15 February 2011

Veg Pad Thai with a Twist!

Among other topics, my google reader is full of food and fitness blogs. Some cross over covering both topics and some NEVER do (the baking sites!). I don't remember when I added Kristin D.'s Aqufit blog, but it was originally for the fitness info. Lately she's blogged about food that falls into the Paleo diet (basically lean meats/seafood, fruits, veggies and nuts). While I'm not Paleo, I am a longtime vegetarian trying to eat more veggies and fewer processed and starchy foods. When I saw her recipe for Paleo Pad Thai, I had to try it! Here's my vegetarian version:

Pad Thai with a Twist
Makes four generous portions with leftovers as a distinct possibility.

2 spaghetti squash (there's the twist, right off the bat, no noodles!)
1 container extra firm tofu

3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. corn starch

Pad Thai Sauce
3/4 Tbsp. Tamarind Paste (dissolved in 1/4 cup warm/hot tap water)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (more if you want more heat! or 1-3 tsp. chili sauce which I didn't have)
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
(If you're not veg and want that fish sauce taste, you'll want to check out the original recipe!)

Everything else
olive oil for stir frying
4 cloves garlic (pressed)
vegetable stock
1 package bean sprouts
chopped cilantro
ground or chopped peanuts
lime wedges

The first step in your journey to an amazing meal might be securing a stash of Tamarind Paste, if you don't already have it. If you're in Grand Rapids, Michigan, check out Lee's Asian Market on Division, just south of 28th Street. I asked the lovely lady working and she walked me right to it!

Tamarind Paste

Second step, baking the spaghetti squash. This can be done in advance of your actual stir frying. I baked mine in the morning and put it in the fridge until I was ready to put everything together. Spaghetti squash have a very tough skin, so before you cut into it, put the whole thing (one at a time!) in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. This will help soften the skin and make cutting it in half, lengthwise much easier. Once you cut each in half, scoop out all the seeds and guts. Sprinkle a little olive oil on each and season with pepper. Put them in a 350° oven on a baking sheet. Bake for 45-60 until the flesh is soft and can be scooped out. Scoop out each half and put your "spaghetti" aside until you're ready for it.

Hello, my name is Spaghetti Squash.

Baked. The half on the left, you can see I've already started scraping "spaghetti" out.

Drain the water your block of tofu came in. You're going to want to press the liquid out of it before you cut it up and marinade it. To press it: wrap the whole block in a couple sheets of paper towel and then wrap it in a clean kitchen towel. Place it between two plates and place something heavy on it - you can use magazines like I did. You'll want to check it after about a half hour and wrap it in new paper towels and/or a new kitchen towel. Check back after another half hour or so and it should about ready. If not, repeat the process. This is a trial and error system, even if it's not super dry, it's still going to work!

Catching up on some Dwell? Nah, pressing some tofu, yo! (It's hiding between the stainless plates!)

While the tofu is pressing, mix together the soy sauce and corn starch for the marinade. Set it aside.

Tofu marinade in the making.

Mix together the Tamarind Paste/water combo together with the rest of the ingredients for the Pad Thai sauce and set aside. It will be somewhat lumpy from the tamarind chunks, but no worries there.

When your tofu is pressed, cut it into chunks and pour the marinade over it. I put mine in a plastic container that I could shake up as it was marinating. Let it sit until you're ready to stir fry.

Pressed tofu, cubed and ready for the marinade.

Heat your wok (or other large fry pan - the bigger the better) over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan and your minced garlic. Stir for about 30 seconds.

Add the marinated tofu. Stir fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute. When the wok starts to get sticky, add 1-2 Tbsp of vegetable stock at a time to keep things stirring smoothly. Continue this process for 5-8 minutes.

Add the baked spaghetti squash. Eyeball how much your wok can hold. I probably had one half of a squash that I didn't use because it was getting too crowded in the wok! Pour the Pad Thai sauce over and stir fry for a few minutes until everything is heated through.

Add the bean sprouts and stir fry for about another minute.

Ready to wow your taste buds! Enjoy!

Gather the hungry masses and start plating it up, either individual plates or if you're serving a crowd, put it on a serving plate. Top with the chopped peanuts and lots of chopped cilantro (or as my family calls it, "green gold"). Serve with lime wedges and enjoy!! I had seconds and can attest, it makes a delicious lunch.

1 comment:

Musings From The Edge said...

Very nice! Can't wait to make it!