We are on a mission to recreate as many restaurant/ takeaway favourites of ours this winter! This time, we are sharing a delicious Vegan Yasai Pad Thai recipe that is both 100% plant-based and gluten-free (if you check the labels carefully). It is all about the flavour balance of the pad Thai sauce, and the contrasting textures of the noodles, vegetables and garnish!
- What Makes A Great Tofu Pad Thai?
- Recipe FAQs
- Storage & Reheating
- Other Vegan Noodle Recipes To Try
- Other Restaurant Replica Recipes
- Recipe Card
In the year 2020, we weren’t able to go out and eat out much. So we were on a mission to recreate most of our favourites at home. We love Wagamamas! My personal favourites are Itame and, of course, Vegan Pad Thai with Tofu, or as it appears on the Wagamama’s menu – Yasai Pad Thai! It’s such a good dish with a perfect balance of all the flavours and textures that go in it!
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What Makes A Great Tofu Pad Thai?
Wagamama Pad Thai wasn’t very difficult to replicate. There were three small challenges though.
Finding the right noodles to use
We used rice ribbon noodles. However, some brands were not the right texture. Some were too gloopy, mushy and stodgy and were very difficult to distribute the vegetables through. Others were very sturdy and wouldn’t absorb the sauce at all.
So after some experimenting and trying a few different brands we found that Mama Instant Noodles worked best. You can get them on Amazon or large Sainsbury’s usually stock them too. The key is not to overcook the noodles. You will stir fry them after soaking (or boiling, depending on the brand you use), so it’s important to keep them al dente to start with.
Cooking Tofu The Right Way
Making Tofu a perfect ‘crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside’ texture. There is nothing like the texture of perfectly fried tofu. Most of you have probably had a bad experience with mushy tofu that may have put you off for life.
This recipe doesn’t use any cornflour to make tofu crispy. Instead, we pressed the tofu to remove excess moisture, cut it into relatively large chunks, and then fried it on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. It takes a while to crisp up, but it works! Keep the tofu cubes quite chunky, so the inside is still soft. It’s also important not to overcrowd the pan, so the tofu doesn’t stew: simply make sure to use a large enough wok or frying pan.
Making The Perfect Vegan Pad Thai Sauce
The Amai Sauce is what makes Pad Thai a Pad Thai, isn’t it? Traditionally Pad Thai Sauce is made with Fish Sauce (which is, of course, not vegetarian or vegan). In contrast, Wagamama-style Amai sauce makes a perfect alternative to use in your Yasai Pad Thai. We used sugar, vinegar, tomato ketchup, Organic Tamari, light soy sauce and tamarind paste to create ours. (If you’re cooking for celiacs, make sure to substitute soy sauce for more tamari or coconut aminos!).
Step 1: Press The Tofu
Half an hour before you start cooking, take your tofu out of the fridge and drain it. If you want your tofu crispy, you will need to press it first. Wrap in a clean tea towel and place something heavy on top: you can use a heavy pan, a chopping board with lots of cans on top or a bunch of books. Doing this ensures all extra liquid is pressed out. If you make tofu dishes a lot, there are lots of Tofu Presses out there that you may want to invest in – saves washing the tea towels!
Step 2: Make the Vegan Amai Sauce
Start by making your Pad Thai sauce. In a small saucepan, mix malt vinegar, tamari and light soy sauce with sugar (you may replace soy sauce with more tamari if you’re looking for a gluten-free Yasai Pad Thai). Place on low heat and stir until sugar dissolves completely. Then take off the heat. Stir in the tomato ketchup and tamarind paste. Leave to cool.
Step 3: Fry the Tofu
To make crispy tofu, heat 2 tablespoon of vegetable oil (or other odourless oil) in a large wok or frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes and fry for approx 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Your tofu should be crispy on the outside and browned. Set the tofu aside for later.
Step 4: Cook The Noodles
In the meantime, prepare the noodles following the packet instructions. Most of them have instructions for making the noodles ready to stir-fry after. Otherwise, cook your noodles for 1 minute less than the stated time. It’s important not to overcook and keep the noodles slightly al-dente, as they will be stir-fried afterwards.
