Cabbage Pad Thai with Baked Tofu

December  5, 2016
9 Ratings
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
  • Serves 2 to 3
Author Notes

Adapted from Andie Mitchell's Eating in the Middle, this one combines two loves: Thai food and cabbage.

A few notes on changes from the original recipe: I've added a tablespoon of lime juice to the sauce and I use water as opposed to stock, so feel free to use stock if you have some on hand.

The original recipe calls for scrambling a few eggs at the very end. I've been baking cubes of tofu and folding those cubes into the cabbage at the end (this is how the recipe below is written), but scrambling a few eggs is nice, too—it's also faster. Just know that you can add whatever protein (or none at all) to this that you like. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kawanna Bright
    Kawanna Bright
  • susan g
    susan g
  • AntoniaJames
  • Molly Juhlin
    Molly Juhlin
  • Laura Cassato Roe
    Laura Cassato Roe
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

45 Reviews

Linda D. July 20, 2023
Made it again last night, Alexandra. Delicious even though I didn't have any limes on hand. Thanks!
Kawanna B. May 5, 2021
Tried this tonight as I'm trying to learn to love cabbage. Had to swap out some things due to my lack of items in the fridge (including Worcestershire sauce instead of fish sauce, lemon instead of lime juice, and no mushrooms) but it still turned out great! Thank you for giving me something similar to pad thai without the noodles. And I loved this as an option for using up my tofu - I buy it and then I sit and wonder why I bought it! I'll make this again, given I still have a 1/2 head of cabbage - but I'll pick up mushrooms and lime first!
Doc's M. August 9, 2020
The tofu alone was delish right out of the oven. Had to keep myself from scarfing it down without adding it to the dish! It was really a good dish, but as another reviewer mentioned, it seems a bit heavy on the fish sauce. Now, granted, the fish sauce I'm using doesn't have any writing on the label that I can read and it came from an Asian market. So, it may be more concentrated that some others. I would definitely make this again and try adjusting it. I also completely brain farted and forgot to buy the mushrooms. Oops. All in all, it was tasty and satisfying.
maclover May 23, 2020
Didn't have tofu on hand, so I just made the cabbage pad thai part of this recipe and substituted a couple of scrambled eggs. So tasty and surprisingly filling! Can't wait to try it with other vegetables and protein options next time.
Linda D. April 9, 2019
Thank you so much, Alexandra. This was so delicious. The baked tofu was a crunchy, wonderful surprise. I served this dish with basmati rice on the side.
Lauren May 30, 2018
This was really yummy! The tofu was especially great and is totally foolproof. This felt more like a great cabbage-y stir-fry than pad thai per se, but it was still really good. I mixed in soba noodles at the end to bulk up the servings and veganized it by omitting the fish sauce and adding hatcho miso, hoisin, and vegan Worchestershire sauce for extra umami. Topped with cilantro, basil, mango, peanuts, and extra lime!
susan G. May 4, 2018
Number of servings often puzzles me... 2 -3 for 14 or so oz. of tofu is protein overload. I'm trying this soon, and I'll see how it goes with 1/2 the amount of tofu, and follow AJ's husband on the broccoli suggestion -- or other veggies. And the boiling water tip.
AntoniaJames January 22, 2018
This one's a keeper. I used Savoy cabbage, and probably will again. My husband suggested that it would be even better were some broccoli included, so I'll be doing that, too.
I find that extra firm tofu can be unpleasantly tough and lacks the flavor of the softer kinds, so I used regular firm, and it worked great. I recently discovered Andrea Nguyen's tip, in her banh mi cookbook, to pour boiling water over tofu in a bowl, letting it sit for 15 minutes before using, to firm it up. I tried that last night, cooking the tofu cubes without even pressing them dry, in a non-stick skillet with just a touch of sesame oil, and over medium low heat, just leaving the cubes alone for a good long while. The edges crisped up beautifully. You could actually see the moisture from the cubes evaporating, due to the change in structure caused by the boiling water soak. You get a lovely custardy, flavorful interior. I'll be using that method the next time I make this.
Also, one final note: we used the juice of a whole lime -- about 3 tablespoons -- because the cooked cabbage and onions were quite sweet. ;o)
Alexandra S. January 30, 2018
