I love Pad Thai, but I’m very picky when it comes to it, it can’t be super saucy or sickly sweet, and not too oily either; I prefer Pad Thai on the dryer side, rather than swimming in a sauce – which is why I make it rather than order it.
This recipe is easy to make, but there is some prep work to be done before you can start cooking. I suggest soaking the noodles and tamarind first, while those soak prep the other ingredients, then make your sauce, then head to the stove, because once you start cooking it’s super fast to pull together. This recipe on it’s own will feed two people, but if you’re serving it with some delicious sides, it can easily serve four people.
Tofu Pad Thai
- ½ package rice noodles about 225g, 3 - 5 mm thick
- 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons sriracha or ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- 100 g deep-fried or extra firm tofu diced
- 3 green onions sliced
- 2 cups of bean sprouts
- 3 tablespoons roasted peanuts coarsely chopped
- 1 lime
- Soak the rice noodles in room temperature water until the noodles are flexible, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Soak the tamarind pulp in ½ cup of warm water for 10 minutes. Mash up the tamarind pulp with your fingers to separate the fruit from the rough fibers. Place the mixture in a strainer (sieve), over a bowl, and using a spatula, work the mixture through the strainer pressing through as much fruit as you can. What’s left in the strainer can be discarded. What’s left in the bowl (and the bottom of your straineis your tamarind paste. To it, add the sugar, sriracha and soy sauce, stir until sugar is dissolved.
- In a large wok or frying pan, heat oil over medium heat; cook and stir onions and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes. Add red pepper and tofu, cook and stir for 2 minutes.
- Add noodles and tamarind sauce, cook and constantly stir until noodles are soft. Add green onions, bean sprouts, and peanuts; cook and stir for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Garnish with lime juice and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.
- In the past I would have boiled the rice noodles, then drained and rinsed them under cold water. Which always left me with wet noodles that would dilute the flavour of the final dish. And if I didn’t rinse them I’d be left with a clump of stuck together sticky noodles - again, not ideal. The best way to prepare rice noodles is to soak them in room temperature water until they are flexible, then drain, and then cook them briefly until perfectly done.
- Sometimes you can find tamarind paste, which means you won’t need to soak or strain anything - it’s ready to use. But most times, you’ll find tamarind pulp, usually sold as a flat package, about 1 inch thick of mashed together fruit. Pulp takes a bit of prep work before you can use it. You can find it online, or at a south asian grocery store. It’s what gives Pad Thai it’s sweet sour flavour.