Try this refreshing and delicious take on Pad Thai. Plenty of vegetables, some crunch and authentic flavor.
We are back from our short Spring Break trip. We went to Yosemite National Park again because we love it there! We always stay in Groveland where we rent a cabin. Groveland is only 3 hours away from San Jose and about 25 miles from the entrance to Yosemite. The population in Groveland is about 600 people, and there are not that many things to do there, to be honest. In the summer, as a renter, you have access to the swimming pool and open all-year-long golf course. There is also a Pine Mountain Lake with a small beach, picnic tables and volleyball court. The first time we went there was about 9 years ago and at that time there was only 1 restaurant there that was open only few times a week. Now, there are 3 pizza places, a Mexican restaurant, Subway, few coffee/ breakfast spots and a small art gallery. You are also guaranteed to encounter deer often.
Above is the picture of the cabin we rented.
The waterfalls were spectacular as you can see. Spring is always the best time to see them in their full beauty and power. Since we finally got some rain this winter the view was truly breathtaking.
Before we left I finally got to photograph this delicious Vegetable Pad Thai. I’m a huge fan of Thai food with its aromatic, spicy and flavorful dishes. Long time ago, my husband and I used to live in the heart of Silicon Valley, Mountain View. One of our favorite activities was walking downtown for dinner. Almost weekly we ate at Amarin, an amazing Thai restaurant. Jud would always order Pineapple Curry with shrimp, served in a carved out pineapple half. I would always get their Mango Seafood special with shrimp and squid only and no onions! Not sure why I always asked for no onions, since I cook with them all the time. Anyway, their food was always spot on. Thai iced tea and fried ice cream always completed the meal.
Recreating your favorite restaurant meal at home can be challenging, especially with Asian or Indian cuisines. Not sure how many times I’ve tried making broccoli beef at home and I’ve never being able to get it quite right! Today’s recipe, in my opinion, is very close to a great pad thai and certainly is better than a few I tried. It’s important to have all of the ingredients prepared since the dish is ready in 10 minutes or so.
First thing, the sauce!
The sauce is crucial to achieving the right flavor of the entire dish. It needs to be perfectly balanced between sour, sweet, salty and spicy. One of the sauce ingredients is tamarind paste. Tamarind is a dark, sour fruit that grows in pods. It comes as a paste, pulp, concentrate or even dried pods. It can used in desserts and savory dishes. If you can’t find it, use either 1 tablespoon of vinegar or 2 tablespoons of lime juice per 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste.
Make the sauce by combining tamarind paste, soy sauce, fish sauce, chili sauce or cayenne pepper, vegetable or chicken broth and brown sugar. Taste it and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Again, you are going for sour and sweet at first, then salty and spicy. As far as the spiciness, you know what you like, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper is probably enough for most people. If you are not sure, start with a good pinch and taste-test it. Set it aside.
Prepare the vegetables. I used zucchini, carrots, bell pepper, bok choy and mushrooms. Cut the first 3 vegetables into long thin strips to match the noodles. Spiralizer will work great here. My dual vegetable peeler has a side for julienne cut and I use it often. Bok choy leaves need to be separated and then each leaf needs to be separated again between the white and green parts. Halve the white parts. Leafy parts will go into the wok later since they wilt quickly. Clean and quarter the mushrooms.
While chopping the vegetables, bring a large pot of water to boil (or boil water in a kettle and pour it into a large bowl), then turn the heat off and add Thai rice noodles. Leave them in for only 4 minutes, then drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. Set aside.
Next, prepare the aromatics: white parts of green onions, grated ginger, pressed garlic and sliced red chili pepper. For less spiciness, remove the seeds from the pepper or leave just few.
With all of the ingredients ready, heat up the wok. Add some oil and add all of the aromatics. Stir 1 minute on a medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Then add white parts of bok choy and bell pepper. After another 2 minutes add julienned carrots and zucchini. Stir well.
Push the vegetables to the side and add 1 egg. Stir it with a fork until it turns into scrambled eggs, then mix it with vegetables.
To loosen up the noodles, briefly run some warm water through them and transfer them to the wok. Using tongs, mix them well with vegetables. Pour in about 1/2 of the pad thai sauce and stir well in a circular motion. When all of the sauce is absorbed, pour in the rest and stir well again. Stir-fry about 3 more minutes, then turn off the heat. Add green parts of bok choy and bean sprouts. Gently mix them in.
To serve, sprinkle generous amounts of chopped cilantro, green onion and toasted peanuts. Top with sliced red chili pepper. Freshly squeezed lime juice is a must!
Go make it. You are going to love it!
I’m so hungry right now.
Makes: 2 big servings Prep time: 20 minutes Ready in: 30 minutes
Pad Thai Sauce:
- 1.5 tablespoons tamarind paste or 1.5 tablespoons vinegar or 3 tablespoons lime juice ( it won’t be exactly the same but similar)
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon chili sauce or cayenne pepper
- 8-10 oz Thai rice noodles
- 2 medium zucchini, julienned
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- 1 bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 8 oz mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
- 1 large bok choy, green parts separated from white parts, halved
- 5 green onions, sliced, green parts separated from white ones
- 1 red chili pepper, seeds discarded or kept, sliced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 inch of ginger, grated
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 egg
- 1 (9 oz) bag of bean sprouts, preferably organic
Serve with chopped cilantro or Thai basil, toasted peanuts and lime wedges.
- Make sauce by combining all of the sauce ingredients. Taste-test and adjust it, if needed. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Turn the heat off and place the noodles in for about 4 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. Set aside.
- Prepare the vegetables as mentioned above.
- Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok (or large skillet) and add white parts of green onions, garlic, ginger and chili pepper. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes, then add white parts of bok choy and bell pepper. Cook additional 2 minutes and add julienned carrots and zucchini. Stir well.
- Push the vegetables to the side and crack an egg. Stir with a fork until it scrambles. Fold into vegetables.
- Briefly place the noodles under a warm running water to loosen them up a bit. Drain well and transfer into the skillet. Using tongs swirl the noodles around to mix them with vegetables. Pour in 1/2 the sauce and swirl everything until the sauce is absorbed. Add the remaining sauce and repeat.
- Turn the heat off and stir in green parts of bok choy and bean sprouts.
- Serve garnished with green onions, cilantro or Thai basil, toasted peanuts and lime wedges.