Step 5: Prep The Vegetables and Garnishes
Chop and slice all the ingredients for the Yasai Pad Thai and garnish, so you have everything ready.
In a large bowl, combine the leeks, red onion, spring onion, bean sprouts, garlic, ginger and prepared noodles. Mix well to distribute the veg. It’s easier to do it at this stage, rather than in a pan later on.
Step 6: Assemble It All Together
Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan or a wok. When hot, add the contents of the bowl and toss to coat in oil. Add the fried tofu and keep tossing for 2 minutes. It really helps if you have a LARGE pan or a wok!
Pour the Amai sauce all over and mix well. Then toss for another minute to warm the sauce through.
Divide this delicious Vegan Pad Thai between two bowls. Garnish with spring onion, crushed peanuts, rounds of chilli and lime wedges. Squeeze the lime over the noodles and dig in!
If you have any leftover sauce you can keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days. It’s perfect for dipping Chinese-style dumplings or spring rolls.
It absolutely can be! Choose GF rice noodles and soy sauce (tamari) and you have yourself a gluten-free meal suitable for celiacs!
Storage & Reheating
Vegan Pad Thai can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Whilst the tofu will lose its crispy exterior, it will soak up all the sauce and taste delicious!
To reheat, place the Thai noodles in a large frying pan or a wok over medium-high heat and toss for a couple of minutes until Yasai Pad Thai has fully warmed through. If your noodles are looking dry and you have some leftover Pad Thai Sauce, as a tablespoon of it as you reheat your noodles.
Other Vegan Noodle Recipes To Try
Fan of Asian-style noodles dishes? You are in the right company! Try our other Vegan Wagamama copycat recipe – Yasai Itame with Tofu! Or try some of these beautiful noodle dishes instead:
Other Restaurant Replica Recipes
If you like our Yasai Pad Thai, have a look at the other recipes we created to make delicious restaurant/ takeaway dishes:
- Crispy Tofu Kung Pao
- Vegan Pineapple Stir Fry with Curried Coconut Sauce
- Crispy Chilli Beef
- Prawn Noodles With Chilli And Garlic
Vegan Yasai Pad Thai
- 130 g dried ribbon rice noodles
- 1 small leek, approx. 130g thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion thinly sliced
- 200 g firm tofu pressed and cut into cubes
- 100 g beansprouts
- 1 spring onion sliced
- 15 g ginger grated or very finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic crushed or very finely chopped
For the Amai Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon malt vinegar
- 2½ tablespoon caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon tamari gluten-free if needed
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce gluten-free if needed
- 1½ tablespoon tomato ketchup
- 2 teaspoon tamarind paste
- ½ red chilli sliced into rounds
- 20 g roasted salted peanuts chopped finely
- 1 spring onion sliced
- ½ lime cut into wedges
To Make Amai Sauce:
- In a small saucepan, mix malt vinegar, tamari and light soy sauce with sugar. Place on low heat and stir until sugar dissolves completely. Then take off the heat.
- Stir in the tomato ketchup and tamarind paste. Then leave to cool.
For the Pad Thai:
- Heat 2 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large wok or frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes and fry for approx 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Your tofu should be crispy on the outside and browned. Then set aside.
- In the meantime, prepare the noodles following packet instructions (most of them have instructions for making the noodles ready to stir-fry) Make sure not to overcook and keep them slightly al-dente, as they will be stir-fried afterwards.
- Chop and slice all the ingredients for the Yasai Pad Thai and garnish.
- In a large bowl, combine the leeks, red onion, spring onion, bean sprouts, garlic, ginger and prepared noodles. Mix well to distribute the veg.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large frying pan or a wok. When hot, add the contents of the bowl and toss to coat in oil. Add the fried tofu and keep tossing for 2 minutes.
- Pour the Amai sauce all over and mix well. Then toss for another minute to warm through.
- Divide the Yasai Pad Thai between two bowls. Garnish with spring onion, crushed peanuts, rounds of chilli and lime wedges. Enjoy!