Last week I mentioned that I thought the peanut sauce I'd made might make a nice base for a pad thai. I think all the talk and conjecture over the dish got my tastebuds hankering for it, so I decided on Sunday to do a bit of experimenting and see if I might be able to modify the sauce in such a way as to make it taste pad thai-ish.
I originally wanted to add the tamarind paste that so many pad thai dishes call for, but I was unable to track it down. (I'm going to have to keep my eye out on future trips to Asian Food Marts and/or Wild Oats.) So then I decided to see if ketchup might be an ok substitute (I'd seen that in a few recipes as well), but when I tried it in a wee bit of sauce, it tasted nast, so I gave up on that idea.
After all was said and done, the only alterations I made were the substitution of lime juice for the lemon, and the addition of ginger. I really liked this dish quite a lot (as did E), but it still doesn't have that very unique and specific pad thai taste to it quite yet--but hey, that just means more tasty experimentation, so I can't complain. As it stands right now, it tastes like a bit peanuttier pad thai--still damn tasty, but not yet perfect, so be forewarned.
I added mango on the side because, damn, if the flavors don't complement each other. And inspired by a recipe in Fresh and Fast Vegan Pleasures (which calls for caramelizing lemons), I caramelized some limes and served those on the side so they could be squeezed over the dish to taste. The caramelization process nixes some of their sour flavor, and adds a lovely, sweet richness to them.
- 1/2 c. peanut butter
- 1/2 c. hot water
- 4 T. soy sauce
- 3 T. vegan brown sugar
- 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
- 3 t. fresh lime juice
- 1/4 t. ginger
- A box of rice noodles
- Peanut oil (I used canola, but peanut would probably taste a lot better)
- 1/2 a block of tofu, crumbled
- Broccoli (cut in wee tiny bits)
- Bean sprouts
- Red pepper flakes
- Scallions, sliced in thin little circles
- 1-2 limes, quartered
- Mango, slivered
Make the sauce by whipping together the water and peanut butter until it is smooth. Gradually start adding the rest of the ingredients while whisking to maintain smoothness. Set sauce aside.
Soak noodles in hot (but not boiling) water for about 30 minutes or so. They will still be a bit al dente, but they will soften up when you stirfry them. Drain. Set aside.
Place a little bit of oil (maybe a tablespoon or so) into a large pan/wok (or pot if you only have smaller pans--there's gonna be a lot of ingredients) and heat. Add the tofu and fry until it's starting to cook through (but not yet brown). Add the broccoli. Sprinkle a bit of ginger on the two. Cook until the tofu is starting to brown. Toss in the bean sprouts and heat for about a minute. Then add the noodles, the sauce, and some red pepper flakes to taste. (You may need to spray the pan again with nonstick spray first so the sticky peanut butter sauce doesn't make the noodles stick--you may not.) Stirfry until the noodles have softened some (without becoming mushy).
Remove from heat. Add a tiny bit of oil back to the pan. Toss the limes in. Cook each lime-quarter for about a minute per side, until it's a bit golden. Remove from heat.
Dish out a heaping serving on a plate. Top with scallions and peanuts to taste. Encircle noodles with some slivered mango and a couple quarters of caramelized lime, to be squeezed over the noodles liberally. Serve.
Serves 4-6, depending on how big a pig you are.
LEFTOVERS: This definitely tasted more like pad thai the first day. Upon reheating, it tasted moreso like a peanut sauce, though still yummy. Don't ask me why. But it did.