I love Pad Thai but since becoming sensitive to rice it’s been off my menu. Then I discovered tamarind pods in the produce section of my local Walmart and decided to make my own rice-free, low carb version. I shelled the pods, soaked them in hot water, removed the seeds, and strained the remaining sauce to remove the fibers. It’s a little thinner than tamarind paste, but works well in Pad Thai sauce as long as I cook down the sauce.
I’ve made several batches of shrimp Pad Thai, twice with low carb tofu shirataki fettuccine style noodles and once with sweet potato “noodles.” Ribbons of carrots or zucchini are also options, though in my opinion the shirataki noodles work best because they have little flavor on their own and a texture similar to rice noodles. The best suggested way to prepare regular shirataki noodles is to drain and rinse them well in a colander, boil them in water for 2-3 minutes, drain and cook them in a hot dry pan for several minutes to remove most of the water. With the tofu shirataki noodles, I drain and rinse them well in colander under cool water and pat them dry with paper towels before adding them to my Pad Thai.
Banana flowers are a traditional vegetable in Pad Thai; artichoke hearts are a good substitution for them. I buy frozen artichoke hearts and defrost them in the refrigerator before adding them in dishes. Other options are baby bok choy or Brussel sprouts.
Pad Thai sauce has pretty simple ratios: 1 part palm sugar, 1/2 part tamarind paste, 1/4 part fish sauce, plus salt. Making it low sugar & low carb changes those ratios quite a bit, though I’ve also made it with wildflower honey rather than palm sugar & it was amazing. Coconut sugar could also be used to preserve the ratios if you’re not too concerned about carbohydrates. My recipe below uses a combination of stevia-erythritol blend, stevia extract, & molasses. The stevia-erythritol blend doesn’t dissolve as well as it should when used alone and the molasses gives it an extra depth of flavor similar to palm sugar. Be aware that tamarind reacts to metal, so use glass or plastics when storing it.
Low Sugar Pad Thai Sauce
1/2 cup tamarind paste
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup stevia-erythritol blend
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp stevia extract
1/2 tsp molasses
Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl or jar. Stir until well-combined. Unused portions can be refrigerated or frozen for later use.
Low Carb Shrimp and Vegetable Pad Thai
12-16 large raw shrimp, deveined & peeled
2 7-8oz packages of tofu shirataki noodles
2 eggs, beaten
6 oz artichoke hearts, quartered
6 oz snow peas, diced
6 oz bean sprouts
2 carrots, diced
4 green onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup low sugar Pad Thai sauce (recipe above)
2 Tbs avocado oil
1 Tbs red pepper flakes
peanuts, roasted and chopped
Marinate shrimp in avocado oil, garlic, and red chili flakes in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours. In a large sauté pan pour out the shrimp marinade and heat on medium have until the garlic is sizzling. Add shrimp in a single layer. Cook each side of the shrimp until pink and no longer translucent, about 2 minutes. Use tongs to turn and remove cooked shrimp from the pan. Set shrimp aside. Add Pad Thai sauce and carrots to the pan. Cook until the carrots are partially cooked. Drain, rinse thoroughly, and dry the tofu shirataki noodles. Add the noodles, artichoke hearts, and snow peas to the pan. Use tongs to cover the noodles in sauce and distribute the vegetables. Cook until most of the liquid is gone and the artichoke hearts and carrots are cooked through. Add the beaten eggs, toss with tongs until cooked through. Remove from heat and add green onion, bean sprouts, and shrimp. Thoroughly combine the Pad Thai with tongs. Serve with wedges of lime, chopped peanuts, and green onion as garnish. Makes approximately 4 servings.