Chances are you’ve had pat thai before and chances are it tasted good. Chances are also high that, if you had it outside of Thailand, it lacked in authenticity to some degree. As much as I hate the use of the word ‘authentic’ in food discussion and the snobbishness (not to mention inaccuracy) it often suggests, I’d like to show you a recipe containing some ingredients that have somehow been forgotten in the exporting of this Thai street favourite.
The two ingredients that are mostly forgotten are preserved turnip and Chinese chives. Spring onions can technically be substituted for the latter but will not offer the same flavour profile. Both of these ingredients can be sourced at a large East Asian grocer.
Authentic Pad Thai Vegan Style
Most of us are familiar with pad thai (pat thai). Note there may be some unfamiliar ingredients in this preparation, which is more akin to what you will find in Thailand – Chinese chives and shredded preserved radish. I’m not sure why these ingredients have been omitted across most of the rest of the world as they are not particularly difficult to come by. If you can only find whole preserved radish pieces, cut them into a fine mince. A tip for an extra firm and flavoursome tofu is to boil it in salted water for fifteen minutes, then leave to drain and cool.
- 120 grams dried thin sen lek flat rice noodles (3mm is my favourite), soaked in room temperature water for one hour
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp plus 45 millilitres (3 tablespoons) hot water
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 150 grams of the firmest tofu you can find, cut into ¼-½ inch cubes
- 20 grams (2 heaped tablespoons) finely diced shallot
- 15 grams (1 tablespoon) shredded preserved radish/turnip
- Handful bean sprouts
- Handful chinese chives, cut into 1 inch lengths
- 1-2 tablespoons roasted chopped peanuts
- Slices of fresh lime
- Roasted chilli powder (optional garnish)
- Soak the rice noodles in warm water for one hour. Boiling them to cook aids in their demise, so don’t be tempted unless you’re okay with soggy noodles. If you are, no judgement because sometimes I like them too.
- Make tamarind water by mashing the tamarind pulp and 45 millilitres of hot water in a small bowl. Fork and/or hands will suffice. Use the back of a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to press the pulp against a mesh strainer, sieving the thick-ish liquid into another small bowl. Be sure to scrape the thick goop from the bottom of the strainer. Discard the solids left in the strainer. Mix the palm sugar, soy sauce, and salt into the tamarind water.
- Once the noodles are soaked (the consistency will be bouncy with a little firmness, and they won’t taste like they’re ready to eat yet), heat a wok to medium high heat. Once hot, add the oil.
- Stir fry the tofu, shallot, and preserved radish for a few minutes, just until the tofu begins to colour. Add the noodles and the tamarind sauce, continuing to stir fry for about a minute. If the noodles don’t soften a little under the heat, toss a tablespoon of water in to aid in softening.
- Add most of the bean sprouts and Chinese chives, stir-frying just until wilted.
- Dish up, garnishing the noodles with the remaining sprouts and chives, plus a sprinkling of peanuts and toasted chilli powder. Serve with a slice of lime.
- Servings: 2
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Cuisine: Thai