Pad Thai

The first time that I tried Thai food was in my freshman year of college in the dorm cafeteria.  That was the same year that I started eating tofu, wearing crocs, and dyeing my hair pink.  The pink hair didn’t last long, but luckily my taste for tofu and Pad Thai have stuck around. 

The nice part of living in Seattle is that you can find pretty amazing Thai food everywhere you turn.  It’s especially convenient for us vegetarian and vegan folks because you know that you’ll be able find something delicious while still hanging out with your non-vegetarian buddies.

And, if you happen to be in the University District around lunchtime, you have to stop in to Araya’s for their lunch buffet.  A buffet with spring rolls?  Just try and stop me.

The only downfall of a lot of Thai dishes is that they can be a little too greasy.  This is often the case with Pad Thai. The good news here is that Pad Thai isn’t inherently unhealthy; it tends to be the extra oil, fried eggs, and sugar in the sauce that make it that way.  I went on a long search for a tasty and healthy Pad Thai recipe and came up short so I made my own version.

This sauce has a light flavor so the taste of lime juice and fresh sprouts really shine through in this dish.  (If you’re interested in making your own mung bean sprouts, you can check out my tutorial here.)  I also added some grated carrots to lighten up the noodles a bit.  You can definitely play around with the ingredients and flavors as you like, just don’t forget the chopped peanuts on top.  Yum.

And if you happen to be looking for something to do around Seattle this weekend, check out VegFest at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall on March 26th and 27th.  It’s sponsored by Vegetarians of Washington, an awesome nonprofit organization who provides education about eating vegetarian and healthy living.  It costs $8 to attend, but there’s over 500 samples to try, cooking demonstrations, and great information about new products.  You can also sign up to be a member of Vegetarians of Washington and get a free subscription to Vegetarian Times and a bag of goodies.  Hope to see you there!

Pad Thai
Serves 2

Pad Thai Sauce:
Juice from 2 limes (about 4 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate mixed with 3 tablespoons of water

4 ounces of tofu (1/2 of a package), cut into small squares
2 handfuls of rice stick noodles (use about 1/3 of a 12 oz package)
1 tablespoon oil (I used a mix of peanut and hot chili oil, but you can use any cooking oil)
2 shallots, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions
1 carrot, grated

1 cup mung bean sprouts
2 tablespoons of cilantro
1/4 cup chopped peanuts for garnish
1 lime, sliced into 4 wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tofu on a lightly-sprayed baking sheet and bake for about 20 – 30 minutes, until tofu is light golden brown.  Set aside.

Cook rice stick noodles according to package directions.  Usually you will cook them about 6 – 8 minutes until they are soft (but not mushy), then drain.  Set aside.

Mix the ingredients for your sauce together and set aside. 

Add the oil to a medium pan over medium heat.  Add your shallots, garlic, and green onions.  Saute for 2 minutes.  Stir in the noodles and toss for about 1 minute, then add the sauce.  Add the tofu, carrot, and bean sprouts and cook for 5 more minutes.  Split the pad thai between two plates and then top with cilantro and peanuts and add two lime wedges to the side.

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