Pad thai is one of those dishes that you can find practically everywhere around the world, and because of that, there are so many different versions of it. I personally have never tried the ones in Thailand because even though my parents’ hometown is only an hour’s drive away from the Malaysia-Thailand border, I’ve never been to Thailand. I’ve only tasted the pad thai’s in Malaysia and in Sweden and I have to say that they are very very different.
The two times that I had pad thai in Malaysia from two different restaurants, they were both cloyingly sweet, and this is coming from someone who loves sweet & savoury dishes. I then decided I didn’t like pad thai. I tried it again in Sweden and I loved it but doubted the authenticity of it so I did a little bit of research. According to one of my favourite Thai youtube chefs (Pailin), the three main ingredients that make up the pad thai sauce are palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind. Like most other Thai dishes, pad thai is all about balancing sweet, salty and sour. I tried making it and I was blown away by how simple it actually is to make it! I’ve also tried the ready-made bottled pad thai sauce available in Asian stores and they’re not bad at all. In fact I would recommend just buying the ready-made sauce if you don’t already have palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind in your kitchen and don’t feel like adding them to your pantry, although you should have them if you cook a lot of asian food!
I love just using tofu in my pad thai because good fresh shrimps are hard to come by here, but you can use shrimps or chicken if you like in addition to the tofu. Shrimps will add colour to your pad thai and make it look more appetizing! Enjoy!
Tofu Pad Thai
- 1/4 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 piece pressed/extra firm/fried tofu, cut into small pieces
- 1 tbsp preserved sweet turnip, optional
- 1 tbsp dried shrimp, optional
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes, optional
- Rice noodles, enough for 1-2 servings
- 2 eggs
- 3-4 stalks green onions or chinese chives, cut into 2 inch lengths
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 3 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste (see note 1)
- A squirt of sriracha sauce, optional
- Crushed toasted peanuts
- Lime wedges
- Chilli flakes
Start by soaking rice noodles in a large bowl of lukewarm water while preparing the other ingredients until slightly softened and translucent. Drain.
Heat some oil in a large wok (medium high heat) and add tofu, garlic, onion, dried shrimp and preserved turnip. Stir fry until they begin to brown.
Add chilli flakes and continue stir frying for a few seconds.
Crank up the heat to high and toss in noodles together with all the sauces and a little bit of water to help soften the noodles further.
Push the noodles to the side of the wok and crack the eggs into the wok. Flip the noodles onto the egg and let the eggs set before tossing everything together.
Add bean sprouts and chives/green onions and continue tossing a few more times.
Serve hot with lime wedges, crushed peanuts and chilli flakes.
- Adjust the amount depending on the acidity of the tamarind paste/concentrate used.
- Use ready-made bottled pad thai sauce for convenience!
- Like any stir fry dishes, pad thai is best made in small batches (1-2 servings).
- Vegetarian: substitute fish sauce with light soy sauce and omit dried shrimps.
- Vegan: substitute fish sauce with light soy sauce, omit dried shrimps and eggs. Add more tofu for protein.