In the late 1930s, Thailand’s prime minister held a public competition to find a new national noodle dish. The winning entry combined rice noodles, vegetables, peanuts, shrimp and egg. It was named ‘pad thai’ in a bid to promote ‘Thai-ness’ (pad means ‘stir-fry’). This vegan interpretation of that classic dish celebrates the brilliance of the original, while also bringing something new in the form of purple sprouting broccoli.
Pad thai is best eaten with as many garnishes as possible, so feel free to customize yours with shopbought fried shallots, pickled Thai radishes, bean sprouts and crushed roasted peanuts as you wish. Rice noodles are fragile, so be gentle with them.
For the pad thai sauce
- 6 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste
- 3 tbsp brown rice syrup (or 2½ tbsp agave syrup)
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp fresh lime juice (from approx. 2 limes)
For the tofu and broccoli
- 450g purple sprouting broccoli
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1.5cm ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 bird’s-eye chillies, finely chopped
- 225g firm tofu, drained and cut into 1.5cm cubes
- 250g flat folded rice noodles rapeseed oil
- 6 spring onions, finely chopped
- a handful of sesame seeds
- toasted sesame oil
- a small handful of fresh Thai basil leaves, shredded
- a small handful of fresh mint leaves, shredded
- 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
First, make the sauce by putting the peanut butter, tamarind paste and syrup into a bowl, then slowly mixing in the soy sauce, lime juice and 4 tablespoons of water.
Next, top and tail the broccoli, and put the florets into a bowl. Chop the stalks and leaves into 1cm pieces. Place the garlic, ginger, chillies and tofu in little piles within easy reach of the hob. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, rinse under cold water, drain, then drizzle with a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and toss gently with your hands.
In a large non-stick frying pan for which you have a lid, heat 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil on a medium-high flame, then fry the tofu for 5 minutes, turning every minute, until it’s pale gold. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli, cook for 2 minutes, then add the broccoli stalks and 4 tablespoons of water, cover the pan and steam for 2 minutes, until the broccoli is tender. Add the broccoli florets, sauce and spring onions (reserve a handful for garnish), stir to combine, then cover again and leave for 2 minutes.
Turn the heat down to a whisper, add the noodles handful by handful, gently mixing them in until coated in sauce, then turn off the heat. Distribute the noodles between four plates and sprinkle over the sesame seeds and reserved spring onions. Drizzle each portion with sesame oil, scatter over the herbs and add a generous squeeze of lime, and serve immediately.