This is Aaron's recipe, which is a more or less vegetarianified version of Kasma Loha-unchit's recipe. If you want a real vegetarian version, look up recipes for vegan fish sauce and give it a go.
As written, this serves 3-4 people. If you double it, definitely cook in batches no bigger than this recipe (depending on the size of your wok, you might need several batches anyway).
- Dried rice noodles (something around 1cm wide or so)
- 3 Tbs. or so fish sauce (or more to taste)
- 3-4 Tbs dried tamarind (or more to taste)
- 2 Tbs. palm sugar (or more to taste). If you can't find palm sugar, use something dark with a more complex flavor than white sugar.
- 3-4 Tbs. peanut oil (or coconut oil. or canola if you don't have either of those.)
- 1 1/4 cup firm tofu cut into little strips like you get in pad thai
- 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 3 little (or 1 big) shallots, sliced thin
- 1/3 cup chopped sweetened salted radish (you can find this at most large Asian grocery stores with a decent selection of thai ingredients, although we had a hard time getting it at Uwajimaya once...)
- 2-3 tsp. (or to taste) dried red chilis, ground
- 3 eggs
- 2-3 cups fresh bean sprouts
- (optional) 1 cup garlic chives, cut into 1 1/2-inch segments
- 2/3 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
- 1 lime, cut into small wedges
- cilantro sprigs
- 4 green onions, chopped into little rounds
- Soak the noodles in cold tap water for at least 30 minutes (up to an hour or so) before cooking.
- Mix the dried tamarind with some hot water (probably about 1/3-1/2 cup) to soften. After a little while, use your hand to mix/squish the fruit off the fibrous bits and seeds. Once everything is well-incorporated and about the texture of concentrated fruit juice, squeeze the extra liquid out of the fibrous bits and pits. Congrats, you have tamarind concentrate!
- Mix your tamarind concentrate with the fish sauce and sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, taste this mixture. You want a well-balanced flavor where the tartness of the tamarind leads and is supported by the salty-sweet-umami of the other ingredients. Adjust accordingly.
- Once you've got everything else chopped, you're ready to go!
Note: everything in a wok should be cooked at very high heat and moved/stirred frequently.
- Heat a wok until the surface begins to smoke a bit. Add about half of the oil and swirl it around.
- Stir fry the tofu in the oil until it begins to turn golden brown. Add about half of the remaining oil.
- Add the shallots and swirl things around for a few seconds.
- Add the garlic and swirl things around for a few more seconds.
- Add the radish and chilis, swirl things around some more.
- Add the noodles and toss everything together. Keep stirring until the noodles start to change texture and soften.
- Push the mass of noodles and stuff up along the sides of the wok. Add the remaining oil to the middle of the wok and crack the eggs into this area. Break the yolks and let them set a bit. Once they're set, flip them and use your wok spatula to start shredding them a little. At this point, you can also start incorporating the noodles into the eggs too. This can result in some nice egg-coated noodle bites.
- Add most of the tamarind-sugar-fish sauce mixture. Stir well.
- Test the texture of the noodles. If they're too tough, add a tiny bit of water and keep stirring.
- Test the flavor and re-balance as necessary with extra fish sauce, chili, or granulated sugar (and/or tamarind mixture if you have some left over).
- Once the noodles are cooked and the flavors seem good, toss in the bean sprouts, optional garlic chives, and some of the chopped peanuts. When the vegetables start to wilt, you're ready!
- Transfer everything to a serving dish and add the remaining garnish. Serve hot with lime wedges, fish sauce additional ground chili, and granulated sugar. If you have some good sriracha (shark brand is best!) that goes well too.