This Easy Vegetarian Pad Thai is easy to make, slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and wholly satisfying. It can be packed full of veggies, and is easily made vegan!
You know that old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?
Well, there may be a lot of truth to that, and frankly, it may go both ways. In our house, both my husband and I like to cook. My husband took cooking classes, in fact, in Thailand, and the first time he made me vegetarian Pad Thai I was HOOKED.
What IS Pad Thai?
Hannah Klinger, in an aptly titled 2015 article for Cooking Light, “What is Pad Thai,” sums up Pad Thai perfectly:
Pad Thai is a stir-fried noodle dish, typical street fare in Thailand and perhaps the #1 order at your local Thai restaurant. The traditional version is a bit funky (fish sauce and dried shrimp), sour (fresh tamarind paste), and sweet (palm sugar). There’s also almost always a base of wide rice noodles, a generous sprinkle of crushed peanuts on top, and a lime wedge served alongside. The addition of an egg, scrambled in the wok, and a pile of fresh bean sprouts are also in most versions of the dish.
Our version here is a little simpler, but there’s really now ay to “mess up” this dish. Which is hands down one of the best things about it!
From Street Food to Take Out
The history of Pad Thai is actually fascinating.
Roberto A Ferdman, in a 2014 article for The Atlantic called “The Non-Thai Orgins of Pad Thai”, discusses this popular street food’s origins; “What’s most fascinating about pad Thai, however, is that it probably isn’t even Thai. Noodles, stir-fry, and, especially, noodle stir-fries are quintessentially Chinese.” Ferdman goes on to add that even the name pays homage to it’s likely origin, “Even the dish’s full name, kway teow pad Thai nods to its Chinese origins (kway teow is Chinese for rice noodles).”
Though it might have roots in Chinese cooking, this popular and versatile dish now has a presence all it’s own. It’s popular all over the world and can be a great entry point into Thai cooking. Even if it has Chinese roots, the dish has a few hallmarks of what I think as distinctively Thai – a blend of sour, sweet, and spicy that, when done right, balances between those sensations like a ballerina in toe shoes.
We actually eat this as often for breakfast as for dinner.
I love how versatile it is. We can make up a big batch of veg that will offer us several servings of Vegetarian Pad Thai. This way, it’s both leftover and fresh every time. It takes only minutes to boil the noodles and toss them with the leftover veggie mix.
I also love that this is such a satisfying, comforting meal. Honestly, this is one dish I can eat all the time. And my husband and I pack it with veggies, usually doubling (or more) the amount you would normally use.
While the traditional method of making Pad Thai calls for fish sauce and egg, ours omits that. The result is a vegan friendly dish that you can make for one or make for a crowd and non vegans won’t miss a thing!
Some will argue that this isn’t even Pad Thai without the fish sauce. That argument may even be valid, but I’m ok with this being a riff on the traditional dish, because it is still delicious!
Packable Pad Thai
While we sometimes save a portion of the veggies for another day, and just make fresh noodles and then stir them all together in a hot wok or skillet, sometimes there’s nothing like leftover vegetarian Pad Thai noodles. Warm or cold.
I frequently pack a bowl of leftover vegetarian Pad Thai to take for lunch and let me just tell you. Those are good work days!
Sweet Chili Sauce
This recipe uses Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce. Other kinds of sweet chili sauce are readily available in stores, but we have found that Mae Ploy is FAR and away the best for Pad Thai. The good news is, though, if you can’t find it locally, you can find it on Amazon here!
Are you fond of Thai cooking?
My husband and I make several Thai style curries, would you be interested in seeing some recipes for Thai Green or Red Curry? Let me know in the comments!
Easy Vegetarian Pad Thai
- 2 Tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 Onion, sliced
- 1 16 oz Carton Vegetable stock Will only use about a half of this carton on average.
- 1 Large Eggplant (about 2 cups)
- 1 Red bell pepper, sliced
- 6 Mushrooms, sliced
- 1 Yellow zucchini, sliced
- 4 Tablespoon Soy sauce May use more or less to taste.
- 4 Tablespoon Sweet chili sauce May use more or less to taste.
- 2 Tablespoon Brown sugar
- 1 Lime
- 1 Pack Soba noodles
- 2 Tablespoons Roasted cashew nuts
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Cilantro Leaves
- Slice onions, mushrooms, and bell pepper thinly. Chop eggplant and zucchini into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Prepare a medium size pot for boiling water.
- Whisk eggs and set aside.
- Heat oil in a wide skillet or wok and add onions, cook until soft
- Add chopped eggplant to wok or skillet: cook on medium high, adding vegetable stock little by little to soften the eggplant pieces. Cook until eggplant is very, very soft.
- Add zucchini and cook until soft.
- Add mushrooms and pepper and cook util soft.
- Add the sugar, about a half cup more of the vegetable stock, the juice of the lime, and the sweet chili sauce.
- Turn off heat from wok.
- Pour vegetable mixture into a bowl, leaving the wok / skillet empty.
- Cook the noodles according to instructions on pack: usually this means boiling them for a few minutes and then draining and rinsing under cold water.
- Once noodles are cooked and drained, pour whisked eggs into empty wok and begin to scramble.
- Before they are quite finished, add noodles and stir together.
- Pour vegetables over noodles and stir.
- Warm until everything is to desired temperature. Add crushed cashews on top and extra sweet chili sauce to taste. May garnish with cilantro if desired.