Vegetarian Pad Thai and Curried Potatoes

I absolutely love Thai food. It is by far my favorite cuisine, and it’s really easy to find veggie dishes and tofu entrees. Sadly, there are no Thai restaurants in my little mountain town so I like to try and cook my own Thai food from time to time. I’m getting pretty good with the appropriate flavors but I need to work on spicing things up a bit. Not Thai Hot, of course, just a little more depth. Pad Thai is a common favorite and I love anything to do with curry and coconut milk. All of the ingredients for these recipes can be found at a regular grocery store with the exception of tamarind paste. This is available at Indian food stores, some health food stores, or on the Internet. Even though it’s terribly inauthentic, I usually make my pad thai with linguine because I can’t get my hands on rice noodles (although they would be preferable, you can usually only find them at Asian groceries).

Vegetarian Pad Thai (based on this recipe)

  • 1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into squares or strips
  • 1/2 c. cornstarch
  • 12 oz. linguine
  • 3 Tbsp tamarind (from a pliable block, like this)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha (or other hot sauce)
  • a few tablespoons of peanut oil
  • 3-4 scallions
  • 2 c. bean sprouts (fresh tastes better, but I’ve used canned in a pinch – just drain and rinse first)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 c. crushed peanuts (add peanuts to a zip lock bag, and hit with a rolling pin to crush peanuts)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped

First, set the noodles to cook according the package directions. While they’re boiling, prepare the sauce. In a bowl, pour the boiling water onto the tamarind. Let sit for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour mixture through a sieve into another bowl, crushing the tamarind pulp against the side of the sieve with a fork. Basically, you’re wanting to separate the pulp from the seeds and tough fibers. Compost what’s left in the sieve. To the tamarind liquid, add soy sauce, brown sugar, and Sriracha, combining well. When the noodles and sauce are ready, heat peanut oil in a large wok or frying pan. Coat tofu in cornstarch and fry until golden. Remove from pan. Add garlic, shallots, and bean sprouts and stir fry on med-high heat. After a few minutes, add cooked noodles. The frying time is up to you – you just want to make sure the noodles get a little browned. Lower heat and stir in the green onions. Add tamarind sauce and use tongs to coat the noodles. Add tofu back to pan and heat everything. Before serving, stir in cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice, and crushed peanuts.

Curried Potatoes and Peas

  • 4-5 potatoes, chopped into fairly small pieces
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can peas, drained and rinsed (or use about 1 1/2 c. frozen peas)
  • 3 Tbsp red curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand is found in most stores)
  • salt to taste
  • sugar to taste

In a medium sauce pan, boil the potatoes in coconut milk, stirring often to avoid burning the milk on the bottom of the pan. When the potatoes are cooked (pierce with a fork to check), stir in curry paste, salt, and sugar. Add more salt or sugar depending on your tastes. Add the peas and heat through.

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