Pad Thai is one of the best takeout dishes ever. But what about when you want to make it at home?
Sometimes tracking down palm sugar, tamarind, fish sauce and rice noodles just isn’t an option. Luckily the hacks below will help you have Pad Thai anytime, anywhere.
1. College Pad Thai
Craving your favorite noodle dish but don’t have any specialty ingredients on hand? Not to worry, pad thai is still in reach! All it takes is some crunchy peanut butter, Sriracha sauce and ramen — and maybe a squeeze of lime if you have one left over from pounding back Coronas last night.
2. Brown sugar and lime Pad Thai
Traditional pad thai gets its tangy sweetness from tamarind and palm sugar. It can be hard to find either of these ingredients in U.S. grocery stores, but a simple swap is to use brown sugar and lime juice to mimic that same balance of tart and sweet.
3. Nut-free Pad Thai
Does someone in your house have a peanut allergy? If so, you can replace the crunch of chopped peanuts in a variety of ways. Try topping your pad thai with dry-roasted chickpeas or soybeans for a nutty, textural element. If your recipe calls for peanut butter, then you can replace it with some tahini.
4. Pad Thai sandwich
Image: Kelly Pfeiffer via Fox New Magazine
No noodles? No worries! It turns out that with a little maneuvering you can make yourself a mean Pad Thai sandwich instead. It’s not quite the same, but you’ll still get all the flavors you love from the traditional dish.
5. Fig Pad Thai
Another substitute for tamarind paste? Try blending dried figs with lime juice until you have a sour-sweet paste, then dilute with a little water.
6. Soda Pad Thai
Find yourself without tamarind yet again? Look for Jarrito’s brand Tamarindo soda. You can usually find it in the Mexican aisle of the grocery store, and you can often find it at bodegas and convenience stores too. It will add a nice sweet-and-sour kick to your Pad Thai sauce.
7. Low-carb Pad Thai
If you’re craving Pad Thai but don’t want to screw up your diet by bingeing on noodles, there’s still hope! Try Shirataki noodles, made from Japanese yam starch. You can also try using cucumbers or zucchini to make your own veggie noodles.
8. Fettuccine Pad Thai
If you can’t find rice noodles at your supermarket (or are just too lazy to go shopping but want dinner, like, now), try using fettuccine or linguine instead. Both are flat like traditional rice noodles, and if you’re super hungry, you’ll barely notice the difference.
9. Ketchup Pad Thai
It’s not authentic, but you’d be surprised how many Thai restaurants use ketchup in their Pad Thai sauce. It’s salty, tangy and sweet, making it a good sub for tamarind. Haters, to the left — you just want your pad thai now!
10. Vegan Pad Thai
Pad Thai calls for fish sauce, which isn’t vegan, but you can make a passable version without it. Soy sauce, Maggi, miso, Marmite — you want something that packs a lot of umami, and these foods will do it. If you go with miso or Marmite, make sure you dilute them with some water so your sauce stays the same consistency. You might also need to rebalance the sweetness and acid in the recipe if your substitute is saltier than the fish sauce. Just taste as you go.
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