We are in love with Pad Thai. Part of what we love about it is with the right ingredients on hand it is simple and easy to prepare. But the main reason we love it is the texture of the sticky noodles covered in ground peanuts and the balance of sweet/sour/hot. We use tofu (home-made whenever possible) in our Pad Thai which gives it the protein and texture of the egg or meat found in other recipes. We also substitute carrot for bean sprout which adds a nice color and vegetable sweetness.
It took some research to find the recipe we now use. We started buying the sauce found at the store which was way to sweet and expensive. Recipes we found around the web varied wildly. Some called for tomato and no tamarind. Some recipes called for both. Some just suggested buying the pre-made sauce an Asian market (which we consider cheating). We finally decided on one that didn't call for a million cups of sugar or a can of tomato soup and made it over and over until it we found the right balance of sour, sweet and hot.
For a special treat marinate tofu beforehand in sesame-chili sauce.
You will need:
16 oz. Tofu cubed or sliced (firm or extra firm - your choice!)
1-2 Large Carrots thinly sliced
Sesame Chili Oil
1-2 Tablespoons Canola or Olive Oil
For the Sauce:
4-5 Tablespoons Tamarind Concentrate
1/2 Cup Evaporated Cane Juice or other minimally refined sugar such as Sucanant
2 Tablespoons plus 2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablsespoons Siracha Hot Chili Sauce
10 Tablespoons Water
14 oz. Package of Rice Stick Noodles (Bahn Pho)
2 Litres Boiling Water
1/2 cup fresh ground peanuts
In a small bowl stir together all ingredients for sauce. Stir enough to dissolve sugar. Then add additional Tamarind Concentrate or Siracha to taste.
Bring water to boiling in large pot.
Cut your tofu into 1/2" cubes or 1/4" slices - however you like it. Heat just a dash of the chili-sesame oil and your olive or canola oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add tofu and brown on both sides if using slices or all sides if using cubes. This should take approximately 5 minutes. Remove tofu and allow to drain on paper towel.
Now add the noodles to the boiling water. Cook for approximately five to seven minutes or until noodle is al-dente. Drain. They can be softened further when added to pan with other ingredients if need be.
While noodles cook put carrots in same heated pan used to prepare tofu. Add approximately 1-2 tablespoons water if needed to prevent sticking. Cook for about 2 minutes being careful to not allow the carrots to overcook. Turn off heat if needed to wait for noodles.
When carrots are done add noodles from strainer and re-heat pan. Pour sauce over all this and stir to coat everything. Add tofu. Cook long enough for all ingredients to get nice and toasty. If your noodles need it add water one tablespoon at a time until they have a bite to please your palate. If you need to do this consider adding tofu after this step so the nice crispy texture will not be lost.
Put in bowls, top with peanuts and enjoy!
Serves four. Recipe lends itself well to halving.