Pad Thai Tofu Noodles

Pad Thai is a favorite around here. We used to order pad Thai every week when we were first married.

On one particular evening, when John was still our manager in our apartment building in downtown Portland, we ordered spicy tofu Pad Thai and Veggie Spring Rolls and ate them out of brown boxes on the floor on the top level of our building with chopsticks. We ate our food with full bellies and sniffling noses, looking out downtown through the 20-foot windows.

Luckily, I began experimenting with Pad Thai a year after we got married. This was mostly to save money and to customize it to our tastes. Since then, I’ve mastered my favorite version, which includes chicken or tofu with lots of carrots as a garnish, a lot of peanut sauce, and an absurd amount of sriracha.

John enjoys the way it’s filling and flavorful, and it has a lot of peanut sauce in every bite. It’s a good combination of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors. I also like the fact that it is healthy but tastes like it was made with a lot of sugar.

We don’t enjoy pad Thai because it takes a lot of dishes to prepare and makes my kitchen look like a mess when I’m done. This version attempts to fix that problem by requiring fewer dishes. , and also adding more vegetables into the mix.

Here is a noodle-free version of pad Thai. It is a heavily modified version, not traditional but inspired by the flavors of Pad Thai.

Origin of Pad Thai

Pad Thai is thought to have originated in Thailand during World War II. The dish was created by combining a shortage of rice and the desire of Thailand’s Prime Minister to create a national meal.

The traditional recipe includes rice noodles, egg, tofu, and dried shrimp with a sweet-sour-salty sauce. The sauce is made with palm sugar and tamarind. It can also be made using soy sauce, fish sauce, or even soy sauce.

Pad Thai without Noodles

In this pad Thai, thinly shredded carrots and zucchini are used in place of rice noodles. The marinade is a simple sweet-savory sauce that is reminiscent of traditional pad Thai. Then, I add tofu, fresh cilantro, sriracha sauce, and peanut sauce.

It takes only 20 minutes to make and does not require heat. This is perfect for summer.

If you don’t like tofu, use chicken instead or add more peanuts. If you are allergic to peanuts, substitute almond butter and toasted almonds for the peanut butter. To make it super-quick, you can omit the dressing and slather on peanut sauce. More peanut sauce is always a good idea.



  • 1 Tbsp tamarind sauce
  • Low sodium soy sauce, one tablespoon (gluten-free if needed).
  • One medium lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp Asian chili garlic sauce
  • Fresh grated Ginger*
  • 1 Tbsp maple or agave syrup (or honey, if you’re not vegan).


  • Five medium carrots, washed and sliced with a vegetable peeler.
  • One medium zucchini (washed, sliced, and ribboned using a vegetable peeler).
  • 1/4 cup firm Tofu (drained and pressed, then cubed).
  • Toppings:┬ápeanut sauce, sriracha, crushed peanuts, cilantro


  • Mix dressing ingredients and adjust seasonings by tasting.
  • Combine carrots and zucchini. Let marinade for 5 minutes. Add tofu to the marinade and mix again.
  • Divide the mixture between two plates, as written in the original recipe, and top it with peanut sauce, cilantro, sriracha, and crushed peanuts.

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