Vegetarian Pad Thai


Pad Thai is perhaps the most beloved of all Thai dishes, and also the easiest to vegetarianise. This is Thailand's ubiquitous street food, which is almost always made to order and so it's easy to opt out of meat, eggs and the omnipresent nam pla (fish sauce).
The term 'Pad Thai' literally translates to 'fried thai', but it really refers to (usually) flat rice noodles fried with thai spices & seasonings.
I remember at the end of a long trek on the hills of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, we came upon this little shack which sold only 3 things: Pad Thai, Pepsi and Singha beer! We were so famished that we devoured that pad thai, nam pla and all, because try as we might, we just could not explain 'no fish sauce' to the dear old lady who cooked it. Aside of that, it was the most delicious Pad Thai I have had till date.
Now almost a decade of pad thai-ing later, I still rely on memories of that one's perfect texture and seasoning, to cook this dish at home. The recipe that follows is exactly how I remember it being made and served back then.
Pad Thai

Ingredients:
1. Flat rice noodles , around 100 gms

These need to be soaked for at least 45 minutes to up to 90 minutes in warm water, after which they would be soft and expanded, somewhat like this:

2. Peanuts (1/2 a cup although,the more, the merrier!)

dry roast in a fry pan till till the skin blisters, let cool then rub between your palms to skin them, or use pre-roasted peanuts

1 cup each

Moong bean sprouts
Garlic Chives
(can be easily substituted with spring onions)

100 gms

Firm tofu, sliced & roasted without oil in a non stick pan, then cubed

Learn about 'Tofu Geometry' and dry roasting tofu here
Pad Thai sauce:
6 Tbsp of light soy sauce
3 to 4 tbsp of tamarind pulp
1 to 2 tbsp of sugar
salt, a pinch, or to taste
Mix and simmer everything together till the sugar gets dissolved. Taste to check if the balance of sweet, sour & salty is to your liking, the above proportions are broadly how I like it, although by now I have stopped measuring exactly. Add more salt, sugar, tamarind accordingly. Keep aside.
Shortcut: Substitute with common gur imli ( jaggery Tamarind) chutney that you use for chaat, its almost the same, minus the soy sauce, really!
What else:
4 tsp chopped garlic & shallots each
Oil

water as needed
salt, if required
lime and chili powder to garnish
Putting it together:
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok, add 1 tsp garlic, followed by 1 tsp of shallots and fry for around a minute. Now add some tofu, then drain and add the a quarter of the soaked noodles. Fry for around another minute on medium flame and add some of the sauce. Keep stirring to ensure the noodles don't stick, should that happen, or if the noodles start looking too dry, add a splash of water. Now add beansprouts and chives and toss well to mix. Be generous with chives and sprouts as they cook down considerably. Check for salt and other seasonings, like all thai food, pad thai is really all about individual preference.Another 30 seconds or so and it should be done.
Tip: It helps to make only 1 to 2 servings at a time when making this, or any noodle dish for that matter. Even if you use a large wok, a big bunch of noodles almost always tends to get lumpy, or overcooked. Moreover, once you have everything ready, each serving takes only a few minutes to cook. For us , the above serves 3 adults and one child and I usually make it in 2 or 3 lots.
This is a great video I referred to the first few times I made pad thai. Do check it out.
The traditional way to garnish pad thai is with some more chives and sprouts, but it is totally up to your liking for them. As for me, I like them a lot, and like them raw, just as I remember them.
Serve some crushed peanuts, coarsely powdered chili & lime for everyone to season further to their taste. In Thailand, they also give a tiny mound of sugar on each plate, which I still haven't developed a taste for, but try that if you like.
Here's an extra spicy plate, the way ol' P likes it!
This plate of Pad Thai goes to AWED Thailand hosted by DK on her blog, Culinary Bazaar

56 comments:

  1. Thanks a loaaaaaddddd for sharing this wonderful recipe.The method with pictures is very clear .today I am so happyto get the recipe of my favorite dish my husband will be gettng surprise very soon Thanks again

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  2. you totally rock - thats the simplest recipe for pad thai that i've seen - and it looks gorgeous! gonna try and find pad thai noodles now. this is a must try. thanks.

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  3. WOwoww lovely i love pad thai n urs is prefect...

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  4. That looks really delicious! I love Thai food, It's one of my favorites, I wish I cooked it more often!

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  5. A perfect post. I absolutely love pad thai and have attempted it few times but the the lack of fish sauce always made me wonder if it was worth bothering about. As for the restaurants, I gave up a long time ago. Thanks for the step by step, I'll be making this.

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  6. Thanks for the detailed post and that bowl of pad thai is just more than perfect and absolutely droolworthy!

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  7. I am not too much into Thai.. becoz of that fish sauce. Ur way looks easy and delicious. Just that picture is making me want to eat that right now.

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  8. Looks delicious, one of my fav too.
    Like your presentation, very well explained.

