One of the classic and most iconic Thai dishes, pad see ew literally means “fried with soy sauce.” And before you grab the phone to call for takeout, follow this quick and easy recipe instead for a version that is much healthier for you AND much friendlier on your wallet. While this one is vegetarian, you can easily swap out the tofu with chicken, beef, shrimp, etc.
When the Hungryman and I go to eat Thai, the order is pretty much set – Pad Thai for me, Pad See Ew for him. I wish ordering was always this easy, as I’m notorious for being hopelessly indecisive in that department. I don’t do well with choices…most of the time, anyway.
However, as I’ve been expanding my horizons when it comes to Thai food, it turns out chewy rice noodles soaked in a sweet and savory sauce are not the only things I’m fond of. After discovering my love for coconut milk based curries, I’ve been throwing all kinds of ingredients in there like shrimp and mango and butternut squash to amp up the nutritional value as well as flavor. Such experimentation shall continue in the year 2015 ;).
While it’s easy and tempting to get takeout on busy or lazy days, you’d be surprised at how easily this freshly prepared and healthier version of pad see ew comes together. Once the noodles have been softened from soaking in hot water, actual cook time = 10 minutes tops. Why not take full control over the quality of the ingredients used in your meal as well as the sodium content (which is usually through the roof when it comes to takeout, especially Asian?
Before doing anything else, soak the noodles in hot water as this step is the most time consuming.
For protein, I chose to go with tofu. If you’ve been following me for a while now, you know that I don’t like to deep-fry anything at home (hence these Vietnamese Egg Rolls, Baked Avocado Egg Rolls, and Spicy Korean Baked Chicken Wings ).
To get that tofu with a crisp exterior and a moist and tender interior can be a bit challenging but is completely do-able. Have no fear! The key is to remove as much moisture as possible. And just when you think it’s dry enough, squeeze it once more. Rather than drying as a whole block of tofu, I like to slice it up to cut down the “tofu drying” time.
While you can fry the pieces in a regular skillet, I chose to go with a grill pan solely for aesthetic reasons – I heart grill marks.
Feel free to add or substitute with whatever veggies you like or have on hand – broccoli, snap peas, carrots, bell peppers, etc. While I love my leftovers, I advise you to not make a big batch of this dish as the noodles do not reheat well. And of course, you can also swap out the tofu with your choice of protein. Enjoy!
- 14 ounces firm tofu drained and cut into rectangular pieces
- salt to taste
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
- 6 ounces dried wide rice noodles
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 3 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 head baby bok choy leaves and stems separated, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce see note
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- mung bean sprouts
- peanuts or cashews
- Soak noodles in hot water for 15-20 minutes, drain, and run under cold water.
- Prepare tofu: Slice the tofu, then lay the slices out flat on a cutting board with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Press until tofu is dry to touch. Sprinkle with salt. Toss to evenly season tofu. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cornstarch over tofu, then toss to evenly coat. Continue sprinkling and tossing until all the cornstarch is used.
- Cook tofu: Heat grill pan (or skillet) over medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Add tofu and pan fry until golden brown. Set aside.
- Cook noodles: Heat a deep pan or wok over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of canola oil and saute garlic for 10 seconds, until fragrant and brown. Add bok choy and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Toss in the noodles along with soy sauce and cook until noodles are softened and have absorbed the sauce. (if noodles are taking a while to cook, add some water)
- Make a well in the middle of the noodles and add the egg. Let it fry for about a minute and when it's almost cooked, mix in with the noodles. Add sugar and mung bean sprouts. Serve with tofu and ssambal. Add more mung bean sprouts and peanuts or cashews, if desired.