Has anyone tried shirataki noodles? I've seen a few bloggers post about these "zero calorie" noodles, which are a chewy, translucent noodle made from japanese yams that can be added to soups and other dishes in place of regular noodles. Even though I'm not on a diet, I was still curious about these noodles so I finally bought a package (the Miracle Noodle brand) so that I could try them myself.
A few weeks ago, I had a craving for pad thai. Then I remembered the package of shirataki noodles sitting in my cupboard, and I figured they would be perfect to use instead of the usual rice noodles!
The noodles come packaged in a watery solution that can have a very strong "funky" smell, according to other people who have tried them. I was pretty nervous when I opened mine up, but they actually didn't smell that bad, and once you rinse them off, they're quite easy to prepare since they're precooked.
To complete my pad thai, I wanted to make it as authentic as possible. So I thought back to the amazing pad thai I ate in Thailand a couple months ago and tried to remember as best as I could exactly what was in it. I knew it had to have a spicy component from chilies, but since I couldn't find Thai chilies, I just used a jalapeno. I also remembered my pad thai having shallots, bean sprouts and green onions, so I included those as well. And for presentation, the authentic dish that I had was served with lime wedges and a handful of crushed peanuts on the side, which were mixed in to the noodles as you ate, so I tried to replicate that on my own plate.
Next came the sauce. I've seen versions of pad thai that use ketchup in the sauce, but I think the real key ingredient to get the pad thai flavour is tamarind paste, which you should be able to find for a cheap price from an Asian food mart. I ended up using this recipe for pad thai sauce but I replaced the peanut flour with peanut butter and used sriracha sauce instead of chili powder.
The final component that I would need to create a pad thai that matched the one I had eaten in Thailand would have been to add scrambled eggs to the dish. But since I don't usually eat eggs or have them around, I decided to just leave that part out. But then I came up with a new idea - why not use scrambled tofu instead?
I've actually never made scrambled tofu before, but I've seen lots of recipes for it and I knew that the texture and consistency would be very similar to eggs. So I added some crumbled tofu to the pan and stirred it around as you would with scrambled eggs, and luckily, my little experiment turned out perfectly! The tofu had just the right texture that I wanted, and it really soaked up the extra sauce, giving it lots of flavor. The addition of the tofu also helped give the dish a bit more substance and protein, since the noodles didn't provide any calories or nutrition.
Overall, my vegan pad thai may not have been truly authentic, but I thought the mixture of flavours and textures was pretty close to the original version that I tried in Thailand! I especially loved the extra dimensions of flavour from the lime juice and peanuts, so you definitely shouldn't leave those out!
I also really liked the thick, chewy shirataki noodles, but you could easily replace them with rice noodles if you prefer - just follow the cooking instructions on the package.
Pad Thai with Scrambled Tofu
Adapted from The Wannabe Chef
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2-1 tsp sriracha (to taste)
1 package (7 oz) shirataki noodles (can substitute rice noodles)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 a jalapeno pepper, minced
~4 oz firm tofu, crumbled
2 green onions, minced
1/2 cup bean sprouts
Lime wedges and crushed peanuts for serving
To make the sauce, whisk or stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Drain the shirataki noodles from their package and rinse under cold water. Let the noodles soak in a bowl of water for about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the crumbled tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the tofu is softened and lightly browned. (You can leave the tofu in larger chunks, or break it up into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon as you cook).
Drain the noodles and add to the skillet. Add the sauce and a splash of water and stir the sauce into the noodles. Once the sauce and noodles are hot, add the green onions and bean sprouts. Stir for about 1 minute, until everything is heated through and coated in the sauce.
Transfer the contents to two plates. Garnish each plate with a handful of crushed peanuts and additional bean sprouts if desired. Serve with lime wedges.