian Times in the mail. I had mentioned there were an array of recipes I had wanted to try. One of them happened to be Tofu Pad Thai. I have hesitated to make this in the past as the recipes I stumbled across had ingredients I didn't want to include. I tried it last week to see how it went and after butchering it a bit, I decided to give it another go this weekend. It was pretty good, especially after it sat for a second day. Granted, nothing can compare to Amarin, but I will happily make this dish when the craving hits. The dish probably takes a 1/2 hour to make, which includes the cutting and cooking time (if you feel confident multitasking). If you prefer to do without the tofu, just substitute for your cooked gross chicken, steak or shrimp (sweet, aren't I?). 

Final product of the yummy goodness garnished with Green Onions

 Pad Thai courtesy of the April-May issue of Vegetarian Times (with some changes of my own)

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. tamarind paste* (We found ours at our natural food store) *FYI If you can't find tamarind you can substitute by using lime juice (or sometimes white wine or rice vinegar) mixed with an equal quantity of light brown sugar. Tamarind is a type of fruit, so even when making this substitute it will be missing that key flavor only the fruit provides.
  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce 
  • 2 Tbs. palm sugar  or light brown sugar (in my head sugar is sugar so I use whatever I have, usually sugar in the raw)
  • 1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce (or in our case we use chili-ginger since we already buy it as the dipping sauce for spring rolls)
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
  • some black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of water

Combine all of these ingredients in a small bowl. I would mix these together first and set aside before you make the Pad Thai. 

Pad Thai Ingredients

  • 4 oz Rice Noodles (put in as much or as little as you want, I like noodles so I put two handfuls)
  • 2oz Extra Firm Tofu, drained and diced (or you can substitute by cooking your gross chicken, beef or shrimp)
  • 1 tbs soy sauce (optional for tofu)
  • 2 Tbs grapeseed or regular olive oil
  • Broccoli, chopped (I love cooked broccoli so I usually use two good sized crowns)
  • 1 cup of chopped green onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced (roughly 1 Tbs)
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted and salted cashews
  • Lime wedge

You first want to fill a pot with water and get it to a boil. To speed up the process put on the lid. Once it is boiling, turn off and move to a different burner. Add the rice noodles and set your timer for 9 minutes. Once they have softened, drain, rinse with cold water and set to the side. 

On a large pan pour the oil, put the heat on medium (or 4 on a gas burner) for a minute and then add the tofu. I sometimes add a little soy sauce to brown and flavor. Treat the tofu like you would grilled chicken, toss it a few times so as many sides of it brown. It will take roughly 7 minutes. Once done, place on a plate with a paper towel so some of the oil gets soaked up. 

At the same time, on a smaller pan roast the cashews. You can leave them as whole cashews or crush them. Roast for approximately 3 minutes, until they get golden. When done, turn off burner and set aside (leave in pan, no need to dirty another dish).  

Next, put just a bit more oil to the large pan you just used for tofu and add the broccoli. Let this cook for a minute or two on medium, and then add the green onions, garlic and ginger. Cook for three minutes, but make sure you keep tossing because the garlic will burn if you just leave it to sit. After the three minutes are up (or once the broccoli has softened, but before the garlic burns), place the veggies in a bowl. 

On this same large pan fry your eggs. I am not positive the correct way to go about this. For now I just scramble them. But, after I go back to the city to eat it at Amarin again, I will confirm how its done. Once the eggs are done throw the veggies back into the pan, along with the noodles and 1/2 of the sauce you made earlier. Toss until almost all of the liquid is evaporated. Add 1/2 of the sauce that is left and stir until the pan is dry. Lastly, add the rest of the sauce, the bean sprouts, tofu (or meat of choice) and cashews. Toss for another minute. 

You should have about four "real" servings, if you did the two fistfuls of rice noodles, 2 oz of tofu and 2 crowns of broccoli (maybe more if you eat smaller portions). After you have plated, squeeze the juice of a lime wedge and garnish with green onions (if you want to be fancy). Add salt to taste.