Pad Thai with Tofu

what is tofu exactly

Pad Thai with tofu is one of my favorite dishes. In fact just the phrase tofu Thai recipe makes my mouth water! If you want to try this traditional Thai dish, it’s best to make it the authentic way.

There’s nothing worse than ordering this dish in a Westernized restaurant because you’ll get something bearing little resemblance to the traditional Thai dish which is missing all the subtle flavors it should boast.

What is Pad Thai with Tofu Anyway?

This dish is made with noodles and a savory, sweet and sour sauce. Flat, thin rice noodles are the noodle of choice and the dish also contains chopped peanuts. Scrambled egg, beansprouts, garlic chives, chicken, shrimp and/or tofu are popular additions.

Buy some pad Thai from any vendor on the street in Thailand and the first aroma to hit your nostrils is a shrimp-like/fishy one. When compared to westernized pad Thai, usually made with lime juice, sugar and soy sauce, the difference is almost total.

Tamarind pulp is another key ingredient in pad Thai with tofu. This ingredient comes in a block and is soaked in hot water before being pressed through a sieve to get tamarind puree. You can also use tamarind paste which saves time and effort.

This easy tofu pad Thai with tofu contains tofu of course. Choose firm or extra-firm, unflavored tofu. Silken or soft tofu will only disintegrate so save those for dessert or drink recipes instead.

If you want to make chicken pad Thai without tofu, there is a slightly different but still authentic recipe for pad Thai with chicken you might prefer.

I like to use peanuts for pad Thai with tofu although there are some pad Thai with peanut butter recipes. In fact, everyone who loves this dish has their own way of making it.

The following recipe is based on traditional pad Thai from Thailand, so you might find it very ‘fishy’ smelling and tasting, but that’s how it is authentically. And I, for one, love it!

Pad Thai FAQs

Does pad Thai contain tamarind?

Tamarind not only features in authentic pad Thai, but it’s one of the main ingredients. In fact this ingredient adds the sour flavor pad Thai is renowned for. A lot of SouthEast Asian recipes use tamarind.

Is tamarind sauce and paste the same?

These are usually the same thing and come in jars. The tamarind sauce or paste is smooth and thick. You can also get tamarind in block form, made from skinned whole fruits, known as tamarind pulp.

What does Pad Thai consist of?

This healthy pad Thai recipe is werll-balanced. A typical pad Thai is made up of stir-fried rice noodles, tofu, vegetables and eggs, in a tamarind, garlic, chili, and sugar sauce.

Some contain another protein, such as shrimp or chicken. Others might be tofu only or even a vegan pad Thai version. Typical pan Thai condiments include lime wedges, peanuts and red chilies.

What can you substitute tamarind with?

Fresh lime juice can be used, or you could use a mixture of sugar and vinegar. The second option is probably better for pad Thai.

What is the flavor of tamarind?

It’s hard to describe how it tastes because tamarind ranges from tart and tangy to sour and sweet, depending on the ripeness. As tamarind ripens it gets sweeter. Also, the flavor depends what it’s mixed with.

What is the difference between pad see ew and pad Thai?

Pad see ew uses wide, flat noodles, not the thin rice noodles found in pad Thai. This makes it a chewier dish. Also pad see ew is more intense and deeper in flavor.


Pad Thai with Tofu

This is an authentic recipe for pad Thai with tofu. It’s very authentic, unlike many westernized versions. This tofu pad Thai is quick and easy to make.

  • Author: Victoria Haneveer
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stir Fry
  • Cuisine: Thai


  • 5 ounces (150g) dried pad Thai rice noodles
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 3 ounces (80g) firm tofu, cut into matchsticks
  • 1¾ ounces (50g) dried shrimp
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder or cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 6 shelled, deveined large shrimp or 12 small ones
  • 1 finely sliced small red shallot or ¼ regular red onion
  • 1½ ounces (45g) finely chopped, roasted unsalted peanuts
  • ¼ cup (60ml) fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind puree/paste
  • 5 ounces (150g) beansprouts
  • 2 tablespoons garlic chives , in ¾-inch (2cm) lengths
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • Lime wedges, to serve


  1. Cover the rice noodles with lukewarm water. Don’t use boiling water else they will break up in the wok later.
  2. Let them sit for an hour then drain.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a wok then stir fry the shrimp until just pink.
  4. Remove the shrimp from the wok.
  5. Now stir fry the shallot for a couple of minutes before adding the dried shrimp, tofu, palm sugar, fish sauce, and tamarind.
  6. Cook for 1 minute.
  7. Next add the rice noodles, 2 teaspoons of chili powder and the vinegar.
  8. Cook for 2 minutes.
  9. Turn the heat right down.
  10. Push the noodle mixture aside and add 2 tablespoons of oil followed by the egg.
  11. Mix the noodles with the egg, stirring and scraping the bottom of the wok so everything mixes together.
  12. Take the wok off the heat and mix in most of the beansprouts, the shrimp, garlic chives, and half the nuts.
  13. Toss and serve sprinkled with the remaining peanuts and white sugar.
  14. Serve with lime wedges on the side.


  • The shrimp are cooked when they change from a straight shape to a C-shape. If they make an O-shape they’re overcooked.
  • Replace the shrimp with a different protein if you want. Chicken is always good in pad Thai recipes.
  • If you prefer a crispy tofu pad Thai, toss the tofu pieces in cornstarch, salt and pepper, and fry them in oil until crisp.
  • If you don’t want to use peanuts, you can sub cashews (although this isn’t authentic Thai)
  • Is pad Thai spicy? Well, it varies from restaurant to restaurant and depends how much spice the chef adds! Since you’re making this dish, you can decide how much spice to add. If you’re cooking for a crowd, make it mild or medium and offer extra chilies at the table so people can spice up their portion if they want to.

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pad thai with tofu