Who doesn’t love a good pad thai?!
I for one am a HUGE fan of Thai food, but since completing a sugar detox last year I’m much more aware of the added sugar in food and sadly, Thai food is loaded with it!
So, in my quest to create healthier versions of my favourites, I created this raw kelp noodle and cashew pad thai. It’s obviously not exactly the same as the original, being raw and all, but it has all the traditional flavours used in thai cooking, minus the sugar.
How can this possibly taste any good you may ask? The secret is some clever ingredient combining.
The sauce is made from soaked (aka activated) cashew nuts, coconut milk, fresh ginger, chilli, turmeric and lemon or lime. These flavours combine to create a sweet, slightly spicy sauce that’s reminiscent of a fragrant thai curry.
I chose kelp noodles for this salad because they have a very neutral flavour, are grain free and very low in carbohydrates (aka sugar). According to the packet they’re made from kelp (a sea vegetable), sodium alginate (from brown seaweed) and water, and are a rich source of iodine. The main brand available seems to be Sea Tangle which I’m not entirely convinced are completely raw (as the packaging states) given they look nothing like sea kelp. I suspect they’re mostly comprised of water, but their crunchy texture works well in this pad thai and you can find them at any wholefoods store or online from places like iherb.
For anyone looking for noodle alternatives, there’s another type of kelp noodle called Sea Spaghetti by Pacific Harvest. These noodles actually look like seaweed and have a mild salty flavour. While I have yet to try them I think they would work well in this recipe too. Equally, if you’re not too fussed about finding a kelp noodle then you could simply use glass noodles (aka bean thread noodles) or rice noodles.
There’s a healthy amount of kale or cavolo nero (the super hero of greens!) in this raw pad thai to ensure there’s a generous serving of green nutrient goodness. The secret to making it taste good raw is a few minutes of massaging with a little of olive oil. This process wilts it’s tough cellulose structure, giving it a soft, silky texture and mellows it’s bitter flavour to reveal a sweeter side that’s normally only accessible through long cooking. This only takes a few minutes but makes a huge difference to the texture and taste.
This raw pad thai is dairy, gluten and grain free, paleo, vegetarian and vegan. Most notably though, it’s completely sugar free yet definitely not lacking in sweet fragrant thai flavour. Enjoy!
Raw Kelp Noodle and Cashew Pad Thai
Prep time: 30 minute Soak time: 2-4 hours
1 packet kelp noodles (or glass noodles)
6 kale or cavolo nero leaves
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large carrots
2 handfuls fresh bean sprouts
1 handful fresh coriander
1 handful fresh basil
1 handful fresh mint
1 cup cashews (to toast)
For the thai sauce:
1 cup cashews (to soak)
2 cups coconut milk
2 tsp turmeric
2-4 red chillies, finely chopped (depending on heat/your taste)
10cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
2 lemons, juiced (or 4 limes if available)
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
Prep ahead by placing 1 cup of cashews into a bowl and cover with filtered water. Leave to soak for 2 to 4 hours at room temperature then drain and rinse well. The soaked cashews can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days at this stage until you’re ready to use them.
To make the sauce, place all the sauce ingredients including the soaked cashews into a high speed blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning, and if necessary add a little more salt or lemon juice according to your tastes. This sauce is ready to use immediately or can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 2 days. Note, once cashews are soaked they generally last up to 4 days total when refrigerated.
To toast the cashews for the pad thai, preheat the oven to 160ºC. Place 1 cup of cashews on a lined oven tray into the centre of the oven for approximately 10 minutes. You’re aiming for the cashews to be lightly toasted. Alternatively, if you want to create an entirely raw pad thai, soaked these cashews for 2-4 hours, then either place in a dehydrator at 46ºC for 2 days or in the oven on the lowest setting with the door slightly ajar. They’re ready when completely dried through and crisp (aka dried activated cashews).
To make the pad thai salad, open the kelp noodles and rinse as per packet instructions. These should be ready to use, so place in a large bowl and set aside. If using glass (bean thread) noodles, soak as per packet instructions.
Prep the kale or cavolo nero by washing, draining well and removing the tough central stems. Place the leaves in a small bowl with the olive oil and use your hands to massage it into the leaves until they become dark, shiny and soft. This improves the texture and flavour of the kale by breaking down it’s tough cellulose structure. Slice or tear the kale leaves into bite sized strips and add to the kelp noodles.
Prep the carrots by washing and or peeling, and chopping into very fine strips. Rinse and drain the bean sprouts and add both to the salad.
Rinse and drain the herbs and rather than chop them, which results in the mint and basil discolouring, tear them into smaller pieces and add to the salad.
Lastly, add the toasted or dehydrated cashews to the salad along with the sauce. Toss well to ensure evenly combined. Pile into serving dishes and sprinkle with a few fresh herb leaves.
Once combined, this raw pad thai will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge in a sealed container.