This dish a great choice for a gluten free meal as you don’t have to substitute any of the main ingredients. Pad Thai is basically a stir-fry and, once the chopping is done, it involves little more than combining and stirring, coming together quickly. This version of the dish is a hearty meal even if you don’t add meat. Some ingredients in this recipe may be unfamiliar but don’t feel excessive buying them as once you make this meal once you will be sure to want to make it a regular feature at your dinner table.
The dish uses rice noodles, which are flat and range from very thin to more than a quarter-inch wide. These noodles do not require boiling. Instead, they ae just soaked in hot water until they are tender. This means you don’t have to time them quite as closely as those made from semolina pasta. The vegetables are cut into thin strips like they are in noodle form. If you really want to have fun with this recipe pick up a spiralizer and spirilize the vegetables. This actually will make the dish healthier since you’ll keep adding more vegetables just to be able to spirlize them
This recipe also uses tamarind paste, which now comes in several kosher brands available in larger kosher supermarkets or online. The paste is very sour, but has a more interesting taste than other types of citrus. The recipe calls for up to 5 tablespoons of the paste mixed with water but as different brands can vary widely in potency and the flavor may appeal more or less to different people make sure to add a little at a time and taste as you go. Fish sauce (nam pla) is also used in this dish which is made from fermented anchovies. While it smells terrible it tastes fantastic when added to this dish so don’t decide to leave it out just because of its less than scrumptious aroma. A touch of honey and rice vinegar balance out the taste.
Like Vietnamese cuisine, Thai food is made with fresh herbs and spices instead of dried seasoning. Make sure to pick up fresh herbs for a true Thai flavor to the dish.
Makes 4 servings (The recipe can be cut in half for 2 servings)
- 10 ounces pad thai rice noodles
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 red pepper cut into thin strips
- 1 yellow onion cut into thin strip
- 4 carrots cut into match sticks (they also come chopped this way already if you want to save time)
- 3-4 heads bok choy chopped
- 4 ounces mushrooms, (shiitake, cremini, white button, oyster or other wild mushrooms) stems removed and sliced
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup soft tofu (bean curd), crumbled
- 1 tablespoon sweet preserved shredded radish, rinsed, chopped into 1' pieces
- [Up to] 5 tablespoons tamarind paste mixed with 5 tablespoons water
- 3-4 t tablespoons Nam Pla or Thai fish sauce (increase according to taste)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons simple syrup
- 10 garlic chives, 4 cut into 1' pieces for garnish, the rest chopped
- 2 thumb size pieces of ginger, grated
- * 1 loosely-packed cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
- * 1/2 to 1 loosely-packed cup basil leaves, finely chopped
- * 1 loosely-packed cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground dried Thai chilies, divided
- 6 tablespoons crushed roasted, unsalted peanuts, divided
- Juice from 1 medium lime
- 4 lime wedges
Place noodles in a large bowl; pour hot water over to cover. Let soak until just tender but, 5–10 minutes. Check them every five minutes to make sure they don’t become overly soft. Drain; drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil so they don’t stick together; set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add all the veggies EXCEPT the bean sprouts and stir fry with tongs for 2-3 minutes or until just tender (if they are not spiralized but all are just chopped roughly, they will likely need to be cooked 3-5 minutes). Make sure not to overcook them or they’ll get soggy and heavy. Transfer them to the bowl with the noodles and set aside.
Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add egg; cook, stirring, until egg is almost cooked through, 2–3 minutes.
If Using Meat:
- Feel free to add whatever meat you’d like but sauté until lightly done before adding with the tofu and radish.
- Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add egg; stir until barely set, about 30 seconds. Add sautéed meat. Cook, stirring, until meat and egg are almost cooked through, 2–3 minutes.
Continue with directions below.
Add tofu, radish and sliced garlic cloves; cook for 30 seconds
Add noodles and vegetables cook for 1 minute
Add tamarind (mixed with water), fish sauce, honey, simple syrup and rice vinegar and stir-fry until sauce is absorbed by noodles and noodles are well coated, about 1 minute. If you have never eaten tamarind paste before, it is recommended that you start with 3 tablespoons, taste and add more tamarind in half tablespoon increments as desired. It should be tangy, but not overly sour.
Stir in bean sprouts.
Stir in chopped garlic chives.
Add 1/2 tsp. ground chilies, fresh chopped herbs (basil, coriander and cilantro), 2 Tbsp. peanuts
Squeeze one lime over ingredient and toss well
Transfer to serving plates
Garnish with remaining 1/2 tsp. ground chilies, inch long garlic chives, 2 Tbsp. peanuts, and lime wedges.
Try an off-dry wine like a Riesling from Germany. This is an especially good choice if make the dish extra spicy as Rieslings’ acidity help to tone down the spicy. Alternatives to Riesling are Muscat Blanc (aka Moscato), and Gewürztraminer both of which are slightly less acidic than the Riesling. The lower alcohol content (about 9%) of these wines also means you can drink more and more quickly without worrying as much about the effects though no good wine should be gulped. (If the spiciness is getting to you and you make vegetarian Pad Thai try milk to cut the heat. If you’ve made a meat version you’ll have to use wine or water which doesn’t help as much). Choose a Riesling, Muscato or Gewürztraminer with a touch of sweetness. The spicy flavor will cause the sugar to fade to the background and the flavor of the fruit to really come forward. You can also try a Pinot Gris with this dish which makes an excellent pairing for both a vegetable version and chicken version of this dish if you choose to use meat. Another good choice for this dish, especially when using meat, is a smooth, medium-full red wine such as Merlot or Zinfandel.
* A Note About Using Fresh Herbs
If you buy your herbs ahead of time or don’t use all that you bought (which you likely won’t) make sure to pretreat them before putting them into the refrigerator. Don’t wash the herbs until you are ready to use them as water will decrease how long they will keep. Remove anything that is used to hold the herb bunch together such as rubber bands as these will bruise and decrease longevity and flavor of the herbs. Snip off the roots to prevent them from drawing moisture from the rest of the herb and causing it wilt prematurely. For herbs with large or long roots, save them for use in soups or curries.
Chop herbs as finely as possible as the finer they are chopped the more oil they’ll release and the more fragrant and favorable they will become. Use a very sharp knife when chopping them to prevent the leaves from bruising, losing flavor and turning an unattractive black. Delicate herbs like parsley, basil and cilantro should be chopped just before they are used as their aroma is lost quickly. Add these types of herbs immediately after you’ve removed the dish from the heat or right before serving.
Eliminate the Work of Fresh Herbs
Natalie Frank (author) from Chicago, IL on February 20, 2017:
Thanks for the comment! With the substitutions it's really a lot easier than it looks. And I haven't tasted a better version! Especially for those who are gluten free. Hope you keep reading. Take care.
Nicole Jakes from Denver, CO on February 20, 2017:
This looks incredible! I'm not going to lie, I found a couple of single serve gluten free pad thai meals that I've been eating a lot of lately. Maybe one day I'll return to being motivated and try to makes this...one day! :-)