Student Recipe: Vegetarian Pad Thai

As a third culture kid hailing from Thailand, I tend to reminisce of Thai food a lot. Especially Pad Thai, the one Thai dish made well-known by Western influence. Pad Thai is a popular street food – stir fried rice noodle dish generally made with firm tofu, tamarind pulp and fish sauce (or soy sauce for vegetarians). It’s usually served topped with fresh sprouts, spring onions, and peanut powder as garnish. The dish is said to originate from Ayutthaya, Thailand. Some believe that Vietnamese traders may have altered the flavor profiles, whilst others insist that the dish is of Chinese descent. Wherever the dish may have drawn its influence, it still stands as one of Thailand’s national dishes.

The Thai flavor profile often dwells in the balance between sweet, salty, spicy and sour. This may bewilder a person who reads it at first, but that’s why they say, you need to experience the Thai cuisine. However, whenever any dish is made, one of the four profiles is accentuated whilst the others are in support of balancing the dish. For instance, you could make a spicy Thai red curry, but there would be underlying sweetness to neutralize the excessive spice. In this dish, the tanginess of the dish is accentuated, whilst the sweet and salty profiles support the dish.

Pad Thai Ingredients

For this dish, you will need:
• 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
• 2 tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce
• 3 tablespoons Light Soy Sauce
• ½ cup Tamarind Pulp Water
• Thin Kway Teow Noodles
• Suitable amount of Salt and Sugar (to taste)
• ½ Lemon
• 2 cloves minced Garlic
• 1 sliced Chili
• ½ block Tofu
• 1 tablespoon diced Spring Onions
• 1 cup Beansprouts
• (optional) Baby Corn
• (optional) Crushed peanut or peanut powder

Preparatory Steps

  1. Dice the vegetables.
  2. Soak the tamarind pulp in water and mix well.

Steps for Cooking:

  1. Boil water in a pot, and cook the Kway Teow noodles following the instructions on the package.
  2. Drain the water and keep the noodles aside.
  3. Heat another pot, and add 2 tablespoons of oil.
  4. When the oil is hot, add in Garlic, Chili and the diced bottom-part of the spring onions.
  5. Sautee the vegetables until the spring onions bottom looks translucent.
  6. Add in the remaining vegetables, Spring onions, Sprouts, tofu and baby corn.
  7. Sautee until the tofu and sprouts sweats.
  8. Add in the Dark Soy Sauce, Light Soy Sauce, and some salt and sugar.
  9. Add in the water of the pre-soaked tamarind pulp.
  10. Let this mixture boil for a bit. Meanwhile, taste the dish and adjust the seasoning to personal preference. The dish should have a balance between sweet, salty, and tanginess.
  11. Add in the noodles and stir fry in medium high heat.
  12. As garnish, add uncooked sprouts, peanut powder and chili flakes. Squeeze the lemon juice and serve hot!

Pad Thai

Last but not least, enjoy!

By Simran Venkatraman

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"There is no sincerer love than the love for food." - George Bernard Shaw

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