Vegetarian Tofu Pad Thai Recipe

The Kid has been a vegetarian for several years, so I created this vegetarian tofu Pad Thai recipe for her. It features pan-fried, crispy tofu sautéed in sesame seed oil, with all the traditional Pad Thai accompaniments. It’s totally delicious, and I think you won’t even miss the meat in it. This recipe is great for meatless Monday, or anytime that you want to sneak some healthy, vegan proteins into your diet. If you want to make it 100% vegan, then omit the scrambled eggs and fish sauce.

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What I Love About This Vegetarian Tofu Pad Thai Recipe

This recipe packs a huge flavor punch without any meat. It’s great for Meatless Mondays! Pad Thai is a little time consuming to make because of all the ingredients, but I promise that this recipe is quite easy to make.

The secret to yummy (pan-fried) tofu is to make sure that the tofu is sufficiently drained before throwing it in the pan. That’s because tofu is usually packed in water, and the water content … makes it difficult to fry. That’s why this recipe is a little different than the rest of the Pad Thai recipes, in that we start with cooking the tofu, and then we toss in the garlic and onion.

You’ll be having a Pad Thai month as you try out all the different varieties!

Health Benefits of Tofu

Tofu, a versatile and nutritious food made from soybeans, is a staple in many vegetarian and vegan diets. Rich in protein and containing all nine essential amino acids, it is an excellent plant-based protein source. Tofu is also a valuable source of iron and calcium, which are crucial for healthy bones and blood. Low in calories and containing no cholesterol, it is beneficial for heart health and weight management. Its isoflavones have been linked to reduced risks of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Moreover, tofu’s mild flavor and adaptable texture make it a great ingredient for a variety of dishes, contributing to a balanced and healthful diet.

a plate of cheese
Photo by Christina Deravedisian on Unsplash

Kitchen Equipment Needed

  • Strainer
  • Large pan or wok
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing spoon or spatula
  • Pot for boiling noodles

FAQs

  1. What type of tofu is best for this recipe?
    For Vegetarian Pad Thai, extra-firm tofu is the best choice. Its dense and solid structure holds up well during stir-frying, ensuring the tofu maintains its shape and texture amidst the other ingredients. This consistency is important for achieving the right balance in the dish, both in terms of flavor and presentation.
  2. Can I make this dish gluten-free?
    Yes, this recipe can be easily adapted to be gluten-free. Simply replace the soy sauce with gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos. These alternatives provide a similar umami flavor profile but without the gluten, making the dish safe for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.
  3. How do I thicken the Pad Thai sauce if it’s too runny?
    If your Pad Thai sauce turns out too thin, you can thicken it using a cornstarch slurry. Mix a teaspoon of cornstarch with a couple of teaspoons of cold water, then stir this mixture into the sauce. Let it simmer for a minute or two. This method will thicken the sauce without altering its flavor.
  4. What’s the best pan to use if I don’t have a wok?
    If you don’t have a wok, a large, deep skillet or a non-stick frying pan is a great alternative. These types of pans offer ample space to stir and toss the ingredients effectively, which is crucial for evenly cooking and combining the flavors in your Pad Thai.
  5. How can I enhance the flavor of the tofu?
    To infuse more flavor into the tofu, consider marinating it before cooking. A mixture of soy sauce, lime juice, and a hint of sriracha for at least 30 minutes will allow the tofu to absorb these flavors, leading to a more flavorful and enjoyable dish.
  6. What’s the best way to store and reheat leftovers?
    For storing leftovers, first allow the Pad Thai to cool to room temperature. Then, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate. When reheating, you can use either a microwave or stovetop. If using a microwave, sprinkle a little water over the Pad Thai to prevent drying. On the stovetop, reheat it in a pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You may add a splash of water or broth to rehydrate the noodles.
  7. How long will the dish last in the fridge?
    When stored correctly in an airtight container in the refrigerator, Vegetarian Tofu Pad Thai can retain its best quality for about 3-4 days. Beyond this period, it may start to lose its freshness and vibrant flavors, so it’s best enjoyed within this timeframe.
  8. Is it possible to freeze this dish?
    While you can freeze Vegetarian Pad Thai, it’s not generally recommended. The texture of rice noodles tends to suffer when frozen and then thawed, often becoming mushy. However, if you decide to freeze it, make sure it’s in a well-sealed, airtight container. It should maintain its quality for up to 2 months in the freezer.
  9. What can I serve with Vegetarian Tofu Pad Thai?
    Complement your Vegetarian Tofu Pad Thai with side dishes like vegetable spring rolls, air fryer vegetables, or a fresh creamy cucumber salad. These additions can round out the meal, offering a balance of textures and flavors that enhance the overall dining experience.
  10. Are there any substitutions for special diets?
    For those following a dairy-free diet, ensure that all sauces and garnishes used are dairy-free. For a nut-free version, omit peanuts and use a nut-free sauce. These adjustments allow individuals with dietary restrictions to enjoy the dish without compromising on taste or their dietary needs.

Photo Steps

The first step is to drain the tofu. I like to lay it in a strainer for 10 minutes to let it drain.
Stir fry the cubed tofu, and then add the onion and garlic once the tofu is about 75% cooked.
Remember to chop up some peanuts as garnish!
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Vegetarian Tofu Pad Thai

Vegetarian Tofu Pad Thai

This nutritious vegetarian Pad Thai is packed with tofu, soy beans, and yumminess.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (12-ounce) package of tofu, firm or extra-firm
  • 16 ounces of rice noodles, any variety
  • 3/4 cup Pad Thai sauce without tamarind
  • 2 stalks scallions, julienned
  • scrambled eggs for garnish (optional)
  • sliced scallions for garnish (optional)
  • soy beans for garnish (optional)
  • peanuts for garnish (optional)
  • lime slice for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add rice noodles to lukewarm water. It should soak for about 30 minutes in total.
  2. Begin by removing the tofu from its package. Place it in a strainer and press gently to release excess moisture. Let it drain for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Once drained, cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil and olive oil over medium heat. Add the tofu cubes and pan-fry them until they about 75% done (they are done when they are golden brown on all sides). This should take about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  4. To the pan with tofu, add the diced onions and minced garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions become translucent.
  5. Put the tofu mixture in a separate bowl.
  6. Turn stovetop heat to high, adding the remaining tablespoon of sesame seed oil.
  7. Drain noodles and add them to the pan. Drizzle the Pad Thai sauce over the mixture, stirring constantly.
  8. Add the tofu, onions, garlic, julienned scallions to the noodles and gently toss all ingredients in the pan to ensure that the mixture are evenly coated with the Pad Thai sauce. Continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Transfer the Pad Thai to a serving dish. If desired, top with scrambled eggs, sliced scallions, soy beans, peanuts, and a slice of lime for garnish.

Notes

  • Draining the tofu before cooking is crucial for achieving the best texture.
  • Adjust the heat of the Pad Thai sauce according to taste.
  • Garnishes are optional and can be varied as per preference.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 669Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 42mgSodium 4637mgCarbohydrates 117gFiber 6gSugar 81gProtein 17g

Nutrition automatically generated.

The Final: Vegetarian Tofu Pad Thai Recipe

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