Sunshine Pad Thai (Vegetarian)
The pad thai recipe you're looking for! Try this simple trick to make a turmeric noodle version.
Pad thai is nearly always a crowd-pleaser. It's the sort of food that's good, even when it's bad. I mean, everyone loves a noodle-based stir-fry. Also, all the gluten-free people can get on board, because, rice noodles. Today's pad thai recipe is the riff I've been making lately - combining a Thai heart and a California spirit. Hot water is traditionally used to soften the rice noodles. I boost that water with lots of turmeric and the noodles drink it up until they glow a hot yellow. Also, this typically ends up being a one-dish meal for us, and I can't help but add a significant green component. Enter broccolini.
The Pad Thai Set Up
Like any other stir fry, you want to have all your ingredients prepped, and your noodles soaked before you fire up the burner. Once you start cooking, things go down fast. For this recipe I have you cook the broccolini first, remove it from the pan, and then proceed with the recipe. One pan meal.
The other wild card here is in relation to the bean sprouts. Sometimes, none of the stores within walking distance of my house have them, or they are sad looking. I substitute dice celery, which I actually love - lots of crunch and flavor! Hope you enjoy!
A number of you have left tweak and variations in the comments that I wanted to highlight. Shanti noted, "I used normal broccoli and also threw in peppers and carrots I had lying around for extra crunch." Similarly, Christine says, "we used regular broccoli instead of broccolini – next time I will use even more. I also used both celery AND sprouts to up the veggie content." Jen is a cook after my own heart (using what she had on hand) saying, "Made this with what I had – broccoli, cashews for peanuts, no green onion or bean sprouts/celery – and brown rice noodles. Still delicious!"
For you turmeric lovers, you can also browse these turmeric recipes. This pad thai recipe is one of my favorite ways to incorporate the super spice, but you'll find lots of other ideas as well. Enjoy!
Sunshine Pad Thai (Vegetarian)
Rice noodles come in varying thicknesses - I like to opt for the wide ones - 1/4-inch. As far as sugar goes, you can use brown, palm, or coconut sugar here. Or, granulated sugar. To go the extra step and make this vegan, simply leave out the egg - still really delicious! Keeping things gluten-free? Look for tamari or soy sauce labeled gluten-free.
- 6 ounces dried rice noodles
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried turmeric powder
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons vegetarian "fish" sauce or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 1 bunch of broccolini, trimmed
- 6 ounces extra-firm tofu, crumbled
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup bean sprouts or diced celery
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
Fill a large bowl with boiling water, stir in the turmeric, and the noodles. Use a fork to swish them around a bit, and soak until the noodles are pliable and bendy - 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In the meantime, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce in a small bowl.
Just before you're ready to eat, heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Stir in the broccoli, cover, and allow to cook for a few minutes, until the broccolini is bright green, but still al dente. Remove it from the pan, and set aside. Next, add the tofu to the pan, and cook until it begins to brown, a couple of minutes. Add the noodles, and the sauce, and stir constantly until the noodles absorb the sauce - a minute or so.
Push the noodles to the side, add the egg, whisk and break it up with the spatula, and allow it to set a bit, 10 or 20 seconds. Break it up, and toss the egg with the noodles. Add the bean sprouts, peanuts, and scallions. Transfer to a large platter and serve topped with the broccolini, and lime wedges.
The pad thai recipe I've enjoyed most in recent years is from Kris Yenbamroong's Night + Market Cookbook, and my recipe uses his as a jumping off point. This book has been one of my favorites to cook from over the past few months, and I love that he doesn't leave home cooks in the dust. For example, he tells us it's cool to use white vinegar and sugar in place of (harder to source), palm sugar and white vinegar. And that's what you see here.
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such an incredible riff on pad thai - we like heaps of veggies so I used snow peas, regular broccoli and threw in some fresh ginger; celery instead of sprouts and some basil from the garden to finish it off. really missed the lime, but there will be a next time for sure!
Delicious! And quick to fix after a long work day! I also bumped up the veg - carrot for more colour - all quickly sautéed with some crushed ginger, chilli, & a dash more soy sauce. Hubby currently going in for seconds! Who wouldn’t?!
Love hearing it Ruth!
This has become one of my staple dishes. I usually substitute sugar with maple syrup in a smaller quantity and add a teaspoon of sesame oil to the sauce and it's divine! Thank you so much for sharing this treasure of a recipe!
