Although we’re all about celebrating Mexican food recipes, sometimes the craving for a really good Pad Thai hits and just can’t be denied. In fact, I first published this Marinated Tofu Pad Thai recipe back in 2010 and it’s been in our regular dinner rotation ever since.
If you’ve never made Pad Thai at home, this recipe is a great place to start. It has a simple citrus sauce, crunchy vegetables, chewy rice noodles–and the star—thick chunks of delicious marinated tofu.
Marinated Tofu Make All The Difference
I love tofu. I like it fried, broiled, or grilled. Heck, I even like it raw.
That being said, I understand if tofu isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you are on the fence about it, I highly suggest marinating it first. This Pad Thai tofu marinade could not be simpler. There’s only two ingredients:
- Soy Sauce. Any kind works here or if you are gluten-free, tamari sauce works too. My favorite brand of soy sauce is Pearl River Bridge Light Soy Sauce. It has a clean, crisp flavor that’s not too salty.
- Chinese Five-Spice Powder. Five-spice powder is a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns. You can make your own or buy it already blended.
That’s it! You can soak the tofu in this marinade for as little as 30 minutes or as long as 3 hours. I like to turn the block of tofu every 10 minutes to make sure it is evenly coated.
You’ve Marinated The Tofu. Now What?
Okay, so making Pad Thai can be a bit stressful if you follow many of the recipes out there.
To cook it like they do in a restaurant requires a well choreographed dance of hot wok, fast-moving chopsticks, and perfect timing of sauce meets vegetables meets noodles.
But we don’t work in restaurants and making homemade Pad Thai doesn’t have to be stressful.
The nice thing about this recipe is it breaks every part down into a single step that, in and of itself, isn’t too hard. Then you combine everything all together in the end.
Here’s the method:
- Marinate the tofu.
- Whisk together the sauce.
- Soak the noodles.
- Cook the tofu, then transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Cook the egg, then transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Cook the vegetables and combine everything in the pan to reheat.
- Serve with lots of minced peanuts and basil!
I think you will really love this Marinated Tofu Pad Thai Recipe just like it’s written, but say you want to play around a little bit or you have certain dietary restrictions. Here’s a few variations you can try:
- Gluten-Free: Use Tamari Sauce instead of Soy Sauce.
- Vegan Pad Thai: Leave out the egg and substitute vegan “fish sauce“.
- Meat Options: Use the same marinade with 1 pound of shrimp or diced, boneless chicken breast or thighs and cook like you would the tofu.
- Other Veggies: Add more or use different vegetables. This is a great recipe for cleaning out the fridge. Shredded carrots, zucchini, chopped broccoli, spinach, or bok choy would all be good.
- Nut-Free Tofu Pad Thai: Leave out the peanuts or substitute roasted, salted sunflower seeds instead.
- Make It Spicy: Add thinly sliced jalapenos or serrano chiles with the other vegetables.
Other Asian-Inspired Recipes To Try
Although Mexican recipes are more our speed we do love Asian flavors every once in a while.
I actually love how there are so many similar ingredients between Mexican and Asian cuisines. Chiles, cilantro, lime juice, onions, and garlic are in abundance in both worlds. Here are a few of our favorite Asian-inspired recipes:
- Easy Asian Pork Tenderloin
- Quinoa Fried Rice with Mushrooms and Bacon
- Five-Spiced Beef Kabobs (use up more of your Five-Spice Powder!)
Tried Our Marinade for Tofu with Pad Thai?
We’re really big fans of this Pad Thai recipe. I hope you’re as into this as much as we are—if you try it, show us your handiwork! Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram using @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno. Happy eating!
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chinese five-spice powder
- 1 pound firm tofu, drained
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (I've also used Champagne vinegar with good results)
- 1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
- 12 ounces rice stick noodles
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 8 ounces sugar snap peas, stem end removed
- 1 cup sliced scallions
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup minced roasted, salted peanuts
- lime wedges and fresh basil, for serving
- To Marinate The Tofu: Combine soy sauce and five-spice in a shallow dish wide enough to hold the block of tofu. Add tofu and marinate at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours, turning occasionally. Cut into 2-inch cubes. Save any leftover marinade.
- Make The Sauce: Combine lime juice, orange juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and chili-garlic sauce in a medium bowl. Whisk to dissolve sugar. Taste and adjust to your preferences; if you like it spicier, add more chili-garlic sauce, sweeter, more sugar, etc. But overall you should be able to taste salty, sour, sweet, and spicy in a nice balance. Add any leftover marinade from the tofu and stir to combine.
- Prepare The Noodles: Place the rice stick noodles in a large mixing bowl and cover with boiling water until pliable, but not soft enough to eat without cooking more. How long this takes will depend on how thick your noodles are. Start checking after 2 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and if you are making the noodles in advance toss with a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil, cover and refrigerate.
- Cook The Tofu: Place a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat until oil is shimmering. Add tofu (be careful it will spatter) and cook until golden brown, stirring frequently. Transfer to a plate.
- Cook the Eggs: If the pan is dry, swirl a bit more oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add beaten eggs and scramble. Remove scramble eggs to a plate. Cut eggs into strips if they are in big pieces.
- Cook The Vegetables and Noodles: Return pan to the heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Once hot, add sugar snap peas, scallions and the garlic, stir for 30 seconds. Add noodles and sauce, tofu, and eggs. Toss until all the ingredients are incorporated.
- To Serve: Remove from heat and add peanuts. Toss a couple times to combine and divide between plates. Serve with lime wedges and basil.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
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