Confession: we’ve actually never had the privilege of traveling to Thailand before (yet). However, we are in love with Thai food! Unfortunately, as vegans, lots of Thai food that we find here in restaurants is prepared traditionally with fish sauce, which we do not consume. Thankfully, we are able to find restaurants that are happy to omit the fish sauce for us, or there are some dishes that do not have it. There’s a local Thai restaurant that I enjoy visiting that has a dish called Tofu Pad Prik. Literally, “pad” means stir-fried and “prik” means spicy. In researching this dish online, many sources indicated that the recipe does not contain coconut milk; however, in my experiences with the dish that I love at my local restaurant, they do use coconut milk. So, I’m not sure if this recipe will give you a fully authentic Pad Prik, but in the literal sense, it is spicy and it is stir-fried. And it is very similar to the one that I love at my favorite Thai restaurant, which makes me very happy. I suppose you could liken this to a Tofu Coconut Curry dish, too.
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One of the very important ingredients in this dish is the type of curry paste you use, which is where the spiciness will come from. I tried to find the traditional Pad Prik curry paste, which is made by a company called Maesri. The product is called “Prik Khing Curry Paste”. I was not able to find this particular one at my local Asian grocery store; however, I was able to find a very similar product made by the same company called “Thai Green Curry Paste”.
You’ll want to use a Thai curry paste, if possible, as the ingredients reflect traditional Thai flavors, like kaffir lime, lemongrass, and ginger. Here is the ingredient list for the Maesri Green Curry Paste:
Fresh green chiles, garlic, wild ginger, shallot, lemongrass, salt, kaffir lime, sugar, galangal, spices (coriander seeds, cumin, cardamom, turmeric), pepper
You can substitute with regular curry paste of any type if you need to, or use chili flakes and some of the spices listed above. I was able to find this product easily at my local T&T Supermarket (there are several in the Toronto area). You can also purchase it online if you do a quick search.
You can use as much or as little of this paste in your recipe, depending on how spicy you like it. Silly me, I emptied half of the container into our dish and it was really spicy. A little too spicy for my liking. I recommend adding 1-2tbsp of this spicy paste, and adding more if you’re feeling adventurous.
The recipe turned out fantastic (albeit a little on the spicy side) and tasted just like the one from my local restaurant! For the vegetables, I used Chinese long beans (you can substitute green beans if you can’t find those), red and yellow pepper, and bamboo shoots. I fried up some tofu, and served everything on top of a bed of Jasmine brown rice.
Vegan Thai Tofu Pad Prik with Vegetables
1 package extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into triangles
bunch of Chinese long beans, trimmed and cut
1 can bamboo shoots, rinsed
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
6 kaffir lime leaves, chopped into small pieces
1 bunch Thai basil leaves
1-2 tbsp Maesri Green Curry Paste
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
Jasmine brown or white rice, cooked
Heat olive oil in a pan. Fry the tofu until browned on each side. Remove the tofu from the pan. Using the same pan, add the curry paste for 30 seconds so it starts to break down a bit. Then, add the coconut, soy sauce and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Add the tofu back into the pan along with the rest of the vegetables. Cook for 8-10 minutes until well heated through. Place the tofu-vegetable-sauce mixture over top of the rice and serve.