It’s no secret that I love garlic; on crackers, bread, or even when I sneak a bite from my jar of ever ready minced garlic #sorry #notsorry. And that’s exactly why I am obsessed with this easy 4 ingredient Lebanese Garlic Sauce!…
Pad Ka Prao. Say it with me folks. PAD. KA. PRAO.
When I first moved to LA, I landed in the Thai-town district of Hollywood, and I was lucky enough to have some of the nation’s best Thai food at my doorstep. That’s where I fell in love with PKP.
Crispy Tofu, bold garlic, fragrant basil leaves, and spicy Thai chilies, all coated in a quartet of sauces. Amazing. And do you know what else is amazing about Pad Ka Prao?
It’s packed with protein.
It’s vegan and keto friendly.
It can be cooked in one pot.
Another amazing thing about this dish, garlic! Everyone knows I love my pre-made garlic paste, but you’re going to need fresh garlic for this, as we want to infuse the oil with as much flavor and fragrance as we can. That’s also why you’re going to skip the food processor, if you can help it. To make the chili & garlic base of this dish, you’re going to want to use a mortar & pestle, or really fine chop your chili & garlic by knife. This will ensure that we have a nice chunky paste that will have our PKP bursting with garlic-y goodness throughout.
As far as sauces, you’re going to want to do some research here. Explore your local Asian grocery store (specifically a Thai or Vietnamese store, if you can) and check out the sauce aisles for some of these staples: Vegetarian Oyster Sauce (or sub for Mushroom sauce), Soy Sauce, Vegan Fish Sauce or Nuoc Mam Chay in Vietnamese (you can sub for Soy Sauce if you don’t have this), and Golden Mountain Sauce or Maggi Seasoning.
When it comes time for cooking, remember – this is a stir-fry! Stir-frys are high heat fast paced cooking. It’s best to have your Tofu fried and ready, all of your veggies and basil washed and chopped ahead of time, your chili & garlic paste on deck, and all of your sauces at an arm’s length. Cause’ once we start wok’n, don’t come a knock’n (?). Work with me here, people.
So do yourself a favor, and get your hands on some garlic and fresh basil, and make this awesome dish tonight.
- 3 Tbsp. Mushroom Sauce
- 1 Tbsp. Cooking Oil
- 1 Tbsp. Water
- 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbsp. Vegan Fish Sauce
- 2 tsp. Maggie Seasoning
- ⅓ cup (60 g) Fresh Garlic
- 6-8 Thai Chillies, or per your taste
- 2 cups (~35 g) Holy Basil, Thai Basil, or Sweet Basil
- 1 lb. (16 oz / 480 g) Super Firm Tofu
- ½ Red Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
- ½ Small Onion, sliced into strips
- If needed, press your tofu to drain out the excess water. Slice tofu into bite sized cubes, and pan fry (or deep fry) them until they're golden brown. Remove from oil, and set on paper to drain.
- Make a paste of chillies & garlic in a mortar & pestle, or roughly chop chillies & garlic with a knife and reserve the paste. Wash and separate basil leaves from stems and set aside to dry.
- In a pan (or the same one used to fry the tofu), add a Tbsp. of oil, and heat on medium high until it glistens. Add the chili & garlic paste and stir-fry until fragrant (about 1½ minutes), continuously stirring to prevent it from burning.
- Add in your fried tofu, onions, and peppers and toss. Add your sauces, one at a time, followed by the water. Mix well to coat.
- Cook on high heat for 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens and coats the tofu. Turn off the heat, and remove the pan from the burner.
- Once the heat is off, fold in the cleaned basil leaves, reserving some for garnish. Toss well, and let it wilt from the residual heat in the pan.
- Serve with Jasmine or Basmati rice, along with some cucumber slices and lime wedges per your taste.
*When you add the basil, it will look like there is a lot at first - but once it wilts down, it will be okay.
Guys, I love garlic. Like a lot. Like in the “I’m on the hunt for the best Garlic Ice Cream” kind of way… and the “I’ll just sneak a bite from this can of minced garlic, that’s totally normal” kind of way. It’s a serious addiction. And because of this addiction, I easily go through pounds and pounds of minced garlic every year.
But I’m also very busy, and prep time in the kitchen is valuable time away from my family. I hate the hassle of peeling and processing garlic every time I need it (which is… well, every time), and I absolutely LOATH the store-bought jarred minced garlic which is loaded with preservatives and has absolutely no flavor. That’s why I love buying my fresh garlic in bulk from Costco, which offers fresh pre-peeled premium quality garlic-y goodness in a 3 lb. bag. This is one of my favorite things, ever.
Of course even I, a mere mortal, can’t polish off a 3 lb. bag of garlic fast enough. Which is why I’m so glad that my family passed down this little Indian trick for having every ready DIY minced garlic always on hand! This garlic paste can be stored frozen and can even last in the fridge for months without losing its potency or changing color. Of course, you can’t top the punch of freshly crushed garlic, but it’s 100x more convenient to reach into the fridge and grab a jar of already crushed garlic without worrying about the peeling and the mincing by hand.
The process is super simple: buy fresh peeled garlic (or wait for a great sale, and buy garlic and peel it yourself), and toss it in a food processor with oil and salt and give it a buzz. That’s it!
The oil and salt help preserve the garlic, and you can use any oil of your choice. I choose grapeseed oil since I mostly use my garlic in stir-frys, so it’s good to consider an oil with a high smoke point. If you’d like to use olive oil, I would select a light olive oil which can withstand higher heat and has a neutral flavor (not EVOO).
Keep in mind, since the salt is essential for preserving the garlic, you may need to adjust your dish’s seasoning since you will get some saltiness from this garlic paste itself.
One thing I really love about this process is that you can mix it up any way you like. Sometimes I toss in some thai chilis to make it a one-stop powerhouse, saving me prep time down the line. And, you can actually use this method on other refrigerator staples like ginger or lemon grass.
Of course, as you grind the garlic be sure to control the fineness of your chop by experimenting with the pulse. Whenever I do this process, I like to do half of the batch as a fine paste and the other half as a rough chop (because who doesn’t love biting into a burst of garlic?).
Consider this a public service – helping the masses have garlic at an arm’s length, sleeping comfortably at night knowing that they have a year’s supply snuggly nestled at the back of their freezer. You’re welcome America.
Don’t take my word for it! Stock up on REAL garlic, and be ready to have this ever ready minced garlic become your secret weapon for all of your favorite dishes.
- 3 cups of whole garlic, peeled
- ½ cup oil of your choice, plus extra for topping
- 1 tbsp salt
- Wash and air dry your glass jars, and set them aside (wide-mouth mason jars work great for this, because they are freezer safe)
- Purchase a bulk bag of pre-peeled garlic, or purchase fresh garlic gloves and remove them from their skins. If you decide to wash them (I don't), make sure you let them dry thoroughly before processing.
- Place your peeled garlic into a food processor 3 cups at a time, and add the oil and salt before giving it a quick few pulses. Pulse depending on how fine you want it (garlic paste vs. minced garlic), scraping down the sides as you go.
- Place processed garlic in your dry jars, leaving about a half inch space to top with oil and allowing space for expansion during freezing. Place extra bottles of garlic in your freezer for later use, and enjoy immediately from the refrigerator otherwise.
As you use the garlic, add additional oil to prevent mold (just enough to cover the top). If mold does occur, it is safe to remove it with a clean spoon and top with additional oil.
PS. I told you I can eat this stuff on anything!