This Pad Thai was adapted (slightly) from the recipe by Lauren Toyota at Hot for Food.
I used dates as the basis for the Pad Thai sauce as I didn't have tamarind on hand, I'm interested in trying this recipe again with the sour rather than sweet base to the sauce. In any case the dates worked very well. (I do have a sweet tooth so this may colour my perception)
I had to used potato instead of carrot; I thought I had some in stock but as it turns out I did not. The replacement was not evident in terms of texture, both being starchy vegetables, and I don't think the dish lacked in flavour.
One deliberate substitution I made was the vegan oyster sauce. I have never seen such a thing, but from what I've ready a suitable substitute is stir fry sauce which replicates the intended umami taste. On this occasion I used a small amount of nori seaweed that I had left over from making tofu fish. I wanted to try and capture a sea flavour which I presumed oyster sauce would have, it seems that this was incorrect. Slightly annoyingly I had stir fry sauce in the cupboard so I could have made the substitution. There's always next time...
It took me about an hour to make this dish, a good bit of that taken up in prepping the ingredients. There's quite a lot of fine chopping and involved, something I will hopefully get faster at with some practice. Nothing too complicated in terms of technique and it all seemed to come together as expected. With a bit of practice and familiarity with the recipe I'm sure it could be made in half an hour or so.
I really enjoyed this dish. The taste was excellent, a complex combination of savoury, spice, and some sweetness that worked together very nicely. I look forward to making this dish with tamarind, which will add a level of sourness to the mix. There was a satisfying heat which I enjoyed, but it was nuanced and not overpowering. It could also be dialled down (or up) depending on personal preference.
The aroma, especially during cooking, was rich and enticing. The sauce came to life as soon as it hit the pan, giving the tofu cubes a rich caramelised glaze.
I loved the variety of textures as well, the broccoli especially had a very nice al dente texture contrasting with the firm tofu, and soft noodles. In the past I have often not enjoyed cooked bean sprouts, I've found them to be stringy and somewhat unpleasant, but in this they were cooked perfectly and gave a nice level of chewiness to each mouthful.
The tofu was glazed using the sauce and was absolutely delicious, far from the bland mush of unfair caricature. A caricature derived from inadequate cooking, dishes like this reveal the great potential for this humble bean curd.
I served the Pad Thai with rice to bulk out the plate as I had less noodles than the recipe called for, however given the roundedness of the dish I found this to be unnecessary and in future I will serve without this accompaniment. (Not to mention that some people in a Facebook group I am a member of took great umbrage at the idea of Pad Thai and rice!)
This was my first experience with Pad Thai, and one I greatly enjoyed. Another great recipe from Hot for Food.