Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gluten-Free Pad Thai

Today is the first day of the study period for finals here at BU. Naturally, I spent a good portion of my day napping, food shopping, and making a delicious gluten-free Pad Thai. 

Before I went gluten-free, I loved Thai food. I didn't eat it very regularly but I did enjoy it immensely when I indulged. One might think that Thai food is a favorite of gluten-freeers (not sure if that's a word) but in reality, there is one main ingredient in all asian food that haunts those with a gluten or wheat intolerance. No it's not noodles or won ton wrappers, it's a lot less obvious.
Soy Sauce 
noun: A sauce made of fermented soy beans common in Asian cuisine.

Here's an interesting fact about soy sauce: there is more wheat in soy sauce than soy beans. I don't know who designed it that way but, in my opinion, it's a cruel joke.  

    Consequently my consumption of all asian food has been zero for over a year now and it's a struggle on a daily basis. Thai food is so great for a college student in Boston; it's cheap, delicious, and readily available. On my way to work or class or anywhere I walk past at least four different and equally fantastic Thai food restaurants!

Given this Thai food itch I've been dying to scratch, I have been looking for pre-made gluten-free Thai food and have come across a couple of different kinds. The ones available near me aren't bad, they're just very expensive, have all sorts of weird ingredients, and are not very kind to my belly.

This brings me back to my procrastination today. Instead of studying like I really should be doing, I went online and started checking out various different recipes for Pad Thai. Turns out it's actually very easy to make. Here is the recipe I cobbled together from a variety of sources:

Easy, Gluten-Free Pad Thai
Serves 4 for dinner or 5-6 for lunch

1 package rice sticks (6-8 oz)
2 small/medium carrots cut into matchsticks
1 small/medium onion sliced
1 pepper in slices (any color would work fine, I just like green ones)
1-2 large handfuls of pea pods with the tips chopped off
1 cup of fresh bean sprouts
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 pound of chicken chopped into bite size chunks
2-3 tbsp veggie oil

For the sauce:
4 tbsp creamy peanut butter
4 tbsp of gluten-free soy sauce
1-3 tsp of hot sauce (optional)
  • Soak the rice noodles in very warm water for 30ish minutes or until soft. Drain and keep these off to the side.
  • Mix all ingredients for the sauce until totally combined. If you like your Pad Thai really saucy increase peanut butter and soy sauce by a tablespoon each. (This mixture will be the consistency of peanut butter but don't worry because it will melt nicely later.) Keep off to the side.
  • In a wok or med/large pan (with lid preferably) heat the oil and garlic until hot.
  • Add the chicken and cook thoroughly.
  • Pull the chicken out of the pan, leaving the hot oil and garlic.
  • Add all of your veggies and cook until tender but still a little crunchy. I liked having a lid here because they kind of steamed themselves.
  • Add the chicken back in, pour the peanut butter mixture on and let melt. 
  • If you like, add the softened rice sticks in and mix to coat.
*If you like you can top with some chopped, unsalted peanuts for a nice presentation and some added crunch.

   This recipe is really adaptable depending on your preferences. I love pea pods so I used a lot of them. I also think the sprouts could be increased by at least a half cup if you are fond of sprouts. I also prefer to keep it light on the meat but you could easily add up to a pound of chicken. Or eliminate the chicken immediately and you have a great vegetarian (and maybe vegan?) meal.

Another thing to keep in mind is that gluten-free soy sauce is very pungent because it's all soy beans. Don't be alarmed when it's not what you're expecting. They also do sell a gluten-free peanut sauce but I've never tried it so I'm not sure how it would work. 

Regardless, the bottom line with this dish is that it was incredible. It was super easy and it was actually healthy. All my ingredients were organic and the sauce didn't have any funky preservative or MSG which is another common issue with asian food. After dinner I felt very content but not stuffed.  


P.S. My formatting is all screwy, resulting in those weird gaps and spaces that I did not enter. Any ideas on how to fix that?

1 comment:

  1. Lovely recipe! I have a great piece of news though- soy sauce is actually gluten-free! The fermentation process used to create soy sauce actually breaks down almost all the gluten in wheat (enough for most naturally fermented soy sauces to fall under the federally regulated 5ppm gluten). However, if you're still nervous about using soy sauce, here are a few brands you can use that aren't made with wheat to begin with: