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Confession time... I'm a vegan food blogger who's really not that into tofu. I've never seen the appeal - it doesn't taste of much, slightly soggy texture, a faff to cook. Why bother? That is, until I tried tofu cooked 'properly' at Thai restaurants and then at Wagamama - suddenly the texture was beautiful, a really crispy coating with the spongy insides, literally soaking up all the flavours of the dish.
I needed to re-create this incredible tofu at home, and read that the way to achieve this amazing texture was to press all the liquid out of it. But oh, what a faff - the common method seemed to be squashing the tofu between two plates, weighted down with pans, tins or heavy books. I tried this once or twice, and the results were fairly good, but with water all over the worktop and tins falling off everywhere, this was never going to catch on.
Then an e-mail pinged in to my inbox from Ben, the inventor and manufacturer of the EZ Tofu Press who have just started selling in the UK and wondered if I would like to test one. Yes please!
You can see how I got on below - it is such a simple idea, just two sheets of tough food-safe plastic, with tough bolts which you tighten to increase the tension every few minutes, and simply squeeze the water out of your tofu, (which needs to be the firm or extra-firm variety, not silken). You can stand it upright on a plate like I did, or even stand it in the sink so the water runs straight down the plughole as it drains out. No mess, no spills, super easy and perfect crispy tofu!
Armed with my trusty tofu press, I was keen to re-create my all-time favourite tofu recipe, and the dish I order without fail every time I try a new Thai restaurant - vegan Pad Thai Noodles. Flat rice noodles, stir fried with beansprouts, tofu, chilli, spring onions and shallots, topped with peanuts, radish, fresh coriander and lime juice, with a 'sauce' of tamarind paste, sugar and a splash of vinegar. Sweet, sour and spicy - these are totally more-ish, tingling every single one of your taste buds with each forkful.
You can see above the really lovely texture of the tofu - crispy and spongy, soaking up all those lovely Thai flavours.
I've recommended in the recipe that you press and cook the tofu first, then prepare the vegetables and sauce whilst your noodles are soaking, so everything is ready to throw into the wok or pan for just a few minutes of fast and hot cooking time. Make sure the table is set to eat these immediately - these vegan pad thai noodles are at their very best served straight from the pan, with a fresh squeeze of lime juice.
Don't forget to pin the recipe for later, or to share with friends → → → → →
.Do send me pictures of your very own vegan pad thai noodles on:
to show me how you got on!
Vegan Pad Thai: Shopping List
You will need:
- Extra firm tofu
- Flat rice noodles
- Red chillis
- Spring onions
- Fresh coriander
- Tamarind paste
- White wine vinegar
- Dry roasted peanuts
Ultimate Vegan Pad Thai
- 150 g extra firm tofu (usually found in the dairy aisle in supermarkets)
- coconut or rapeseed oil for shallow frying
- 200 g flat rice noodles
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 red chillis, deseeded and finely sliced
- 50 g beansprouts
- 2 spring onions, diagonally sliced
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp boiling water
- 2 radishes, grated or julienne chopped
- 50 g dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
- juice of 2 limes
- Press and drain the tofu for 10-15 minutes until a good amount of liquid has been released. Slice into half-centimetre thick slices, then cut each slice in half diagonally to form triangles. Lay out on your chopping board and pat dry with kitchen paper.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok, (enough to completely cover the bottom of the pan), and when hot, add the tofu slices in batches and cook on both sides until crispy and golden brown. Remove onto a plate covered with kitchen paper, and set aside until needed.
- Cook the noodles according to packet instructions - usually soaking in boiling water for c.10 minutes. Whilst they are soaking, prepare all the vegetables.
- Prepare the sauce by whisking together the honey/sugar, tamarind paste, vinegar and boiling water in a small jug. Set aside.
- In the frying pan, heat a little oil and add the shallots and chillis, and cook for 2 minutes until starting to soften. Add the spring onions and beansprouts and cook for a further minute.
- Add the noodles and tofu to the pan and cook for a further minute or two until they are piping hot. Pour over the sauce and mix to completely coat the noodles.
- Divide the noodles between plates, and scatter with coriander, peanuts and radishes, then squeeze the juice of half a lime over each serving.
There are plenty of similarly quick and easy recipes in my new book, 'Vegan in 15'*. Hop over to Amazon for a look. Thanks for your support!
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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by EZ Tofu Press, who are also providing the giveaway prize. All opinions are my own. The EZ Tofu Press is available from Amazon UK for £35.00 (free delivery).