Better-Than-Takeout (Vegan!) Pad Thai

Every other Thursday, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.

Today: Make your favorite take-out meal at home. And make it vegan.

Vegan Pad Thai Recipe
Vegan Pad Thai Recipe

There’s nothing that makes me feel more smug as a home cook than the pride I take in having prepared a meal that I might otherwise have ordered as takeout. Pad Thai is perhaps my favorite example of this: It’s such a classic takeout favorite that we tend to forget that it’s fun (and delicious) to make at home. 

Traditional pad Thai includes both egg and fish sauce, but it’s amazingly easy to veganize the recipe. I don’t even fret about replacing the egg; if you use a good, rich sauce for the noodles (and the almond butter sauce in this recipe is a great example), you won’t need anything additional to create richness or binding. Sriracha, lime juice, and fresh ginger offset the richness of the almond butter and tamarind brightly.

The sauce, by the way, is just too good not to dwell on a little. I’ve tried to make it in advance of the recipe (which you can totally do), and then found myself polishing it off before it ever hits a noodle. Try it as a dip for summer rolls, as a topper for a warm bowl of grains, as a dressing for shredded cabbage, or as a way to liven up steamed broccoli or bok choy.

Vegan Pad Thai
Vegan Pad Thai

Vegan Pad Thai

Serves 4, with extra sauce

8 ounces pad thai rice noodles
6 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
3 tablespoons tamari, divided into 2 tablespoons and 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons sriracha (or to taste)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
One 14- to 16-ounce block of extra firm tofu, drained
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 large carrot, cut into thin strips
4 green onions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
Lime slices, for garnish

  1. Cook the pad thai noodles according to package instructions (this may involve soaking them for a while, so make sure to allot the proper amount of time). Toss them with a teaspoon of sesame oil to prevent too much sticking, and then allow them to cool.

  2. Whisk or blend together together the almond butter, tamarind paste, the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of tamari, maple syrup, sriracha, lime juice, and water. Set aside.

  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the tofu and cook until it’s browning on each side (8 to 10 minutes), splashing it as you go with the remaining tablespoon of tamari. Set tofu aside and reduce heat slightly.

  4. Add the garlic and ginger to the skillet (and a little extra oil if needed). Cool till the garlic is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the carrots and onions, and cook until the carrots are softened but still crisp (3 minutes or so). Add the noodles and the tofu to the bowl, along with a cup of the sauce. Stir fry the noodles till they’re creamy and warm. Add more sauce as you go along, as needed, so that it’s well coated. At the very end, stir in the mung bean sprouts, just until they’re warm.

  5. Divide the noodles onto four plates. Sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts and garnish with lime, if desired. Serve.