Main dish

Pad Thai with Salt and Pepper Tofu recipe

Jump to recipe

A basic Pad Thai recipe served with roasted tofu and finished with lime and toasted peanuts. I use a bag of prepared stir-fry vegetables for convenience.

  • Prep15m
  • Cook20m
  • Total35m


My Ikea OUMBÄRLIG wok eventually peeled, as most non-stick does. I've now got an uncoated carbon steel wok from John Lewis. It needs to be seasoned after each use but should last a lifetime.

I’ve been cooking Pad Thai regularly over the last few months to try to pin down a version that’s similar to the delicious restaurant Pad Thais I’ve eaten where the noodles are al dente and the sauce is sweet, salty and sour.

While I’ve found that wok-ready udon noodles are pleasantly firm, the same can’t be said for wok-ready rice noodles. No matter how quickly I stir fry, they always end up soft and squidgy. After a lot of experimenting and eating my way through many under and overcooked noodles, this is what I’ve settled on:

  • Add 110g of dried 5mm rice sticks to a large bowl that will fit approximately 2 litres of water.
  • Add salt.
  • Fill the kettle with 1.7 litres of water (or whatever the maximum is that your kettle will hold) then pour the boiled water over the noodles and set a timer for 8 minutes, stirring the noodles every minute or so.
  • When the timer goes off, taste a noodle and if it hasn't quite softened, leave for another minute or two. At this stage the noodles might seem undercooked but bear in mind that they’ll get cooked again in the wok. When you're happy with the texture, drain then rinse thoroughly with cold water.

For the sauce I use tamarind paste, sugar and fish sauce. Two tablespoons seems like a lot of fish sauce but the sugar takes away the fishiness and tamarind adds the much needed sour tang. I’ve tried decreasing the sugar and I wouldn’t recommend it.

To me, the noodles and sauce are the foundation of a good Pad Thai and whatever else I add depends on what’s in my fridge. My current favourite protein is tofu coated in salt, pepper and cornflour then roasted until it’s crisp and chewy. The tofu can be cooked in a wok but I find it easier to let the oven do the work while I get on with the sauce and veg.

This is a recipe that I can just about manage during the week. I use a bag of prepared stir-fry vegetables but if I have more time I’ll add beaten eggs, maybe some king prawns, sliced spring onions, mange tout, broccoli or chopped coriander. Regardless of whether I make the quick or long version, the dish is always finished with lime and toasted peanuts.

★ ★ ★

As a side note, I just bought a new wok from Ikea (OUMBÄRLIG) and I’m really pleased with it. I had been using a large, deep Le Creuset frying pan, which isn't ideal for stir-frying. It takes ages to heat up and retains heat so any food left in it continues to cook. The Ikea wok is incredibly light, big enough at 32cm (although I wish they’d do a larger version, say 36cm) and pretty cheap at £22. I’d been eyeing up the 36cm Ken Hom wok but was put off by my mum and other reviewers finding that the non-stick coating eventually bubbles and peels. I’ll report back on how Oumbärlig is holding up but the reviews on the Ikea website seem promising (see update: I've now switched to a carbon steel wok).


Replace the fish sauce with soy sauce to make this dish vegan.


Pad Thai with Salt and Pepper Tofu

  • Prep15m
  • Cook20m
  • Total35m
Serves: 2



  • 1 block firm tofu (I use a 280g block of Tofoo)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • salt and pepper
  • flavourless oil (I use light olive or vegetable oil)

Pad Thai sauce

  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp sugar (I use golden caster sugar)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce


  • 110g dried rice noodles
  • 1 bag mixed vegetables (I use a 320g bag of beansprouts, cabbage and carrots)
  • Small handful toasted, crushed peanuts
  • 1 lime


  1. Tofu: Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Drizzle the paper with a little flavourless oil.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of cornflour, ¼ teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper into a medium sized bowl and mix well.
  3. Cut 1 block of tofu into 2cm cubes, add it to the cornflour and mix until the tofu is completely coated. 
  4. Spread the tofu cubes over the prepared baking tray, drizzle with a little more oil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Set to one side.
  5. Noodles: Fill and boil the kettle with as much water as the kettle will hold.
  6. Add 110g dried rice noodles and a good pinch of salt to a bowl that will fit 2 litres of water. Pour the boiled water over the noodles and set a timer for 8 minutes.
  7. Once the timer sounds, drain the noodles, rinse them well with cold water and set to one side.
  8. Sauce: Combine 1 teaspoon of tamarind paste, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of fish sauce in a small bowl and mix well. Taste to check that the salt, sweet and sour flavours are balanced.
  9. Stir-fry: Place a wok over a medium heat and add a good drizzle of oil
  10. Add the vegetables and stir-fry for a couple of minutes then add the noodles. After another minute add the sauce to the wok and keep stirring until the vegetables and noodles are coated.
  11. When the noodles are cooked through but still have bite, add the tofu cubes to the wok, squeeze over the juice of ½ a lime then transfer to 2 bowls.
  12. Top with a small handful of toasted, crushed peanuts and add a lime wedge to each bowl.

Newsletter coming soon

Add yourself to the list and as soon as it's ready we'll let you know.