It’s not often that after scraping my plate clean, I pat my belly and say, “That was one of the best meals I’ve ever made.” But it has happened again, an occurrence I put down to a solid recipe and my (almost) having followed it to a T. In my last post, I made the Buddhist Chef’s terrific vegan chocolate cake, and was so impressed that I decided to try out more of his recipes. I saw this Pad Thai as a sort of stir-fry, and had some inhibitions of the absence of ginger and the addition of sugar – but the flavours were beautifully balanced. It’s a sweet, aromatic dish, one which will leave you eager to make it again.
To serve 2:
- 1 cup / block of firm tofu
- 1/4 cup / 30g cornstarch (cornflour)
- 2 French shallots (I’m sure the Chef can forgive you if you use non-French)
- 2 spring onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 tomato
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tbsp cane / brown sugar (I used only 1 and a half)
- 1 tsp chilli paste / dried chilli flakes / 1 fresh chilli
- 4 cups / 300g rice noodles
- 2 cups / 200g beansprouts, or any mix of veggies – I used broccoli and peas
- 1/2 cup / 65g peanuts
- 2 tbsps rice wine vinegar
- oil for frying – vegetable or rapeseed is good.
Begin by draining the tofu, and wrapping it in a clean tea towel. Place something heavy on top – a pile of books, big sack of pasta, a cat – and leave to press for at least ten minutes.
Julienne (is this the most beautifully-named way to prepare your veg?) or grate the carrots into a bowl. Slice the spring onions, and finely chop the onions and garlic (with the chilli, if using fresh). Dice the tomato.
Unwrap the tofu, and slice into bite-sized chunks. After coating them in cornstarch, heat a little oil in a wok or large frying pan, and fry until browned. (This is a fantastic way of achieving really crispy tofu, without deep-frying in huge quantities of oil.)
Remove the tofu, add a little more oil, and throw in the shallots, onion, garlic, carrots, and tomato. Sauté for five minutes. Meanwhile, cook the noodles as according to packet instructions.
Then, add the soy sauce (I used tamari – I think it gives a better flavour than it’s gluten-containing cousin), sugar, and chilli. Return the tofu with the beansprouts or other veggies (I stir-fried some broccoli before adding the onions) and the rice wine vinegar. Crush the peanuts into the pan, and continue cooking for three more minutes, stirring well. Serve in big bowls and eat with chopsticks, if you are so dexterously endowed.