I’ve been making this cabbage pad Thai-ish in some form or another since the late fall, when I spotted the recipe in Andie Mitchell’s Eating in the Middle, and the contents of my CSA miraculously included all of the key ingredients: cabbage, peppers, cilantro, and onions.
With peppers now out of season, I’ve been using shiitake mushrooms, whose meaty texture and woodsy flavor nicely complement the cabbage, and I imagine a number of other vegetables—julienned carrots, shredded Brussels sprouts or broccoli, for example—could also be used. In place of the traditional scrambled egg, the texture of which I never seem to get right, I’ve been baking cubes of tofu, dressed simply with soy sauce and oil, and folding those in at the end.
Two notes: There are no noodles! And no tamarind! So no, this is not authentic pad Thai. Here, sugar and lime juice in the stir-fry sauce stand in for tamarind, whose fruity, tart flavor lends that sweet-and-sourness characteristic of traditional pad Thai. This dish comes together quickly, and while the vegetables and seasonings may be unorthodox, the combination is tasty and satisfying.
PS: Other favorite cabbage recipes.
Adapted from Andie Mitchell’s Eating in the Middle
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil, divided
- 1 14-oz block extra-firm tofu, patted dry, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup thinly sliced onion (1 small onion)
- 7 to 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher salt
- 5 cups thinly sliced cabbage (about half a small head)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped peanuts
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Whisk together 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl. Add tofu cubes and gently toss to coat. Let cubes marinate while oven preheats—at least 5 minutes. Lightly rub a rimmed sheetpan with neutral oil. Place tofu cubes on pan, discarding the remaining marinade. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce with the lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup water. Stir together and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat. Add the onions, mushrooms and jalapeño. Turn heat down to medium. Let cook undisturbed for 1 minute, then stir every so often until onions and mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt and cook for 30 seconds more. Transfer vegetables to a plate. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add cabbage and let cook undisturbed for 1 minutes, then stir every so often until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes more.
- Turn the heat to high, add the soy sauce mixture, stir to combine, bring the mixture to a boil, and cook until the cabbage is coated in a thick, glossy sauce. Stir in the onions and mushrooms. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the fresh cilantro and baked tofu. Sprinkle the peanuts over top and serve.