Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes of all time, in any cuisine. When I was really little, my mom would take me to her favorite Thai restaurant in West Philadelphia for lunch as a special date, just the two of us. I always ordered Shrimp Pad Thai, and I always felt super grown up. Now, it’s fun to make this Gluten Free Pad Thai with Shrimp for my own kids, who love it just as much as I do.
What’s in this Gluten Free Pad Thai with Shrimp
There are some small differences between this recipe and the traditional version of Pad Thai. The ingredient list has been modified to make it gluten free and more accessible:
- Rice Noodles – these are the traditional noodles used for Pad Thai, and they’re also naturally gluten free
- Gluten free soy sauce – easily found in most supermarkets
- Gluten free fish sauce – most fish sauce is already gluten free, just be sure to check the labels
- Chili garlic sauce
- Brown sugar – used in place of the more traditional palm sugar because it’s easier to find. You can also use coconut sugar.
- Lime juice – this is used in place of the more traditional tamarind, which is tough to find in many supermarkets
- Toppings like shredded carrots, bean sprouts, scallions and crushed peanuts
Some other mix-ins you might enjoy are scrambled egg and tofu. Some people also like to swap chicken for shrimp. It’s ok to get creative!
Pad Thai vs. Lo Mein
Although Pad Thai is arguably the most popular Thai dish outside of Thailand, it still doesn’t seem to be as well-known as Lo Mein, a Chinese noodle dish that’s basically a household name. So what’s the difference?
Pad Thai is made from rice noodles that have been pre-soaked and then cooked the rest of the way in the flavorful sauce, so the noodles absorb much more flavor. Lo Mein noodles are made from wheat and are boiled ahead of time, before they are tossed with the sauce.
Pad Thai gets its sweet-and-savory flavor from a combination of soy, fish and garlic sauces. Lo Mein’s flavor profile is more earthy, primarily made up of soy and sesame flavors.
Finally, Pad Thai noodles are flat and lighter while Lo Mein noodles are round and heartier.
Is Pad Thai Vegan?
This Gluten Free Pad Thai with Shrimp is not a vegan recipe, but here are the modifications you can make if you want a vegan meal:
- Replace the fish sauce with soy sauce
- Replace the shrimp with tofu
Look for an extra firm tofu that you can cut into cubes. Cook it thoroughly so that it gets a nice crust on it. I like to toss tofu cubes in cornstarch before frying it, which helps give it a great texture.
Sometimes cooking Asian cuisine can be intimidating, but I know you’ll feel successful when you make this Gluten Free Pad Thai with Shrimp. And when you do, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more gluten free meals, try these:
- Chicken Shawarma with Tahini Yogurt Sauce
- Miso Rice Cakes with Tuna Ponzu
- Honey Mustard Chicken with Warm Potato Arugula Salad
For more Thai-inspired recipes, try these:
Gluten Free Pad Thai with Shrimp
- 14 oz. rice noodles
- 16 jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined
- 2 cups carrots shredded with a vegetable peeler
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 2 cups scallions diced
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce
- 1/4 cup gluten free fish sauce
- 3 Tbsp. chili garlic sauce
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup lime juice
- 2 Tbsp. garlic minced
- dry roasted peanuts, crushed garnish, optional
- fresh cilantro, chopped garnish, optional
- lime slices garnish, optional
- In a saucepan, combine the lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce , fish sauce and chili garlic sauce. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Soak the noodles in hot water until pliable. Drain.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic and shrimp until the shrimp are cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove onto a separate plate.
- Add the noodles and sauce to the skillet. Cook 3 minutes until the noodles absorb most of the sauce. Add the shrimp back in and toss to coat.
- Off heat, mix in the carrots, scallions and bean sprouts. Garnish with crushed peanuts, cilantro and lime slices.