As the weather gets hotter, our meals get lighter, and I can’t think of a better summer meal than pad thai. It’s healthy, fresh, and full of texture and flavor. It’s so accommodating, too…you can eat it hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold. And how easy are rice noodles? You just soak them in hot tap water for a few minutes — what a nice change from the huge vat of boiling water you need for pasta.
Normally pad thai isn’t spicy, but I like the added heat from the Serrano pepper, and I think it complements the mild silky tofu. I loosely based my recipe on the one on the box of rice noodles, and I like it because there are no hard to find ingredients. Don’t shy away from the fish sauce. Yes, it’s made from fermented fish, and yes, it smells a little funky right out of the bottle, but it mellows out and really ads a lot of character to the dish. It keeps forever in the fridge, so pick up a bottle next time you’re passing through the Asian section of your store.
You can adapt this recipe by adding chicken, shrimp, or thinly sliced beef or pork. Stir fry the meat or fish along with the garlic, ginger, and pepper.
- 8 oz pad thai rice noodles
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 large Serrano or jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced, seeds and all
- 12 oz firm tofu, but in bite sized cubes
- 1/2 large zucchini, grated
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- a large handful freshly chopped cilantro (reserve extra for garnish)
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts (for garnish)
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce (substitute more soy for vegan and vegetarian)
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- Immerse the noodles in a bowl of hot water and soak for 8 to 10 minutes until softened. (Check the directions on the package of your specific noodles, they may require slightly more time) Drain and set aside.
- Mix the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pan or wok, and saute the garlic, ginger and pepper for a minute or two. Add the tofu and zucchini and saute for another few minutes.
- Make a space in the pan to scramble the eggs by pushing aside the tofu and zucchini mixture. Add a little more oil, and the beaten eggs. Cook, stirring, until the egg is cooked.
- Add the sauce and the noodles into the pan and toss everything well. Make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together. Finally, toss in the cilantro, bean sprouts and scallions and heat everything through.
- Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold, garnished with the peanuts, more cilantro, and lime wedges.
Vegetarians replace the fish sauce with more soy sauce.