Monday, February 27, 2012

Pad Thai with Tofu

We've had "Pad Thai Rice Sticks," AKA rice noodles, sitting around ever since making Asian Pesto with Rice Noodles.  Yesterday we put these noodles to good use by making Pad Thai with tofu for dinner.  I love Pad Thai and I always get noodle dishes of some sort at Thai restaurants (I'm not the most adventurous restaurant diner...), so I was pretty excited about this. 
  

Pad Thai -- I probably shouldn't have put it in a bowl to take the picture...
Unfortunately the picture doesn't do it much justice, but SPOILER ALERT: it was tasty! 

Recipe:
Pad Thai with Tofu
  • 8 ounces rice noodles (we used "Pad Thai Rice Sticks")
  • 1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • about 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu, pressed
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped (we used frozen broccoli)
  • 1 cup snow peas (we used frozen snow peas)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
First, prepare the rice noodles according to the package instructions.  Keep them in a pot with a tight lid to keep them from drying out while you prepare everything else.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.  Whisk together the peanut butter, sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and set aside.

Then heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium-high to high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the tofu and sauté until the tofu browns on most sides, turning the tofu every few minutes.  Sprinkle on salt and pepper while it's cooking. When the tofu has browned, move it to a bowl and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium-high and add a bit more canola oil (or water) to the same skillet.  Add the garlic, broccoli, and snow peas and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables become bright green.  Add the green onions and sauté for another minute or two.  Then, add the tofu, noodles, and sauce to that pan and stir to combine.  Cook until all ingredients are heated through.



Garnish with sliced lemons, chopped cilantro, or chopped peanuts if desired.  Yields 2-4 servings. 

Comments:
Taste:      

I was surprised at how close this tastes to restaurant-style Pad Thai.  The lime juice really makes the dish.  Unfortunately, our Pad Thai was a bit soupy/mushy.  We had trouble cooking the rice noodles correctly the last time we used them, and it was the same story this time.  Let me know if you have any tips on cooking rice noodles!
Accessibility:        
I wasn't able to find all of the ingredients I wanted to use in this dish.  I'd recommend adding 1 cup of bean sprouts near the end of the cooking time, if you can find them.  They'll add a nice crunch.
 Ease of Preparation:   
This dish isn't very difficult to make and involves minimal chopping, but the rice noodles take a pretty long time to prepare even before you start the real cooking.  The instructions on our noodle package said to soak them in warm water for 45 minutes.  We kept the water pretty hot by heating the pot of noodles over medium-low heat throughout the soaking process, but it still takes a while.        
Non-vegan friendliness:   
The Pad Thai had a great flavor, but between the somewhat mushy noodles and the tofu, it might not be a non-vegan's favorite dish.  Still, we all really enjoyed it. 
 One last note: I think it tasted better today (one day later).  Hooray leftovers!

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