AJ — this is so interesting and not intuitive at all... I would have thought that pouring boiling water over tofu would soften it. I'm so intrigued! Totally agree about extra-firm and yet I buy it anyway bc it's easier to work with. Definitely going to try out this method. And yes to more lime!
Molly J. November 1, 2017
This was delicious! Thank you, thank you! I was drowning in cabbage thanks to my CSA.
Alexandra S. November 1, 2017
Yay Molly! And drowning in cabbage is right. I just made an enormous pot of cabbage soup, which last for days, and I still have two heads of green cabbage and 1 head of purple cabbage in my fridge. Thankfully it lasts for days. xo
Alexandra S. November 1, 2017
and by days I mean weeks/months ... my brain
Laura C. August 2, 2017
I finally tried this and it was delicious! I'll definitely be making it again, possibly just using a whole big head of cabbage since I love it and it wasn't as prominent as I'd expected. But a really great recipe, and hit a great balance of healthy and satisfying.
Isabel June 25, 2017
Just tried this recipe for the first time and it won't be the last...it was really, really nice. The only change I made was I fried (with grape seed oil) the tofu but the rest of the fixing up was done by the book...or should I say the recipe. Thank you for giving us such a tasty meal!
Alexandra S. June 25, 2017
Yay, so happy to hear this!!
Cheryl March 27, 2017
Delicious! My guest thought this dish was in the top 10! Followed this closely, except I sprinkled cilantro over the individual dishes rather than the whole warm pan full. I also reduced brown sugar to 2 tsp, as I have eliminated sugar from my diet, but made an exception here.
Alexandra S. March 27, 2017
Wonderful to hear this!
Cheryl June 7, 2018
Next time: make a double batch and add in more cabbage! Yum!
Änneken March 12, 2017
This was blissfully easy to make and yielded great flavor!
Alexandra S. March 12, 2017
So happy to hear this!
Kelsey B. February 28, 2017
Anyone know if tempeh would work in place of tofu? Would that change marination at all?
carebear4890 January 19, 2017
I made this last night for dinner, it was AMAZING! Thanks so much for the recipe! I swapped Worcestershire sauce for the fish sauce and it was delicious. If you want a truly vegetarian dish, I do suggest checking your Worcestershire sauce, as many contain anchovy.
Alexandra S. January 19, 2017
So great to hear this!! And yes, you are right re Worcestershire — I confess to only just learning that Worcestershire contains anchovy. Thanks for writing in!
mer January 18, 2017
This was dinner tonight and it was delicious! I used tofu and one egg. My fish sauce must be more potent than yours because I started with one Tablespoon (1/2 the recipe) and any more than that would have been overpowering. Next time I'll put even a little less. An extra squeeze of lime at the end helped balance the fish sauce though and this dish was devoured by two very delighted adults. This is another of your recipes that is going to be enjoyed repeatedly in our household....and so easy to make too. THanks Alexandra for another delicious recipe for my repertoire. :-)
Alexandra S. January 19, 2017
So happy to hear this, Mer! Glad the lime was able to correct the potency of the fish sauce — it definitely can be overpowering. I've been buying the Red Boat fish sauce, which I can find at my Trader Joe's. Thanks for writing in!
Hina January 14, 2017
Made this with eggs instead of tofu and we really enjoyed it. I used honey instead of brown sugar. The flavors were not as strong as restaurant pad thai but in a good way. Definitely a keeper!
Alexandra S. January 15, 2017
So happy to hear this, Hina! Glad the eggs worked out for you.
Hina January 12, 2017
Do you have any recommendations for what could be substituted for the tofu?
Alexandra S. January 13, 2017
Hi Hina, You could simply leave it out, and you could scramble a few eggs at the end and fold those in, which is how the original recipe was written. Are you looking for other vegetarian sources of protein or would meat be fine? Shrimp would be delicious as would chicken.
Hina January 13, 2017
Thanks so much for the good suggestions! I enjoy your posted recipes!
Dana December 22, 2016
This is a versatile recipe that can be easily tweaked to fit any preference. I used extra tamari in place of fish sauce, maple syrup in place of brown sugar and served with some buckwheat ramen noodles that have been hanging around patiently in my pantry. Delicious and the cabbage provides a nice satisfying crunch.
Alexandra S. December 22, 2016
So happy to hear this, Dana!
Lisa December 20, 2016
Made this and doubled amount tofu, just because I like it. Served with jasmine rice. So yummy.
Many of this author's recipes are excellent and totally reproducible. I am a fan.
Alexandra S. December 20, 2016
So happy to hear this, Lisa!