Vegan Thai-Style Coconut Lime Noodles with Tamari Fried Tofu
Lately dinner has been majorly on-the-fly. Between picking up side photography gigs, subbing yoga classes and playing a lot more shows with my band… dinner is often a last thought. We’ve been doing more eating out. Which, for us, means once a week. It’s a nice break from the unending sink full of dishes I create on the daily, at the very least!
My favorite take-out joints are all Thai. (Although this new place that serves giant fresh veggie bowls might change my mind). I’ve been enamored of Thai food since I was a teenager. My mom loves Thai food. And she would often make a Thai-inspired coconut soup for dinner when I was in highschool. She’s the queen of soups — they always come out heavenly, comforting and complex. And her coconut lime soup is still at the top of my list of all-time-favorite foods.
When I was still living with my parents (during college breaks) my mom and I used to make special trips to our favorite Thai spot next to the Barnes and Noble. We would order Tom Kha Kai (Tom Kha Tofu for me!). And chat on and on about life, love, religion and heart-things.
So, improvisor that I am, I decided one night last week to make my favorite coconut-lime soup into a noodle bowl. These coconut lime noodles are based on Tom Kha Kai, that Thai sweet & sour coconut-lime soup usually made with chicken, pepper, mushrooms and cilantro.
I’ve adapted it so that the soup broth is now a thick, unctuous sauce. The tofu is fried with tamari, smoked paprika and a bit of maple syrup. To make it generally accessible, I decided to use common ingredients like lemon and lime instead of more-difficult-to-find lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.
The result: creamy, tangy, savory, lightly-spicy noodles doused in a rich coconut broth and woven through with toothsome mushrooms, peppers and cilantro. Topped with browned salt-savory-sweet tamari tofu. It’s completely crave-able and satisfies major comfort food needs.
The flavor is remarkably similar to the traditional tom kha, despite being made with more common American ingredients and being completely plant based! Major win!
As you can see from the photos, I used "bluefoot" mushrooms for my bowls. They have a distinctly seafood-like flavor. I imagine it might not be appealing to all, or available to many. Go for fresh shiitake, oyster or enoki mushrooms as a substitutions.
Thai Coconut Lime Noodles with Tamari Tofu
Created by Renee on May 22, 2016
Thai inspired comfort food! Note: for best results, buy super-firm tofu. If your tofu is watery, press your tofu between two paper towels, weighting it down with a heavy pan to press the excess water out. It helps the tofu fry and crisp-up.
Thai Coconut Lime Noodles
- 8 ounces pad thai noodles
- sesame oil (or oil of your liking e.g. olive oil, coconut oil)
- 1 can full fat coconut cream, chilled
- 1 cup low sodium or homemade vegetable broth
- juice of 1 lime
- zest of 1/2 lime
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 2 inches ginger, peeled and minced
- 1/4 pound mushrooms (enoki, oyster, trumpet etc.)
- 1/2 red bell pepper (~1 cup), sliced thinly
- 1/8 teaspoon whole fennel seed, pounded roughly in a mortar
- 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (or maple syrup, brown rice syrup)
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot flour
- red chili pepper flakes, to taste
- handful fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 pound super firm tofu sliced into 1” cubes
- 2 tablespoons tamari (get gluten free certified if celiac)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon salt (more or less to-taste)
- pinch freshly ground black pepper
Thai Coconut Lime Noodles
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- Make your pad thai noodles according to package directions. Rinse your noodles under cold water to rinse off the excess starch. Toss with a drizzle of sesame oil, cover and set aside.
- Set a heavy bottomed sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the coconut cream, vegetable broth, lime juice, lime zest, lemon zest, ginger, mushrooms, pepper, smashed fennel seed, sea salt and coconut sugar. Cover and bring to a rolling boil. Once the mushrooms and pepper are tender, cut off the heat. Use a fine mesh strainer to shake the arrowroot flour into the broth, stirring the broth as you go (this method keeps the sauce from getting cooked lumps of arrowroot flour). Taste and add chili pepper flakes to amp up the heat as you like.
- Set a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once it’s nice and hot, add the tofu and coconut oil. Fry, stirring occasionally, until the tofu begins to brown. Add the tamari, garlic, lemon juice and paprika. Stir, cover and cook further until the liquid cooks off — about 5 minutes. Remove the cover and add the maple syrup, stirring frequently as the tofu will brown quickly at this point. Cook for 5-10 minutes more, or until the tofu is browned to your liking. Add salt and pepper to-taste.
- To serve, add the cooked noodles and a handful of fresh cilantro to your pot of coconut lime broth and toss everything together. Serve your coconut lime noodles topped with tamari tofu. Dig in!