Vegan Pad See Ew
This vegan pad see ew is a plant-based version of the Thai favourite! Rice noodles, vegetables, and chewy tofu are tossed with a sweet, savoury, and slightly tangy sauce for a restaurant-style meal at home.
Going to a Thai restaurant is a tricky proposition for vegans. Even the menu items that look vegan often have shrimp paste or oyster sauce or some other hidden non-vegan ingredient in them. Luckily, you can make a lot of your favourite Thai dishes at home and then there’s no doubt that they’re plant-based!
I’ve shared Vegan Pad Thai, Quick and Easy Thai Green Curry, and Thai Peanut Sauce in the past, and today I’m sharing another classic Thai dish: pad see ew. Or, vegan pad see ew, to be exact. This is a dish that’s a staple in Thai restaurants (although you might also see it labeled as pad siew or phat see-ew), and it’s a little bit like pad Thai, with a more savoury flavour to it.
This vegan pad see ew pairs rice noodles with a salty, soy-based sauce, chewy pan-fried tofu, broccoli, mushrooms, and plenty of garlic. It’s all stir-fried together until the flavours meld, then you garnish it with your choice of toppings—crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, green onions, or whatever else you like on your pad see ew!
Notes on Ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
- Soy sauce – Tamari, liquid aminos, or coconut aminos can all be used instead.
- Sesame oil
- Chili oil
- Peanut oil – Or another high-heat cooking oil.
- Extra-firm tofu – Press the tofu to get the excess liquid out. Learn more: How To Cook Tofu 101 + Best Tips on Making the Most Delicious Tofu
- Coconut sugar – Dark brown sugar works too.
Vegan pad see ew sauce:
- Vegan “oyster” sauce
- Soy sauce – Again, tamari, liquid aminos, or coconut aminos can be substituted.
- Rice wine vinegar – Cooking sake is a good alternative.
- Coconut sugar
- Ground white pepper – White pepper has a very different flavour profile compared to black pepper. I don’t recommend substituting it!
- Corn starch – To thicken the sauce.
- Pad Thai rice noodles – Traditionally, pad see ew is made with thick, flat rice noodles, but these aren’t as widely available as pad Thai noodles, so that’s what I’ve used here.
- Sesame oil
- Peanut oil
- Garlic – You can substitute 3 teaspoons of garlic powder, but fresh garlic is best.
- Ginger – 1 teaspoon of ground ginger works too.
- Dried red chilis – Red pepper flakes are a good substitute; you can also omit this for a milder pad see ew.
- Broccoli florets
- Button mushrooms – Or simply use white mushrooms.
- Crushed peanuts – To crush the peanuts, place them in a zip-top bag and whack them a few times with a rolling pin.
- Green onions – For garnish.
- Black and white sesame seeds – Also for garnish.
What Is Vegan Oyster Sauce?
Vegan “oyster” sauce is a plant-based alternative to traditional oyster sauce, which is made from oysters. Vegan oyster sauce has a similar savoury, slightly sweet flavor without the use of animal products; the exact ingredients vary from one brand to the next, with some containing oyster mushrooms or shiitakes, while others are soy-based or flavoured with mushroom extracts.
You can buy vegan oyster sauce or make it yourself. If you’re in a pinch, you can substitute soy sauce with enough coconut or brown sugar to make it sweet.
How to Make Vegan Pad See Ew
If you want to get a head start on making your vegan pad see ew, you can make the noodles, sauce, or tofu (or all three!) in advance so they’re ready to go when you’re about to start cooking.
Cook the noodles. Boil the noodles in a large pot set over medium heat, according to the package instructions. Drain and toss the noodles in sesame oil to keep them from sticking.
Marinate the tofu. Whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili oil in a small bowl. Arrange the tofu in an even layer in a shallow baking dish or container. Pour the sauce over the top; chill for at least one hour.
