Vegetarian Pad Thai

Pad Thai is probably the most well-known Thai dish in the West. However, in Thailand it’s just another ‘street food’ dish. There are also specialty restaurants which serve it (think not known for ambiance, but known for good tasty pad thai). It’s not a dish which normally people would cook at home for dinner. It’s more of a street-food snack, quick meal, or on-the-go food. This is a vegetarian version, with no fish sauce or shrimp. If you would like a non-veggie version, switch the soy sauce for fish sauce and add 1 table of [glossary]dried small shrimp[/glossary] when you add the chives.

Ingredients

Sauce

Directions

  1. Soak the rice noodles in room temperature water for 30-45 minutes before you cook. Do not soak in hot water or your noodles will get sticky. You want them to be soft enough to bend, but still firm. When finished soaking, drain, rinse, and set aside.
  2. Prepare the tamarind paste by squishing 1/8 cup tamarind pulp with 1/8 cup water in a small bowl with your fingers. Take out all the tamarind veins and seeds, and squish the fruit until the water turns into a thickish paste. Strain the pulp with a strainer and set aside.
  3. Prepare the sauce by adding 1 tablespoon of that tamarind paste you just made with the soy sauce & palm sugar in a small bowl. If your palm sugar is rock hard and doesn’t dissolve, you can cut into small bits and microwave the mixture for 10 seconds or so. That should soften the sugar enough to dissolve.
  4. Fry the tofu in hot oil until medium brown on each side. Remove from oil and set aside.
  5. Add more oil to the pan, if necessary. Wait until the oil is hot, and ‘dancing’ around (look at the surface — is the oil moving?) Add the pickled radish and fry for a few seconds to get the flavor out.
  6. Add your noodles and stir. You may want to add about 1/8-1/4 cup water too, depending on how hot your wok is. When the noodles soften a bit, add the sauce and the 1/8 teaspoon of the chili powder (leave the rest for garnish). Mix well — but be careful not to make a noodle mush. Try to keep the noodles separated as much as possible, covering the entire bottom of the pan. Spread them out.
  7. Cook until the noodles are soft — it may take a minute or two. Taste to be sure they are done. If they get too dry, you may need to add a bit more water.
  8. When the noodles are done, push them to the side to create room for the egg. Crack the egg into the space and scramble it with your spatula and cover the bottom of the pan. Throw the noodles on top of the egg.
  9. Add the chives, 1/2 of the peanuts and 1/2 bean sprouts. Mix well, and remove to a plate. You may get egg bits stuck to the pan. Scrape them off and eat them. I call these ‘wok crispies’. You actually want to try to get them.
  10. Garnish with the rest of the sprouts on top, a slice of lime, and a pile each of the white sugar, the rest of the peanuts and the rest of the chili powder. You can also garnish with a few uncut garlic chives and 1/4 small banana flower too.

Note:

This recipe is for one large portion of Pad Thai. If you're making more than one portion, cook them one at a time in the pan, instead of mixing all at once. If you cook too much at a time, you'll get tasteless noodle mush. Also, this dish has a very short cooking time. Make sure to measure and line up all your ingredients within arm's reach before starting to cook.

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Fried Tofu

Fry the tofu and then set aside

Fry the Noodles

Fry the noodles with the pickled radish

Add the Tofu and Sauce

Add the tofu & sauce, and mix well

Add the Egg

Crack the egg and spread it out

Add the Dry Ingredients

Add the peanuts & chili powder

Add the Chives

Add the garlic chives

Add the Bean Sprouts

Add the bean sprouts and mix well

Serve

Eat right away while still warm. Yum!

Flavor

You can flavor to your liking

9 thoughts on “Vegetarian Pad Thai

  1. I tried making these noodles exactly like this, but my problem is that the noodles roll up into a sticky messy bundle 2 mins after they’ve left the wok, instead of being nice and separate. I don’t want to use a big load of oil. Is there any way to avoid this problem? Since your bio page says you live with a Thai family, I thought you might get some pointers from them.

  2. Hi Hemant,
    Here are a few ideas:

    1) Are you starting with dry rice noodles, then soaking them? Or did you start with fresh noodles?

    2) Did you soak them in cold water or hot?

    3) How long did you soak them?

    4) How much oil did you use?

    5) Did you add water when you cooked them? If so, when?

    6) Did you cook each portion separately?

    Let me know, and hopefully we can figure out what went wrong!

  3. Hermant,
    I had the same problem when I made my first batch. I solved it by cooking the noodles in about 1/2 cup water right after I add them to the wok. I didn’t use much oil at all. Just be sure to keep the noodles moving around after the water evaporates.

  4. just got back from thailand , ate pad thai at many street stalls with many variations . just remember to cook it fast on a high heat & have all of your ingredients prepared first [including cooked noodles]. we usually ate this around midnight , after a few Beer Chang .

    1. hi grant! i’m glad you enjoyed pad thai on the street – it’s the best that way! one thing to clarify – the noodles in thailand are not pre-cooked. they are fresh and have never been dried. the noodles you get at the grocery are dried and need to be pre-soaked in cold water first. if you cook the noodles (or even soak them in hot water) they will get mushy and stick together in a big clump when you fry. 

  5. so I tried making this twice and both times I had a really tough time with the noodles. did exactly as you said and let the noodles soak in room temperature water for 45 minutes might have actually been even more than that. The noodles I bought were just run of the mill medium rice noodles you find at Asian super markets. followed the instructions exactly, radish in the hot wok with oil added the noodles and 1/8 cup of water and did everything else the rest of the recipe said. I added more water when I found the middles still too stiff. the flavor was pretty good although i’m not sure about the radish. (I found the flavor way too salty.) My biggest problem was the texture of the noodles. They were mushy and kind of gelatinous on the outside and too stiff in the middle.
    I actually ended up eating the tofu and sprouts and peanuts and through out the noodles. I tried a second batch,(we were two for supper so I prepared two batches) this time throwing the noodles I had pre soaked into hot water for a minute or two and rinsing them in cold water before throwing it in the wok. This time they were no longer stiff in the middle but still tasted mushy and had the same weird gelatinous texture, this time the whole batch ended up in the garbage. Good thing I had made fresh spring rolls too otherwise we would have been ordering pizza. We have tried several times to make pad thai, trying different methods and recipes and still can’t get it right. I just can’t get the noodles to have the right texture. Any suggestions? Love your site by the way and looking forward to trying other recipes!

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