This delicious vegan Pad Thai recipe is really quick to make. The rice noodles are mixed with veggies and topped with a tamarind sauce, crunchy peanuts, tofu and lime.
What is Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is a traditional street food dish from Thailand composed of stir fried rice noodles. It’s spicy and sweet and really, really moreish. If you’ve ever been to Thailand you’ll have seen it for sale at street food vendors all over the place. Every chef puts their own twist on the dish and as a consequence Pad Thai recipes vary a lot. A traditional recipe usually contains shrimp, tofu, eggs, tamarind, fish sauce and chillies. It’s often served with crunchy peanuts and lime wedges.
How to cook rice noodles for Pad Thai
Cooking the noodles well can be challenging. It really shouldn’t be but most of us have had disasters with noodles sticking together in a big claggy mess. Conflicting instructions don’t help either. Some recipes call for them to be soaked in hot water first, others in cold. Some say that they should be boiled yet others still say that they shouldn’t be boiled at all and should go straight into the wok from soaking. Felicity Cloake goes into this in more detail in her Guardian column about Pad Thai.
I’ve suggested in the recipe below that you follow the packet instructions. What I usually do is boil the noodles until just soft, then drain them into a sieve or colander and rinse immediately with cold water. I then set them aside before adding them to the wok at the end to reheat and soak up all of the spices and flavours.
How can you make Pad Thai vegan?
Vegan Pad Thai is very easy to make. Leave out the eggs and the shrimp and you’re almost there. The only other ingredient that needs replacing is the fish sauce. Soy sauce is a good substitute. If you like the fishy flavour you can add some seaweed flakes to this recipe. Alternatively you can leave it out. Personally I’m not that keen on the smell of fish and I haven’t eaten it since I was a child so I prefer to leave it out.
How to make vegan Pad Thai
This is quite a quick recipe to make once it gets going so do all your chopping and preparation in advance.
Vegan Pad Thai
For the sauce
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste*
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp maple syrup or agave syrup
- Juice one lime
- 1 tsp seaweed flakes optional
For the Pad Thai
- 200 g flat rice noodles
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 3 spring onions sliced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 inch piece of ginger peeled and finely chopped
- 1 red chilli sliced
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into half moons
- 1 red pepper finely sliced
- 400 g pack firm tofu drained and roughly chopped
- 200 g bean sprouts
- 60 g unsalted peanuts
- 1 lime
- Fresh coriander finely chopped
To make the sauce
- Mix the tamarind paste, soy sauce, syrup, lime juice and seaweed flakes (if using) together.
To make the Pad Thai
- Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, drain and set aside.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a wok. Add the spring onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and fry until soft. Stir often.
- Add the carrots and peppers and continue stir frying until beginning to soften.
- Add the tofu and as it cooks break it down with the back of a wooden spoon or a masher so that it begins to look a bit like scrambled egg.
- Finally add the bean sprouts, sauce and cooked noodles. Stir and fry until all warmed through. Take care not to let it stick.
Serve with peanuts, coriander and lime and salt to taste.
*I use tamarind paste from concentrate. If you’re making your own you may need to use more to get the same flavour.