I love ethnic foods. I love the fact that they have complex flavors, yet are usually surprisingly simple to make. I love that they are quite often very healthy, or very easy to adapt. And I love that when you make them for people, they think you are the most awesome, talented cook they know.
Friends are so gullible.
One of my favorite ethnic dishes to make is this Pad Thai from the amazing Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of my favorite cookbook, Vegan with a Vengeance, and the amazing blog The Post Punk Kitchen. Her recipes are often lengthy and seemingly complex, but when you get right down to it, most of them are not that hard at all. This one seems a bit adventurous for a Tuesday night meal, but in all honesty, it is super easy to throw together.
I have made this recipe for several folks and all have loved it. It’s easy to modify too, which is always a plus. Since I don’t have a way to link to this recipe, I’m going to print it verbatim below. My notes are all in parentheses.
Brooklyn Pad Thai, from Vegan with a Vengeance
1 lb rice noodles (I buy the ones packaged as “Pad Thai” noodles)
For the sauce:
6 T tamari
6 T sugar (I have tried this in varying amounts and now omit it entirely)
2 T tomato paste
2 T Asian hot chile sauce (I use Asian hot chile garlic sauce, the one with the green lid and rooster)
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
3 T tamarind concentrate or lime juice (I have never seen tamarind concentrate, so I use lime juice)
For the Pad Thai:
6 T peanut oil (I use whatever oil is on hand and really haven’t seen a difference)
1 lb firm tofu, diced
1 medium sized red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T finely minced lemongrass (I prefer the jarred stuff over working with fresh)
2 c bean sprouts (our store is often out of these and I have found thinly sliced cabbage to be a good substitute)
8 scallions, sliced into 1.5 inch pieces
2 small dried red chiles, crumbled (you could use some crushed red pepper)
1/2 c chopped roasted peanuts (totally optional, but really fun)
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges for serving
Prepare the rice noodles according to package directions. (Try not to do this too far in advance. They tend to stick together.)
Mix together ingredients for sauce.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet or wok over moderate-high heat. Pour 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil into the pan and heat, then quickly add the tofu. Stir fry for 4 to 5 minutes, until the tofu is crisp on the outside. Remove from pan and set aside.
Pour 2 tablespoons more of the peanut oil into the pan. Add half of the red onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add half the garlic and half of the lemongrass, and stir-fry for 30 more seconds. Add half of the sauce and, when it starts to bubble (should bubble within a few seconds), add half the noodles. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, then add half the tofu, bean sprouts, scallions, chiles and peanuts. Stir for 30 more seconds. Transfer to two serving plates and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges. Repeat with remaining ingredients.*
1. Have everything chopped before you start cooking or you will be screwed.
2. I am too lazy to do this in two batches. I do it all at once and it works just fine. It makes 4-6 services, depending on how hungry you are.
2. Leftovers are fabulous. Fabulous.