When I am off adventuring somewhere new I, more often than not, find inspiration in cooking. I love to try local foods, made my local people, using local traditions and sharing a good story behind the meal (the local vegetarian food truck in St. Lucia was one of the best, with a friendly local behind the counter).
Although I have still not ventured far enough East to hit some of my most desired travel destinations (China, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan..you get the point) they are at the top of my list ENTIRELY because of their cuisine.
If you are a believer in reincarnation, maybe you’d believe that I was previously of a different cultural and ethnic decent because of my deep and guttural love of these foods . I simply cannot get enough.
If deciding which restaurants to eat at while traveling was entirely up to me and my opinion, it would ALWAYS be foods of the above mentioned decent.
This is why I have spent so much time and energy on trying to master the recipes and cooking techniques of my favorite ethnic foods. It is easier said then done, in most cases, because I don’t have any proper training, nor the appropriate cooking tools that most ethnic chefs have, but my efforts have paid off even if just for this one recipe: Pad Thai, one of my all time faves.
Pad Thai is not usually vegan. It generally comes with egg, some form of meat or seafood, and the pad thai sauce usually has fish sauce in it, which contains anchovies. In order to veganize this favorite dish of mine, I have simply omitted the non-vegan ingredients and added in a few “extras” like Tofu and coco aminos. It will never be as delicious as the real deal Pad Thai, but its close enough and satisfies the Thai food cravings from home.
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Pad Thai (Vegan)
1 cup peanut oil
8 oz. extra firm tofu
2/3 cup PAD THAI SAUCE
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 carrot, julienned
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup corn starch
1 Tbsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
8 oz. rice noodles
1.5 oz. bean sprouts
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup scallions, chopped
1/3 cup peanuts, chopped
4 lime wedges
- In a medium sauce pan, add the cup of peanut oil over medium heat.
- Drain the tofu, wrap in a kitchen towel and place a heavy cast iron pan on top to remove moisture, leave for 10 minutes.
- While waiting for the tofu to dry, prepare the Pad Thai sauce, peel and julienne the carrot, slice the red pepper and chop the garlic. Set aside.
- Remove tofu from towel and chop into 1 inch cubes. Place cubes in a large ziplock bag with the corn starch, granulated garlic, salt and cayenne pepper. Toss thoroughly to coat all sides of the tofu with cornstarch mixture.
- Deep fry the tofu cubes in the peanut oil for 4-8 minutes, flipping occasionally to get an even color of golden brown on all sides..
- Transfer fried tofu to a drying rack and allow to cool.
- In a large pasta pot, bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil.
- While waiting for the water to boil, add toasted sesame oil to a large saute pan over medium-high heat and saute the carrots and red peppers for 3-6 minutes or until slightly softened but not cooked all the way through. Toss in the chopped garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Drop the rice noodles into the boiling water and cook according to directions on package. (Usually, 8-10 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water.
- While waiting for the rice noodles to cook, prepare the accoutrements (toppings). Roughly chop the bean sprouts, chop the cilantro, scallions and peanuts. Slice the lime into 6 wedges.
- Bring the saute pan containing the carrot and red pepper back up to medium-high heat and add in 1/2 of the Pad Thai sauce recipe, the cooked rice noodles and the fried tofu, stir to combine. The sauce will thicken rapidly, so stir constantly.
- Once the sauce has thickened and coated all the noodles and tofu, remove from heat.
- Serve in large bowls topped with bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions, peanuts and a lime wedge.