This vegan Rad Na is one of my favorite Thai noodle dishes. It features silky homemade flat rice noodles that were pan-fried for maximum wok aroma and then drenched in a mouthwatering umami savoriness gravy.
Rad na is a popular noodle dish that you can order at many Thai restaurants. It’s typically made from flat rice noodles and served with a thick, slightly sweet gravy made from fermented bean paste (Taucu or 黄豆酱 Huáng dòu jiàng).
Unlike other Thai noodle dishes, such as pad kee mao, rad na itself is not spicy. However, it has a typical spicy accompaniment such as pickled Thai chilis.
When I first tried this noodle dish, it reminded me of wat tan hor (Cantonese-style flat rice noodles) from Malaysia. They both feature the same silky noodles and slurpable gravy, but wat tan hor is on the saltier side and usually has eggs in the gravy.
Although Rad na is often made with meat, like pork, chicken, or seafood, today, we’ll enjoy this delicious meal using tofu as the main protein.
What you Need for Vegan Rad Na
1. Noodles – I’m using this easy homemade rice noodle which yields about 1lb (~420g) of noodles enough for 2 servings. You can find fresh flat rice noodles at many Asian grocery stores, or use wide dried noodles and prepare them as directed on the package.
2. Fermented bean paste – I love taucu (fermented bean paste) in gravy. The taste is quite similar to miso but just a tad sweeter. Some taucu has a whole soybean in the paste which creates a more rustic look in the gravy. Below is the bean paste that I used in this recipe
3. Tofu – You’ll see a special way to create tofu in this dish. The first step is marinating the tofu with vegan oyster sauce, cornstarch, and white pepper, to give it maximum flavor.
Pan-frying then imparts a crisp exterior and locks in the moisture. This technique allows the tofu to absorb the broth later on—without breaking apart.
How to Make Vegan Rad Na
Step 1: Prepare the noodles
For a homemade version, please check out the steps from my Curry Chee Cheong Fun recipe where I used a quarter sheet pan to steam the noodles. Cut the prepared noodles to about 1-inch wide and place them in a bowl.
Then, add a tablespoon of dark soy sauce and rub the noodles with your fingers so they are coated evenly. This step will create evenly coated noodles when they are pan-fried in step 3.
Note: Some store-bought fresh flat rice noodles come pre-cut but often times are brittle. So, to loosen the strands, I placed them in a microwaveable-safe plate and cover the noodles with a damp paper towel. Heat it for about 1-2 minutes to soften the noodles. Then, loosen the strands before adding the dark soy sauce.
Step 2: Marinate the tofu
Here, I’m using firm tofu and find that medium-firm works just as great. Cut the tofu into thin slices and place them on a paper towel. Lightly dab the paper towel to absorb the moisture.
Then, prepare the tofu marinade and coat them in the sauce until all incorporated. Pan-fry tofu slices in a heated pan with oil until golden brown. Set aside.
Step 3: How to cook vegan Rad Na
Now, let’s put everything together!
First, mix all the noodle sauce ingredients in a bowl until well-combined. Then, heat a large wok or skillet with oil. Add the noodles and spread them to a layer to cover the bottom of the pan.
Pan-fry each side for 1-2 minutes until some of the strands turn slightly charred. Transfer the noodles to a cleaned plate.
Now, using the same wok, add a little more oil and sauté garlic until fragrant followed by the bean paste.
Pour in the veggie stock bring it to a boil. Season with the prepared noodle sauce and add in the tofu slices and cook for a minute. This will give the tofu enough time to absorb the sauce.
NOTE: I prefer to use veggie stock and not veggie broth. I also like to mix mushrooms seasoning or umami seasoning like Yondu in water to create a quick veggie stock. Normally, the veggie broth I have has a strong celery taste that will alter the taste of this dish.
Now, stir a tablespoon of cornstarch with water to make a slurry. Then, slowly stir into the mixture to thicken the sauce.
Next, add the gai lan and cook for another 45 seconds or until it’s as crisp-tender as you like.
Finally, ladle this gravy onto the cooked noodles and serve with a side of pickled chile.
Why You Need this vegan Rad Na
- It’s easily customizable and can be made gluten-free
- It’s made with a simple homemade flat rice noodles recipe
- The noodles have an amazing wok-charred flavor
- This dish is perfect for lunch or dinner
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Vegan Rad Na (Flat rice noodles in gravy)
- 1 pound fresh flat rice noodles
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil divided
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons fermented bean paste or soybean paste
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup chopped gai lan Chinese broccoli
- Pickled chiles for serving
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ tablespoon vegan oyster sauce
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ½ tablespoon water
- 4 oz firm tofu drained and thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil
- Prepare the tofu marinade by whisking 1 tablespoon cornstarch, oyster sauce, ½ tablespoon water, and white pepper in a bowl until combined. Coat the tofu slices in this marinade.
- To cook the tofu, heat a nonstick skillet and add the oil. Pan-fry the tofu slices until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, then transfer to a plate.
- Next, prepare the noodle sauce by mixing the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and white pepper in a bowl, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- Place the rice noodles in a large bowl. (If you are using store-bought fresh rice noodles, microwave them for 1 to 2 minutes to soften the strands.)
- Add the dark soy sauce to the noodles, rubbing with your fingers so the noodles are evenly coated.
- To cook the noodles, heat a large wok and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the noodles, spreading them out to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Pan-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, not stirring at all, until aromatic and slightly charred. (This step cooks the noodles and also gives them a wok-flavored smokiness.) Transfer noodles to a large plate.
- Using the same wok, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, followed by the garlic. Sauté until fragrant.
- Add the bean paste and continue to sauté for a few seconds. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Season with the prepared noodle sauce. Taste and season with salt if needed.
- Add the tofu slices to the boiling broth and cook for about 1 minute. (This step allows the tofu to absorb the broth’s great flavor.)
- Stir the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water to make a slurry. Stir this slurry into the boiling broth, then let it keep cooking until the broth turns into a thin gravy.
- Add the gai lan and cook for another 45 seconds or so, until the gailan is as crisp-tender as you like.
- Ladle this gravy onto the noodles. Serve warm with a side of pickled chiles.