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"Practically" Pad Thai - a simplified version of a take-out favorite

meal prep pad thai vegan Nov 24, 2020

"Practically" Pad Thai....
This recipe is a rift on Pad Thai - not entirely traditional, slightly different from the dishes we've tried in local restaurants.... but a version we LOVE. 

Click Here for the Printable Recipe

I started making this after watching a video by Chrissy Teigen.  She and her mom prepare pad thai - like many moms, Pepper tosses this dish together pouring a little of this and a lot of that while Chrissy attempts to record the amounts as she goes.  There were a number of ingredients I did not have in my arsenal, and I generally stick to plant-based dishes so I've adapted the recipe using 'rural grocery store available' flavors.  

I am not typically one to measure - but I have better results when I'm more exact with this dish.  While simple, there are quite a few ingredients so I always prepare at least a double, or even triple!,  batch of the sauce.  It makes it a cinch to toss together the next time and saves on clean up.  As evidenced by my poor recipe page splattered with soy sauce - I am very messy when I measure!

Tip:  When preparing a sauce (or any dish) with many ingredients, I find it useful to gather everything to one side of my prep table before I begin.  I measure the first ingredient into each of my batch containers, and then move it to the opposite end of the table.  If I get distracted or interrupted along the way, this helps ensure I don't miss or double anything.

 The Protein
14 oz block of tofu - or - 1# chicken/pork/beef/shrimp
1 TB cornstarch (optional)
1 TB peanut oil or toasted sesame oil

The Sauce
1-2 TB Chili garlic sauce (use 2 for a little kick!)
3 TB Soy sauce
1/4 C Sweet dark soy sauce (or 2 TB molasses + 2 TB soy sauce)
1 TB Hoisin Sauce
1 TB Fish Sauce (omit for vegan option, or sub dulse flakes or miso)
1/4 C Vinegar, rice wine or white distilled
*I add 1 TB of a fermented bean curd for some extra 'funk' and umami but this is not readily available - feel free to add some miso or simply omit

Noodles & Veggies
12 oz Rice noodles
3-6 C Water, depending on the noodle size
2-4 C Veggies (broccoli, green beans, bell peppers, cabbage, bean sprouts, snap peas all work well)

Optional (but recommended) ingredients
3 TB fresh chopped garlic + 1 TB peanut or toasted sesame oil
Garnishes:  Chopped peanuts & Lime wedges

Equipment notes
I use a LARGE 12" skillet.  If you have a wok - even better!  If don't have a large enough skillet, I recommend cooking your protein in batches in a separate pan (or toss in the airfryer) and prepare the sauce and noodles in a 6-8 quart pot instead.

HOW TO....

Measure and prepare your sauce ingredients into a container(s) with at least 1-1/2 cup capacity. 
If you enjoy this recipe I highly recommend preparing 2-3 batches of sauce - it speeds up the preparation next time by not having to pull out so many ingredients

Heat the skillet or wok on medium high.
Drain & cut the tofu into bite size cubes, toss with cornstarch if desired, and brown in a tablespoon of oil.  I like the flavor of peanut oil in this but it's hard to source - I typically only see giant fryer size jugs - so I use toasted sesame. 
Remove the tofu and set aside.  
Note:  If using chicken or beef, you won't need to remove from the skillet as it will require longer cooking time.

Add another TB of oil to the pan and quickly stir fry the garlic for a minute, taking care to keep stirring so it doesn't burn.  Add the sauce mixture, 3 cups of water to start, and the noodles.  Carefully stir the noodles into the sauce – tongs are helpful.  Stir often in the beginning as the noodles begin to soften to be sure they get coated in the sauce. 
My noodles take about 15 minutes to cook and required a total of 5 cups of water.  After ten minutes, I add in my vegetables.  The tofu gets stirred in at the end.   Thicker noodles will take a little longer - just keep adding water and taste testing for done-ness.
This recipe makes 3-4 servings – as per usual, I like boxing up a container for Oscar to have for dinner another night.
As I mentioned, this was adapted from a recipe shared by Chrissy Teigen – her mother is Thai and she did a video making Pad Thai.  Like many mothers…. She just pours a little of this and a lot of that!  I didn’t have all of the ingredients in my collection, so I improvised.  This recipe is very forgiving  - but I do measure which is unusual for me.  Some of the ingredients are quite potent and it turns out better if I am exact.  
It’s a fun video to watch:

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