I think we can all agree that Thailand has completely nailed it with the creation of Pad Thai. Pad Thai is incredibly delicious, easy to prepare, and very flavorful.
It usually is one of the unhealthiest dishes you can eat in a Thai restaurant – luckily, this one is different. This Vegan Pad Thai contains many delicious vegetables, and some of the noodles are replaced with spiralized zucchini and carrots.
Moreover, it includes a heavenly creamy peanut sauce that adds a hint of nuttiness to the dish. It only takes 30 min to prepare, and, of course, a gluten-free option is available.
(Vegan) Pad Thai comprises all five basic tastes
Pad Thai is the national dish of Thailand. It originated in the 1930s and was meant to revive nationalism.
Since then, the love for Pad Thai has spread across the globe. But what makes this dish so special? A classic Pad Thai contains fish sauce, tamarind, garlic, palm sugar, dried shrimp, and red chilies. These simple ingredients provide Pad Thai with the five basic tastes – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. When you eat Pad Thai, all your taste sensations are immediately stimulated.
Don’t worry; even though this Vegan Pad Thai is not prepared traditionally, it will still appeal to all basic tastes.
If you want to know everything about Pad Thai, here’s a great article: Thai Food 101 – What Made Pad Thai So Popular?
Tamarind paste is especially great for vegans
The classic Pad Thai sauce contains palm sugar, tamarind paste, and fish sauce. Of course, we omit the fish sauce, but the tamarind paste is entirely vegan.
Tamarind paste is one of the essential ingredients in Thai cuisine. It is especially great for vegans because it adds umami, that savory element that is sometimes missing in meatless dishes.
Tamarind paste is made from tamarind. Tamarind is a sour, sticky, dark fruit that grows in a pod on the tamarind tree. In Thai cuisine, tamarind paste is popularly used for savory dishes.
Tamarind paste is available in Asian stores, but you can also easily find it online. I bought mine from Amazon.
Let's get started
For this recipe, I added mushrooms, zucchini, and carrots to the Vegan Pad Thai. However, you can substitute and change the vegetables to your liking.
I use low-sodium soy sauce to replace the fish sauce in the classic Pad Thai recipe. If you use regular soy sauce, the dish might become too salty. However, if that doesn’t bother you, you can use the conventional version.
Also, if you want to prepare a gluten-free variant, use tamari soy sauce, which usually does not contain gluten.
The tofu and plant-based chicken make the whole dish protein-rich. However, you can omit both or use just one of them if you like. If you decide to include tofu, make sure it is firm.
If you don’t have tamarind paste at home, you can substitute it with lime juice.
Vegan Pad Thai
- Large Pot
- 100 g rice noodles gluten-free
- 2 tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 big yellow onion julienne
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 160 g plant-based chicken
- 100 g firm tofu cut into 1 x 1 cm cubes
- 100 g bean sprouts
- 200 g mushrooms quartered
- 1 medium zucchini spiralized
- 2 medium carrots spiralized
- 3 tbsp peanuts finely chopped
- 2 tbsp creamy salted peanut butter
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste or 1 tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari soy sauce for a gluten-free option
- 100 ml water
- Soak the rice noodles according to package instructions. Alternatively, you can bring water to a boil in a pot. Once it boils, remove the pot from the heat and add the noodles. Let the noodles soften in the hot water for about 5 minutes.
- Prepare the sauce in the meantime. Combine all the ingredients of the peanut sauce in a small bowl. In case the peanut butter is very firm, you can melt it over a water bath or in the microwave. This makes it easier to stir.
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 2 min. Add the chicken and fry for around 3 min until mostly cooked through.
- Next, add the tofu, bean sprouts, and mushrooms — fry for about 2 minutes.
- Add the spiralized zucchini and carrots. Sauté until they are a little softer but still slightly crispy.
- Add the rice noodles and then the peanut sauce. Toss gently for about 1 minute until noodles absorbed the sauce
- Add half of the peanuts. Quickly toss and remove from the heat.
- Serve immediately with a lime wedge on the side. Sprinkle with remaining peanuts.
- Replace soy sauce with tamari sauce for a gluten-free option.
- Add your favorite vegetables.
- Make sure to use firm tofu.