I was thrilled when Stacey of Paleo Parents asked me to participate in the PF Chang Paleo Recreation Round Up. Having only been to PF Chang’s once, I perused their online menu to see what I could paleo-ize. I’ve already created quite a few Asian inspired dishes here on the blog, and they’re some of my favorites. But Pad Thai was a code I had yet to crack. So when I saw it on the PF Chang’s menu, I decided it had to be the one for the recipe round-up.
If I were to put together a list of the most misunderstood dishes (in all of my spare time), pad Thai would be on it. In restaurants, it’s often way too sweet, too sticky, too… much. The beauty of Pad Thai is in its restraint and in its contrast of flavors and textures. When I told Simon that my plan for Monday was to make paleo pad Thai, he asked it I would be making a satay sauce. I gave him my best ICan’tBelieveYou’dEvenAskThat face and explained to him that there would be no satay sauce involved. There are peanuts in traditional pad Thai, but not peanut sauce. In this variation, there are cashews, but no cashew sauce. Of course he then requested that I also make chicken satay to go with it. Sure no prob. Right after I work on that Misunderstood Dishes List.
The first feat in making a paleo version of pad Thai was the noodles. I love zucchini noodles in so many applications, but this definitely isn’t one of them. I’ve used Kelp noodles, but am never happy with how crunchy they remain, even when I cook them. Lucky for me, a gigantic Asian supermarket is a mere 20 blocks away, where there’s an entire aisle of noodles. Most of them are rice and wheat based, but I lucked out and found sweet potato vermicelli. I left with about 5 different kinds of noodles, all paleo friendly. Win.
This recipe could easily be made with leftover cooked chicken or pork instead of or in addition to the shrimp.
4 ounces sweet potato vermicelli
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
3/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon coconut vinegar
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
4 teaspoons coconut oil
1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup diced scallions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tablespoon dried shrimp (optional)
1/4 pound daikon, julienned with a julienne peeler or spiralizer
1/2 of a lime, cut into wedges
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Make sure to have all of your ingredients prepped before you start cooking, it all happens fast once you start!
- Set a medium pot of water over high heat. Once boiling, add the sweet potato noodles and boil for 5 minutes. Drain. They’ll be a bit al dente, but will soften when you finish the dish.
- Meanwhile, combine the tamarind paste and 3/4 cup boiling water in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
- In another small bowl, combine the fish sauce, palm sugar and vinegar.
- Strain the tamarind mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the sauce.
- In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 teaspoons of coconut oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the cashews and stir constantly until they’re golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove to a small bowl.
- Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in the wok or skillet and add the 2/3 of the scallions and the garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds and then add the beaten eggs. Once they start to set, stir to scramble and cook for 20-30 seconds or until cooked.
- Add the sauce, then the noodles and dried shrimp, and stir.
- Add 2/3 of the daikon, the cooked shrimp, and 2/3 of the cashews. Stir for 30 seconds to one minute, or until everything is heated through and the noodles are to your liking.
- Serve garnished with the remaining daikon, cashews, scallions, cilantro and lime wedges.
Make sure you check out all of the other great recipes in the PF Chang’s Paleo Recreation Round-Up!