Pad See Ew With Tofu

July 11, 2021
10 Ratings
Photo by WoonHeng Chia
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

What is your favorite Thai noodle dish? Personally, I can’t get enough when it comes to Thai food. Beyond stir-fries, there’s a long list of noodle soups that are all mouthwatering, but that will be a story for some other time. Since I’ve already shared rad na (aka rat na), a noodle dish with gravy, this time we’ll make stir-fried pad see ew. Similar to rad na, pad see ew also uses flat rice noodles, known as sen yai in Thai. Pad see ew is believed to have origins in Chinese cooking, which uses the same type of noodles, called hor fun (Cantonese) or he fen (Mandarin). Pad see ew literally translates to “stir-fry soy sauce,” so, as the name implies, Thai soy sauce is key here (I like Golden Mountain brand). For the noodles, you can start with uncut, then cut by hand into 1-inch-wide ribbons. Or you can start with pre-cut, like these from Nona Lim. (In a pinch, you can even start with dried rice noodles, such as these ones from A Taste of Thai. Before you get started, soak the noodles in very hot water for about 30 minutes, then drain and follow the recipe as written.) The noodles are quickly tossed in a sweet soy sauce mixture, your protein of choice (tofu for me), and gai lan (Chinese broccoli). I really love gai lan’s fresh taste and crunchy texture in this dish; however, if you can’t find any near you, the closest sub is broccolini. Similar to other Thai noodle dishes, a wok is highly recommended here, but a nonstick skillet will work if you don’t have one. To go with the pad see ew, I love making a simple two-ingredient condiment, inspired by Marion’s Kitchen. Simply chop 2 or 3 Thai chiles, cover in rice or distilled vinegar, and let it steep while you make this dish. It’s definitely a keeper for noodle dishes.

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon and Skimlinks Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.WoonHeng Chia

What You'll Need
  • Sauce
  • tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons thick caramel sauce (or ½ teaspoon dark soy sauce)
  • Pad See Ew
  • 1 pound fresh flat rice noodles (see Author Notes)
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as canola
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 to 2 cups roughly chopped gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
  • 4 ounces tofu, sliced, pan-fried, and salted
  • Ground white pepper
  • Pickled chiles or red pepper flakes, for serving
  1. First, prepare the sauce by combining the soy sauce, vegan fish sauce, sugar, and caramel sauce in a bowl. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Using your fingers, separate the noodles—this is crucial to ensure all the strands get coated with sauce. (If your rice noodles are stiff, place them in a microwaveable bowl, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave for about 1 minute to soften.)
  3. Heat a large wok or nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the gai lan, tofu, and 1 tablespoon of the prepared sauce. Using a pair of tongs, toss to combine.
  5. Add the noodles and remaining sauce. Toss the noodles until all of them are coated. (You may use a spatula or chopsticks to help if needed.)
  6. Spread out the noodles and let cook, untouched, to char the noodles a little, 1 to 2 minutes. This step is to give the noodles aroma and flavor.
  7. Taste and season with more soy sauce or vegan fish sauce if needed. Add a pinch of ground white pepper, then serve with pickled chiles and their vinegar or red pepper flakes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • courtrussell
  • Annie Clark
    Annie Clark
  • WoonHeng Chia
    WoonHeng Chia
  • Steven Williamson
    Steven Williamson

17 Reviews

Danielle May 8, 2024
Ok I had some revisions: changed a fraction of the Thai soy sauce to tamari because it wasn’t strong enough, used vinegar instead of fish sauce because I couldn’t find any vegan, and used regular broccoli. It was shaping up to be a major bore and I thought it was going to be a dud, but ended up being really delicious. I’d definitely make it again.
j October 11, 2022
This is horrible and lousy directions
rebecca P. January 23, 2023
It would help to have some instructions on frying the tofu. I often cut it in cubes, toss with some oil and cornstarch and the bake it as an alternative to all e sputtering associated with pan frying.
courtrussell June 20, 2021
We thought this was good, but it isn’t as sweet as the Pad-See-Ew we’re used to eating (at Penny’s Noodle Shop in Chicago), so next time I’m going to combine this recipe with another one on Food 52.
Sonny June 3, 2022
Hi, you mentioned combining recipes with another. I’m curious if you could link to the 2nd recipe. Thanks either way.
Beginner_Chef415 June 3, 2022
Which other recipe do you use?
Maryrind June 9, 2021
It looks like this recipe is marked gluten free, but soy sauce isn’t gluten free!
WoonHeng C. June 9, 2021
Hi Maryrind, thanks for pointing it out. The brand I mentioned above is gluten free which was what I used in this recipe. Please let me know if you need anything else.
WoonHeng C. June 9, 2021
Hi Maryrind, I just loaded a picture of the bottle I used in the Question section. If you can't find this brand, you can sub with gluten-free soy sauce and adjust the saltiness accordingly. Thanks and have a great day!
Maryrind June 9, 2021
That is amazing! Gluten free Asian food is so hard to come across. Thanks for the help!
txchick57 August 25, 2021
gluten free police checkingin. sheesh
Steven W. June 4, 2022
Um, it does matter to some people. No need to be snarky.
melissa C. June 4, 2022
I sub tamari for soy sauce. Most are gluten free
mynamesellen June 8, 2021
what exactly is caramel sauce?
WoonHeng C. June 8, 2021
Hi there, it's a thick version of dark soy sauce similar to kicap manis.
Candice June 29, 2021
Yes, curious to know if this is an Asian ingredient that needs to be bought or similar to a typical caramel sauce we can make at home on the stove. Thanks.
Annie C. June 8, 2021
Tofu is missing from the ingredient list. It only says "4 ounces sliced, pan-fried, and salted."