Monday, December 24, 2012

Tofu Pad Thai

There is something about the end of December that puts Jews in the mood for Chinese food, or at least Asian food as it has evolved in the diaspora. If you find yourself with a block of tofu or some leftover chicken, you can whip this meal up from things you probably already have in your pantry and freezer. (You could also add scrambled eggs for protein.) NOTE: Instead of me writing "optional" on all the ingredients, just assume all the ingredients are merely suggestions.

For tofu, start by slicing or cubing the whole block. Put it in between paper towels or tea towels. Lay a cutting board on top and put some cans or other heavy things on top to squeeze out the water. This works best if all the slices/cubes are the same thickness, thus squeezed equally. You may need to switch the paper towels if they are soaked.

While the tofu is draining, mix the marinade. Use your own taste and what you have in the house, but something like
  • terriyaki sauce
  • soy sauce
  • ginger - fresh grated or powder
  • garlic - fresh grated or powder
  • silan (date syrup), molasses, or sugar
*I have a little plastic grater that I love using for fresh ginger and garlic. You can probably pick one up at your local kitchen store or order online (see images below). Mine takes up almost no space, but Amazon has  a couple in the shape of an owl.

Boil a large pot of water and cook a bag (about 1lb) of pasta I like wide egg noodles, but you could use gluten-free rice noodles, or a regular vegan noodle. *You will use some pasta water for the sauce.

Cook tofu in a large pan with some high-heat oil. All sides should get firm and golden. Add
  • About 1 bag frozen vegetables. Preferably a mix that includes broccoli. (I usually put them in a colander and poor boiling water from my electric kettle over them. Some veggies can be added right into the pasta water near the end of the pasta cooking. Or you can put them right in the pan frozen.)
  • 1/4-1/2 a cabbage, chopped
  • Whatever else you have, like bean sprouts or mushrooms
  • The remaining marinade from the tofu

Pad Thai Sauce:
In a heat-proof cup or bowl mix
  • a couple heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter
  • tehina (sesame paste)
  • a little peanut or sesame oil 
  • finely grated chili flakes
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • soy sauce
  • Add a few spoonfuls (half a ladle) of boiling pasta water and mix well.  If needed, add more pasta water until sauce is thick, but just viscus enough to poor over the pasta.

Mix tofu (or other protein), veggies, noodles, and sauce together and enjoy! And much like store-bought Chinese food, you will enjoy every bite of cold leftovers in the middle of the night or the next morning.

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