Cook the tofu. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet or wok set over medium heat. Carefully place the tofu in the hot oil; reserve the marinade and sprinkle half of the coconut sugar over the tofu. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bottoms are just beginning to brown. Flip the tofu and sprinkle with the remaining sugar; cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the tofu one last time and cook for another minute to caramelize the sugar, then pour in the leftover marinade (if any). Cook the tofu for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sauce is absorbed. Remove from heat.
Make the sauce. Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until well-combined.
Cook the aromatics. Warm the peanut oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and dried chilis. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
Add the vegetables. Stir the broccoli into the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp. Add the mushrooms and stir; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.
Add the noodles. Transfer the noodles to the pan with the sauce. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
Serve. Remove the pan from the heat. Serve vegan pad see ew warm, topped with the pan-fried tofu, crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, and green onions.
Tips for Success
Here are a few additional pointers for perfect vegan pad see ew.
- Keep the noodles from sticking. Once you add the noodles, stir often to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Use a non-stick pan if you have one.
- Don’t overcook the noodles. They should still have a slight bite when finished boiling because they’ll continue cooking once you add them to the pan with the sauce.
- Use fresh garlic and ginger. This will give you the most authentic flavour.
Like most stir-fried noodle dishes, vegan pad see ew is easy to customize to your own tastes and preferences. As long as you keep the proportions more-or-less the same, feel free to make simple ingredient swaps. Here’s some inspiration:
- Use frozen veggies. No prep needed! Plus, frozen broccoli will cook up softer than fresh if you prefer less of a crunchy-crisp texture.
- Add tempeh. Cut it into cubes and use that instead of tofu.
- Try different vegetables. Bok choy, baby corn, bell peppers, or whatever you happen to have on hand in the refrigerator.
How to Store Leftovers
Leftover vegan pad see ew can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stovetop with a splash of soy sauce or vegetable broth until warmed through, or just heat it up in the microwave.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
You can freeze leftover vegan pad see ew for up to 3 months, but note that the texture may change; the noodles are likely to break apart after freezing, thawing, and reheating. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then heat according to the instructions above.
Enjoy friends! If you make this vegan pad see ew, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
Vegan Pad See Ew
For the tofu:
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon chili oil
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 12 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into ½" slices
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
For the sauce:
- 4 tablespoons vegan “oyster” sauce
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoon coconut sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon corn starch
For the noodles:
- Water, for boiling
- 3.5 ounces pad Thai rice noodles
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
- 3 dried red chilis, whole
- 1 ½ cups broccoli florets
- 2 ½ cups button mushrooms, cut into ¼" slices
- Crushed peanuts, for garnish
- Chopped green onions, for garnish
- Black and white sesame seeds, for garnish
- Cook the noodles. Fill a large pot with water. Heat it over medium heat. Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Strain them and gently toss them in sesame oil. Set them aside.
- Marinate the tofu. Whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili oil in a small bowl until well combined. Place the tofu in a container, trying not to overlap the slices too much. Pour in the soy sauce mixture. Spoon excess sauce over the tofu. Refrigerate it for at least 1 hour.
- Cook the tofu. Heat the peanut oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the tofu slices and reserve the marinade. Sprinkle half of the coconut sugar over the tofu. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes or until slightly browned. Carefully flip over the tofu and sprinkle with the remaining coconut sugar. Cook it for another 2-3 minutes. Flip it over one last time and cook it for another minute to caramelize the sugar. Add the leftover marinade (if any). Cook the tofu for another 2-3 minutes or until most of the sauce is absorbed. Remove it from the heat and set it aside.
- Make the sauce. Whisk the vegan "oyster" sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, coconut sugar, ground white pepper, and corn starch until well combined. Set it aside.
- Cook the garlic. Add the peanut oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and dried chilis. Stir well and let them cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Add the veggies. Toss the broccoli into the pan. Stir fry it, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until crisp. Add the mushrooms and mix everything together. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened.
- Add the noodles. Transfer the noodles into the pan. Pour in the prepared sauce and stir gently to combine. Cook the noodles for another 6-8 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
- Serve. Remove them from the heat. Serve warm and top them with tofu, crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, and green onions.
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