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  9. Oh my! Just last weekend I was eyeing a readymade Pad Thai packet on the shelves .. and then decided against it and was thinking of resorting to google. Thanks a bunch Rashmi! So what if we don't add fish sauce? We don't like it ... we will make without it. ;-)

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  10. Apart from Indian food,my reach is till Chinese cuisine,never ever tried or ate Thai,but heard a lot of ppl going ga ga over Thai...Must try this to know wht actually Thai food tatses like..and btw can i use paneer instead of Tofu(i haven't yet developed a liking for that)or will that spoil the flavour of final dish?

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  11. This looks awesome! Great pics, so vibrant and so professional looking...what plating.. I can taste it!

    Thanks so much for sharing...I'm definitely giving this a shot this weekend:)))

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  12. wow.. nice entry.. looks fantastic & perfect..

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  13. Looks awesome !! nice pics love the recipe

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  14. Thanks for posting an explanative easy to make recipe. Looks great!

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  15. Darn! Now you are making me crave pad thai!

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  16. She annouced and here u come with a plate flavored of Thai! Yummy!

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  17. looks delicious!
    first time to ur blog and it is very nice!
    do visit my blog when u find time!
    join in the savories event going in my blog!

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  18. Wow this is excellent and Thanks for a lovely recipe.It looks great.

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  19. thanks for sharing the recipe. looks absolutely lovely.

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  20. Alka, paneer should work well..infact I have been wanting to try this with paneer sometime, but I don't get great paneer here, and I am too lazy to make some at home.
    Just lightly pan fry cubed paneer before using, so that it doesn't crumble when fried with the noodles

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  21. hi, this is awesome. Totally new for me, and I love the ingredients. The picture is so tempting. Thanks for the recipe.

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  22. PaAd Thai looks yummy..I had it once in one of the Thai restaurants here.. looks yummy..

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  23. One word - "slurplicious'! (!!!)

    They look so droolworthy. I love Pad thai and that plate looks so scrumptious. Good one for AWED :)

    DK
    http://culinarybazaar.blogspot.com

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  24. lovely recipe... shall try it out :-)

    Happy new year.

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  25. wow it looks great so mouthwatering and first time to your blog you have such great recipes will try and tell you thanks for visiting my blog

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  26. Very informative and excellent post. I will surely try this soon! tamarind and peanuts an soy sauce make such delicious combinations. I like the Raw papaya salad which uses these ingredients too!

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  27. Happy New Year Rashmi to you & your Family! Waiting for many yummies to come next year! :-)

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  28. Pad Thai is my favorite too. I'd give anything to have a plate of that right now.

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  29. Delicious!!! Happy New year to you & yours.

    I didnt know abt AWED - Thailand. I will participate too, thanks to you

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  30. Delicious recipe and the picture looks great too!

    Wish you a very Happy New Year, Rashmi!

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  31. Happy New Year to you and your family dear Rashmi.

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  32. Hi Rashmi!
    Here's wishing you and your family a great New Year 2009! :-)

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  33. Oh I love pad thai and this looks mouth-drooling, yummmmmm!!!!

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  34. wish you a wonderful 2009, dear rashmi.

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  35. I have heard of this dish so much, never tasted it. Must try now!! :))

    Happy new year to you too.

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  36. Thanks a lot for the detailed instructions and the link to the video.. it was so helpful. I tried this and was the best pad thai i've made. I also loved your tip about doing a serving at a time.. that made a big difference as well. :)

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  37. That is insanely beautiful! Looks perfect.

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  38. lovely! i have never tried pad thai in restaurants here though i have been in singapore for almost 8 months now. shame on me!

    will try it at home for sure :)

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  39. What a swell recipe Rashmi. I love the sauces & everything that went in. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

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  40. I love pad thai too. The peanuts add a nice crunch and texture to pad thai.

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  41. this has to be the best recipe of pad thai that i have seen online.. u make it look so simple and i never attempted it thinking of the hazaar ingredients needed for it. have to try it now.

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  42. This is Super! Perhaps the easiest thai recipe i've read.loved it!

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  43. I love pad thai. I like using sesame oil for this. This looks simple and easy and you even have the cool thai font!

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  44. Wow makes me drool. I need to try this soon to taste this... bookmarked..

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  45. Thats such a droolworthy pic- looks spicy and delicious.

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  46. It has come out really well, the picture looks fantastic!

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  47. Lovely recipe,so much Thai style!
    Nice step by step presentation too,easy to understand!

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  48. a wonderful dish! thanks a ton for this one , respecially for such detailed pictures and information! makes me feel more confident to try it.
    The picture looks fantastic!

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  49. This is indeed the authentic Pad Thai I remember from my Thailand trip. Looks great!

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  50. oh this is truly fantastic!!! love step by step tutorial its all really clear to me how to make it. i've tried this before with bok choy and all but it was a glutinous mess. Iamgoing to get it right this time. i love pad thai - minus fish sauce :)

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  51. Congrats on your anniversary yday :) & thanks for your wishes too.

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  52. That is one yummy dish. Where are you BTW and I see someone say it was your anniv, my warm wishes comes your way too

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  53. hi,
    which brand of Japanese noodles do you use . I also stay in Singapore so I will get those noodles only :)

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  54. I love Pad Thai , I will surely try this.

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