I didn’t learn to eat with chopsticks until 10th grade. I ate plenty of Asian food before then, but it was usually takeout eaten at home with forks and spoons. If I did use the chopsticks, it was to poke a dumpling from the side and cautiously try to dip it into duck sauce without it falling off.
But then, in 10th grade, a magical thing happened: A Panda Express opened up in the Comm. Ave cafeteria where I ate lunch. I could have Panda Express Every. Day. Let’s ignore how unhealthy that must have been for me—their orange chicken was sensational. It was great enough to motivate me to learn to use chopsticks.
This is one skill I hold dear to my heart. While I don’t always post it, I love working with Asian ingredients to make flavorful, often unphotogenic meals. You can’t go wrong if you keep adding soy sauce, vinegar, and honey with a little spice. My favorite dish is Pad Thai, but like orange chicken, the original is probably not something you should eat every day. But now you can.
This recipe uses vegetables in place of the noodles to cut down on refined grains and carbs and boost the vegetable servings. Trust me when I say you won’t miss them. The sauce has an extra protein punch from peanut flour, which is higher in protein and lower in fat than peanut butter, which also works well in this recipe in a pinch. I use eggs which are my favorite protein to make this a filling meal but you can swap in cubed tofu to make this a vegan dish. The result is filling and just as delicious as the original. If you don’t know how to use chopsticks yet, let this be a reason to learn.
Protein-Packed Mock Thai
Ingredients(Makes 2 small portions or 1 large):
1 zucchini, peeled into shreds
1 carrot, peeled into shreds
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup partially defatted peanut flour*
- 2 Tablespoons tamarind paste**
1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce(or wheat-free tamari)
1/2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
~2 Tablespoons water to thin
*If unavailable, swap for 2 tablespoons peanut butter and omit the water.
**This is the signature flavor of Pad Thai. The best substitute is brown sugar, though the flavor won’t be as complex.
Heat a pan to medium and add in the zucchini and carrot noodles and bean sprouts. Sauté for a few minutes until cooked and softened.
Crack in the eggs and toss the vegetables with them. Continue sautéing until the eggs have completely cooked.
Turn off the heat, pour in the sauce, and toss it together with the noodles until completely mixed. Scoop into bowls for serving.
Garnish with salted peanuts and Thai basil leaves.
What’s your favorite dish to order at a Chinese/Japanese/Thai restaurant?