This was a STELLAR dish! I double the sauce because I made extra noodles and used regular broccoli, as well as mushrooms. So incredibly yummy! I also used soy sauce (didn't have fish sauce) and cut back just a touch on the sugar in the sauce. Amazing. This is the closest I've ever gotten to a pad thai and I love how fresh, flavorful and non-greasy it is.
So happy you liked it Emily!
I'm a true fan of literaturely every aspect of the thai kitchen - of course the pad thai included. Is this version far from the classic one, or is it more of a variation?
It's a variation, but I imagine if you love pad thai, you'll love this as well!
It looks so tasty!
I've never made pad thai before, and this was surprisingly easy, delicious, and as indulgent as the pad thai at cheap thai restaurants near my house of the East Coast of the US (so not exactly authentic). A few notes: + I found that the turmeric flavor was a bit overpowering. I would add a bit less than the recipe calls for! The color was lovely, though. + I used normal broccoli and also threw in peppers and carrots I had lying around for extra crunch. + I added quite a bit of time making a vegan fish sauce for the recipe, but it definitely doesn't need it. Next time I'll just use soy sauce. Thanks for a beautiful recipe!
Glad you enjoyed it Shanti!
Both my husband and son loved this recipe (as did I). We used regular broccoli instead of broccolini - next time I will use even more. I also used both celery AND sprouts to up the vegie content. Everyone loved it (even my 'tofu-hating husband'). Will make this again!
Love this! :) xx!
Can it be made w/out egg for vegans? Thank you!
Hi Elizabeth - yes, there are instructions in the headnotes. Enjoy!
OMG! This was so easy and so good! My husband and three young kids all loved it. The only thing I had trouble with was the noodles were still somewhat firm after 7 or 8 minutes, and by that time the water had cooled such that they weren't going to cook much more in a short time. So I popped them in the microwave for 2 minutes, and that did it. Maybe next time I should cover the bowl. Oh, and the other problem with this recipe? It doesn't make enough! Everyone wanted seconds! ;) I plan to double it next time, since tofu and noodles already come in 16 oz packages.
I echo the other comments as this was a great fast and easy recipe, and welcomes substitutions or omissions. I added some matchstick carrots and didn't have tofu. Used the spindly cauliflower and broccoli sprouts from the garden, too. Loved that I didn't have to make a special trip for a small $6 jar of tamarind paste and the taste was close enough for me. Hurray! Thank you, Heidi.
HS: Glad you enjoyed it Janet!
I have so many much loved recipes from you but this is now almost my favorite. (#wafflesforever) Celery is genius! I made substitutions based on what I had on hand which included the extremely non-traditional ghee in place of sunflower oil...um that was delicious. I might do that every time :-)
I haven't made many recipes like this in the past because I find the flavors so hard to replicate at home. However, this was pretty good. It had the Pad Thai taste and was SUPER easy -- a 3 ingredient sauce! Will be saving this one for the archives.
Made this with what I had - broccoli, cashews for peanuts, no green onion or bean sprouts/celery - and brown rice noodles. Still delicious! Used fish sauce as it's what I had and lowered the sugar a bit. Put in probably 1/2 tsp of tamarind paste as well since I had it. Doubled the egg to make up for less of other ingredients. ;)
I cannot get over how absolutely amazing this is. The bright yet comforting flavors, the one pot aspect, the semi quick prep time. This recipe has it all. And after seeing you reference the Night + Market book several times now, I think I am finally ready to take the plunge and purchase it for myself. Thank you for another dynamite recipe.
Another smash hit! Delightfully light and tangy (adding the lime juice at the very end on top of the warm roasted peanuts makes it even more pizzazzy)! I threw in some shredded coconut with the peanuts when roasting, which was a delectable coup de glace. Sensational!
Yum! Made this for dinner tonight. I love the bright yellow turmeric noodles. I want to try that with other pasta...maybe in a pasta salad. Beautiful, tasty, fast dish!
I love how surprisingly simple pad thai recipes are as they always end up so flavorful and delicious. I have never seen or thought to soak the noodles in spice seasoned water, what an amazing idea! Unfortunately, I am allergic to turmeric, Heidi, do you have any suggestions for other spices I could use to soak my noodles in? BTW, I love your blog and books! And the incredibly beautiful photos from India are gorgeous!