March 25, 2009

Vegan Pad Thai

We went to another cooking class last weekend but this one wasn't vegan. It was a Chinese spring roll, scallion pancake and won ton soup class. I checked with the instructor beforehand, and he promised to include some vegan friendly versions. He did make a vegan (and a shrimp and a chicken) spring roll, and the pancakes were vegan, but our samples were pretty meager compared to the rest of the class, who got to sample everything, including pork won tons and soup. Oh well. It was great to watch his technique for rolling up spring rolls and folding won tons. And the pancakes were excellent. I admit that I find it incredibly exciting to watch a professional chef mince garlic and ginger, whether I get to taste the results or not, and our teacher minced the garlic so fast you could barely see the knife move. (Is my life too sheltered?) He gave us recipes but he didn't actually measure anything himself as he cooked. He said he had a "feeling" about how much to add, which makes perfect sense to me. I know that feeling. I'm itching to go make scallion pancakes right now without a recipe, but then I won't be able to post about it. (We had scallion pancakes in Seattle but they were much greasier than these.) I'm sorry to say I didn't take any pictures. Honestly, the food didn't stay on the plates long enough to photograph it - there were some very hungry people in that class! The teacher will be doing a vegan Chinese class in May. Woohoo.

I don't have anything to post yet from the class (I may make the pancakes), but I do have something from the last class we took. I'm finally going to post a recipe for vegan pad thai, but first a few words about tamarind. I've been reading about the tamarind fruit and I can't quite figure out how to describe this ingredient correctly - there are so many versions. I've only experienced two of the forms, so I'm limiting myself to those. The tamarind in our class came in a can and was pre-mixed. It was a "cooking" tamarind rather than the sweeter dessert kind of tamarind. We just opened the can and poured
it out. That seemed to work. At our house we have a small jar of something called tamarind concentrate. It is actually from India, not Thailand, and is quite thick and tart with a little jab of sweet. If this is what you have, I'm recommending you mix a teaspoon into 1/4 cup of water and the juice of a lime for a little extra tang. Add judiciously, until it seems right to you. You may need all of it or not, depending on personal preference.

Pad Thai (adapted and printed with permission)
  • 2 limes, one juiced and one cut into wedges or half moons
  • 1/2 cup canned tamarind paste (look for "cooking tamarind" rather than sweet tamarind) or 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate in 1/4 cup water and the juice of one lime
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground dried chilies (more to taste)
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/3 cup agavé syrup
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 package Thai rice noodles (1/4"-wide flat noodles)
  • 2 tablespoons veg. oil
  • 8 green onions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 2/3 cups bean sprouts (half will be cooked and half used for garnish)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1" x 1/2" x 1/8" thick (or whatever small size you want)
  • 2 cups broccoli, cut small (I'm sure I used much more than 2 cups. Who measures broccoli?)
  • 8 ounces firm tofu, small cubes (optional)
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts, toasted (best if you toast them yourself but pre-toasted will do)
  1. Soak the rice noodles covered with warm water in a large bowl until they are limp and white, about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook until golder, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, broccoli and tofu (if using) and stir-fry about 4 minutes.
  3. Drain the noodles and add to the wok. Add bean sprouts, green onions, shallots, tamari, tamarind, agave and chilies. Toss until the noodles are heated through and the veggies are cooked.
  4. Sprinkle with peanuts, bean sprouts and raw green onions and serve immediately with a slice of lime.


  1. No, you're not sheltered! I am totally in awe of anyone who can slice up onions and mince garlic like a pro.

  2. I have a jar of that pasta and didn't have a clue what to do with it. Thank you! Looks yum :P

  3. Why does the garlic stay all in one spot when a "power mincer" wields the knife? Mine flies all around. Tsk.

    Thai rice noodles ARE yum.

  4. I have the concentrate, so I will heed your good advice. I also can get whole fresh pods at my regular grocery store, but I don't know what to do with them. I have never even made real Pad Thai!

  5. Diann,
    The tamarind has been a little hard to work with. Don't add it all at once but add as much as you think tastes good!

    Thanks for reading and commenting! I really appreciate your thoughts.

  6. I feel that way about watching professionals at work, too. And I love pad thai--have never been able to find a good vegan recipe (well, not YET--but now I am bookmarking this and must try it!) :)

  7. tamarind definitely has a particular flavor, for sure. I'm not sure yet if I adore it or if I'm afraid of it.

  8. Well, Ricki, Vegan pad thai is not quite the same as the fish-sauce kind, but this one was pretty good!

    I know what you mean. For me it's a little of both. When I get the proportion right, it's great, but too much and it's gross!

  9. this looks FANTASTIC!! Thank you!! I can't wait to try it and check out all of your other wonderful vegan recipes. I just started a vegan diet about a month ago. I've been gluten free for three years, but now trying to lower my cholesterol with a vegan diet. I heart pad thai though, this is a great alternative to the version with the fish sauce. thanks!

  10. Really good post!

  11. Gauri Radha गौरी राधा6/26/11, 1:36 PM

    Looks great!!

  12. This looks so authentic! I make a vegan pad thai but am in the market for new recipe!

    Thanks, can't wait to try this.

  13. This version always tastes great to us, and seems similar to pad Thai we've had in restaurants. My husband had been to Thailand and he thought this recipe tasted just right.

  14. At least you can use my vegan fish sauce :) for this dish! A few bloggers have tried it and loved it esp in their Thai drunken noodles.

  15. Andrea!!

    How amazing does this dish look!!! I can't wait to make it. Have you ever tried subing in cashews instead of the peanuts? I only ask this because I can't seem to find organic peanuts anywhere! And also does this dish have a bit of a kick? I noticed you used ground chilis in yours. Looking forward to hearing back from you. Thanks!!!

    - Mandy Dugas @

    1. I always use peanuts, because there's a certain peanut taste that just seems to go with Thai dishes. But, if cashews is what you have, I would use them! As for the "kick," it really depends on the chilis you use — some are mild and some are spicy. I like spicy food, but the pad Thai doesn't seem particularly spicy to me.

    2. Good to know. Thank you very much for getting back to me so soon! I can't wait to try this recipe tomorrow night for dinner!


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