We had guests for dinner Friday night so, of course, we tried out a new recipe. No point in bringing out the tried and true, we want a bigger crowd for our experiments. I'm happy to say that this was a big hit. The recipe is from America's Test Kitchen's, Vegan for Everybody (yes, I love ATK and Cooks Illustrated), and we followed it almost to the letter. Cooking is not really fun unless you put your own spin on it, don't you think?
This recipe serves 4. We doubled it for company (there were 6 of us) and had plenty left over. We also served it with vegan fried rice, throwing whatever was fresh from the garden into the pan before adding in the cooked and cooled rice.
Tofu Pad Thai
3 T tamarind paste
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos (vegan fish sauce substitute)
3 T organic sugar
2 T rice vinegar
1 T vegetable oil
1/8 Tsp cayenne pepper - this gives a very mild heat, so if you like it hotter add more, or place your choice of hot sauce/siracha on the table for diners to adjust the heat themselves
Noodles, Tofu and Garnish
8 oz (1/4 inch wide) rice noodles
14 oz extra-firm tofu
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 shallot, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced - we like garlic and upped that to 5 cloves
6 oz bean sprouts
4 scallions, sliced thin on bias
1 to 2 T lemon grass - this lends a strong lemon flavor, so you may want to start light
1/4 cup minced cilantro - I used less, since it's not a favorite with many people
2 T chopped dry roasted peanuts
Cover noodles with very hot tap water in large bowl and stir to separate. Let noodles soak until pliable but not too soft. About 20 minutes, then drain.
Spread tofu on paper towel lined baking sheet and top with another paper towel. We placed a weighted cutting board on top of that to help push the liquid out of the tofu. Let drain for 20 minutes. Gently pat dry with paper towels.
For the sauce, soak tamarind paste in boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer, pressing out solids to extract as much pulp as possible. The paste I purchased had no solids, so it was unnecessary to strain. Thank goodness. Whisk Bragg Liquid Aminos, sugar, vinegar, oil and cayenne into tamarind liquid. Set aside.
Cut the tofu into 3/4 inch cubes. Toss with cornstarch in a bowl. Transfer to a strainer and gently shake off excess cornstarch.
Heat 3 T vegetable oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add tofu and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
Using the same skillet, and still at medium heat, add 1 T of oil. Sauté shallot and garlic until lightly browned.
Give a quick whisk to your sauce and add the noodles and sauce to skillet with the garlic and shallot. Cook, tossing gently until noodles are evenly coated. Add browned tofu, bean sprouts, lemon grass and scallions and cook, tossing gently until tofu is warmed through and noodles are tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Place in serving bowl and top with cilantro and peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.