Quinoa Pad Thai

Health fads always take the world by a storm. While some poor fellows get frowned upon, few lucky ones, like quinoa, get the crown.

Quinoa (pronounced as keen-wah) is a humble grain cultivated by the South Americans since ages and remained quite unknown. When it crossed the equator, it gained celebrity status with the revelation of its high protein content, thus bringing good news for the herbivores. From there, quinoa has become a global sensation.

When I first tried quinoa I truly hated it. But I couldn’t let the expensive bag of this over-rated seed just lie there. Then started the experiments; all had one common outcome, I still didn’t like it.

I conjured up this particular recipe plainly out of love for Thai cuisine, lack of noodles and desperation to use the quinoa as it neared its ‘best before’ date. And it finally gave me the “EUREKA” moment. YAY! I had found a way to love quinoa! In fact, I like this version more than the ‘noodle’ Pad Thai made by me.

I mostly like to keep it vegetarian and make it about the veggies. The flavour of the Pad Thai comes from the smokey sesame oil, the sweet-tangy sauce and of course the toasted peanuts. If you cannot catch hold of quinoa, just go the traditional way and use noodles or even ‘zoodles’!! So now let’s dive into the wok…

QUINOA PAD THAI

QUINOA PAD THAI

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup carrot matchsticks
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 whisked eggs (optional)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, optional
  • green beans, optional
  • Salt as per taste
  • For the sauce
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1-2 tbsp
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce (I used a vegan ‘fish’ sauce)
  • For garnish
  • Sesame seeds
  • unsalted peanuts, toasted and roughly crushed
  • Coriander leaves or Thai basil or mint.

Method

How to cook quinoa:

Wash and drain the quinoa. Add to a saucepan and cover with water or stock of choice. I always prefer using chicken stock for the extra punch of flavour. The proportion of quinoa to liquid is 1:2. However, for this recipe, I like to use one and a half cup of stock.

1 cup of uncooked quinoa will yield 2 cups of cooked quinoa.

  • Before you fire up the wok, slice and dice the veggies and keep all ingredients ready.
  • Add the sesame oil and the ginger, garlic, onions and white part of the spring onion. Fry well.
  • Season with little salt. Add the rest of the veggies and fry well.
  • Once half-cooked, push the veggies to the side and add the eggs. Work quickly to scramble them. If you wish to add cooked chicken shreds, then this is the time to do that.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together and add to the wok. Add the quinoa, bean sprouts and some peanuts and toast everything together such that the sauce coats everything well.
  • To serve: Garnish the quinoa pad Thai with herbs, toasted peanuts, sesame seeds and a wedge of lime.

Variations

  • Use any variety noodles instead and make it the traditional way.
Quinoa Pad Thai

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Vegan Soba Noodle Soup with Tofu

Till about 3 years ago, my knowledge of noodles was only restricted to Maggi Masala and Hakka noodles. It was only in this culturally diverse city of Melbourne, that I call home now, did I open my eyes and ears to an array of noodles. Melbourne houses lots of South-east Asian communities and each has its similarities and diversities. And this applies even to their cuisines.

Vegan noodle soup
Vegan Soba Noodle Soup with Tofu

When you wish to eat noodles in an Asian food joint, you will be spoilt for choice; Udon noodles or soba,  egg or rice noodles, thin vermicelli type or flat noodles (the one used in Pad Thai) or even the gluten-free variety. Like me, if you always research your menu before ordering then a Google search is your best saviour.

On one such food adventure, Mr and I came across soba noodles in a Japanese food outlet.  As most recipes contained fish, we did not finally eat there. (Mr does not tolerate fish, please remember this if you are ever calling us over for dinner!! 🙂 ) But the soba noodle stuck in my head and I wanted to try it out. These are made of a grain called Buckwheat. It isn’t related to wheat though! And hence gluten-free.

Vegan Soba Noodle Soup with Tofu
Vegan Soba Noodle Soup with Tofu

In the Asian stores, you will find a shelf-full of soba noodles; some are 100% buckwheat, whereas some are blended with wheat flour (Only pure buckwheat is gluten free. User discretion advised)

I have tried both the varieties and there is one thing in common. They do not hold up to being stir-fried. For me, it has always been a messy disaster; if you have a secret to throw light on this, please write in the comments below.

The next best thing that I could come up was SOUP! It was a vegan soba noodle soup with lots of veggies. For the protein, I have used tofu.

Vegan Soba Noodle Soup with Tofu
Vegan Soba Noodle Soup with Tofu

VEGAN SOBA NOODLE SOUP WITH TOFU

Serves : 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 bundles of soba (buckwheat) noodles
  • 200 grams firm tofu
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • A handful of baby spinach, torn
  • 1/4 cup edamame beans (I used the frozen type)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 2-3 tsp soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp hot sauce of preference
  • Salt and pepper – to taste
  • Water for boiling noodles – as per package instructions
  • Oil – 1 tbsp for sauteing tofu, 1-2 tsp for the soup, and 1/2 spoon per bowl of noodles
  • Chilli flakes for garnish (optional)

For marinating the tofu:

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp Sriracha chilli sauce or any other hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt (this is optional as we are already using soy sauce)
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

Method:

  • Preparing the tofu: When you buy tofu, it comes drowned in water. Most importantly, we need to get rid of the moisture. Only then, it will absorb the marination and get sauteed well. Be sure that you are buying the firm or extra firm tofu. Once you remove from the packaging, press it between 2 kitchen towels, place in a colander, and keep some weight over it. This will drain out the water and you will get a nice, porous tofu ready to absorb all the lovely flavours you dunk it into.
soba noodle soup with tofu
Preparing the tofu
  • Let the tofu marinate for 15-20 minutes. Then you may cube or slice it and let it cook in some oil. Let each side colour up for 5-7 minutes. Even if the outside gets crisp, the interior stays soft.

 

  • In the meanwhile, cook the noodles as per packet instructions. These noodles generally come packaged as per serving size. Take 1/2 cup from the stock and add to water to make up the quantity of liquid required. Once cooked to the given cooking time, drain and wash under cold water to arrest the cooking process.

 

  • Divide the noodles in 2 bowls and mix 1/2 tsp oil in each bowl. Coating the noodles with oil with help to keep the strands from clumping together.

 

  • In a saucepan, add the oil and saute the onion, garlic and ginger. Next add the remaining stock.
vegan soba noodle soup with tofu
simmering away
  • Season with soy sauce, hot sauce, and vinegar.

 

  • Once you see small bubbles forming at the sides, add the shredded cabbage and the spinach. I do not like cooking the veggies much as I prefer to retain their crunch and colour.

 

  • Lastly, add the edamame beans.

 

  • Check for seasonings and adjust as per taste.

 

For serving,

  • Ladle the soup over the noodles in each bowl.
  • Add a generous helping of the vegetables. Then load up the pan fried tofu.
  • In the end, garnish with some red chilli flakes and ENJOY!!

    Vegan Soba Noodle Soup with Tofu
    Vegan Soba Noodle Soup with Tofu

Variations:

  1. Substitute the above veggies or add celery, scallions, Asian greens like pak choy, or bok choy.
  2. Substitute tofu with meat of choice.
  3. Substitute vegetable stock with stock of choice or if using plain water, plop a stock cube into it.
  4. For garnish, you can add scallion, bean shoots, or coriander.

This soup is ideal on cold evenings when your soul just needs that pampering. But hey, who sticks to ideals? So go ahead and make this soup whichever day or night of the year you want to. And whenever you do, remember to drop by and leave a comment as I would love to know how this turned out for you.

Thank you!