Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes. Peanut sauce and a crunchy, lime finish? Exquisite. Fun fact: In 2011, readers ranked Pad Thai #5 on CNN’s poll of the World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods. Since eliminating gluten from my diet about two years ago, I had all but given up ordering Pad Thai in restaurants due to its gluten content, and I assumed the dish too complicated and time-consuming to cook myself. Well, all that changed with January’s edition of “Everyday Food” magazine, and the experience resulted in an additional goal for this blog: Adapting any recipe gluten-free. I call it The Gluten-Free Challenge.
Everyday Food is a fantastic food resource. I find kitchen inspiration on their blog and eagerly await their magazine each month. Flipping through the January/February edition, I was excited to see a recipe for a light, vegetarian version of Pad Thai. I realized after a quick scan of the ingredients that it would not take much to alter this recipe gluten-free (so much for a “challenge,” but I digress), and I wouldn’t spend more than a half hour in the kitchen–a plus on a busy Saturday. I merely substituted regular soy sauce with a gluten-free version Tamari sells at Whole Foods. Rice noodles are already gluten-free, and I did my homework to confirm that Sriracha contains no gluten ingredients (Here’s a fun source from BonAppetit.com: 25 Ways to Use Sriracha). I was a bit skeptical about the sauce as the only peanuts in the recipe served as a garnish. Would this recipe stand up to Pad Thai of dinner’s past?
Everyday Food’s version of Pad Thai is packed with flavor. The sauce, although not “peanuty” per say, was flavorful and full of zest. (Word of the wise: If you do not have a high tolerance for Sriracha, start light as a wee bit sure goes a long way.) I traditionally use super firm tofu rather than firm as it provides a more texture to a dish. The next time I make this Pad Thai, I plan to
beef up increase the vegetable content by adding a zucchini or two–sliced Julienne style–and a dozen or so sliced shiitake mushrooms. I would also add fresh bean sprouts as a garnish for an additional crunch, and double the sauce because…well…I like my sauces. All in all this dish was exactly what I seek in a meal: Light, Fresh, and Flavorful.
Gluten-Free Tofu and Vegetable Pad Thai
*Adapted from Everyday Food
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
8 ounces wide rice noodles (Trader Joe’s “Rice Sticks” do the trick)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 package firm tofu, drained, thinly sliced, and patted dry (I prefer the Super Firm kind)
2 medium carrots, shredded (I sliced mine Julienne for added thickness)
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons roasted salted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
1. Cook noodles according to package instructions; drain (I waited until everything was just about done to cook the noodles so I could toss them with the tofu, veggies, and sauce immediately after draining).
2. In a small bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients and set aside.
3. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add lightly beaten eggs, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook for about one minute until eggs are just about set, then transfer to a cutting board. Roll up loosely and cut crosswise into thin strips.
4. Add 4 teaspoons oil to the same skillet. Heat and add tofu in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 7-8 minutes then transfer to a cutting board.
5. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Add shredded carrots, minced garlic, and sliced scallion whites. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
6. Add noodles to the same pan and cook, stirring frequently for about one minute.
7. Add eggs and tofu. Gently toss to combine with noodles. Season to taste with coarse salt.
8. Garnish with chopped peanuts, cilantro, and scallion greens. Serve with lime wedge.