This Thai glass noodle stir-fry is one of our favorite recipes to enjoy at home. Easy to make with simple ingredients, Pad Woon Sen is the perfect dish to cook when you are busy but still want something umami-packed and delicious for dinner. Our Pad Woon Sen is vegan, as we use tofu as the main protein.
What is Pad Woon Sen
Pad Woon Sen is a Thai noodle dish made with bean thread noodles, as well known as cellophane noodles.
This noodle dish combines stir-fried crunchy vegetables, protein (meat, fish, egg, or tofu), and a rich and umami-packed stir-fry sauce.
The noodles used for this recipe are nice and chewy, being really similar to the noodles used to make Japchae. Mung bean noodles are made with the start of mung beans, as well called Cellophane noodles.
Our Glass Noodle Stir-fry is totally vegan as we use tofu as the main protein and vegan oyster sauce to make a delicious stir-fry sauce.
Difference between Pad Woon Sen, Pad Thai, and Pad See Ew
Pad Woon Sen, Pad Thai, and Pad See Ew and all stir-fried Thai noodle dishes with similar ingredients and cooking method. Their main difference is the type of noodles and sauce used to cook these very popular Asian dishes.
Pad Woon Sen. This recipe is made with mung bean noodles and the sauce is savory and rich containing oyster sauce and dark soy sauce.
Pad Thai. Pad Thai is made with flat rice noodles and the sauce is sweeter containing tamarind.
Pad See Ew. This last dish combines the sauce used to make Pad Woon Sen with flat rice noodles.
Our Pad Woon Sen recipe is:
- Thai-inspired dish
- Noodle stir fry
- Easy to make
- Packed with crunchy vegetables
- Mildly spicy
How to make the best Vegan Pad Woon Sen
Noodles. The first ingredient you need to get to make the perfect glass noodle stir-fry is the right type of noodle. The noodles used for this dish is cellophane noodles, as well called bean thread noodles or mung bean noodles. You can find them online or in an Asian markets or supermarkets. Rice vermicelli noodles are similar when dry but you can tell the difference after soaking them. They don't get as chewy and are not the right type of noodles for this stir-fry dish.
Plant-based protein. Our recipe is vegan, as we use tofu to make our Pad Woon Sen. We pan fry the tofu separately so it gets nice and crunchy before adding it to the Pad Woon Sen. You can as well use an air fryer to cook it (it takes around 12 minutes at 180C). Other plant-based proteins you can use are seitan or tempeh. For a vegetarian recipe, you can add scrambled eggs.
Vegetables. You can add any vegetable of your choice to this dish, but our favorite combination to give your noodle dish the perfect balance of textures and flavors is garlic, ginger, onion, napa cabbage, red bell peppers, carrots, tomato, shiitake mushrooms, and scallions or spring onion.
Pad Woon Sen Sauce. Our Pad Woon Sen sauce is umami-rich combining vegan oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, vegetable stock, brown sugar, and white pepper. It is really similar to the sauce we use to make our Vegan Chop Suey. Originally, this recipe contains fish sauce, but our Pad Woon Sen is vegan. You can though, make your own vegan fish sauce if you want to add extra flavor!
Toppings. Our Pad Woon Sen is served with fresh chopped cilantro, lime juice, and chili flakes to add a little bit of heat.
- Soak the noodles in hot water for about 3-4 minutes or room temperature water for 15 minutes. Don't worry if they are still a bit al dente, they will finish cooking in the wok or pan. Drain the glass noodles and reserve.
- Prepare the stir-fry sauce. Using a small bowl, combine the vegan oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, vegetable stock, sugar, and white pepper. Mix well all the sauce ingredients and reserve.
- Fry the tofu. We pan-fry the tofu but you can bake or air-fry the tofu pieces as well. To air fry the tofu, cook for about 12 minutes at 180C. Remember to keep moving the tofu pieces while air frying so they cook evenly.
- Stir fry the vegetables. For this recipe, we use our wok but you can use a big pan as well. Finely chop or grate the garlic and ginger, cut the onion, napa cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and green onion into thin slices, and quarter the tomato. Heat some coconut or olive oil in your pan or wok to medium-high heat and stir fry the vegetables, reserving the spring onions for later. Keep stirring to make sure they are cooking evenly. You want the veggies to be cooked but keep a bit of a crunch.
- Add the noodles, stir-fry sauce, pan-fried tofu, and spring onions. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add chopped cilantro, optionally some chili flakes or hot sauce, and drizzle some lime juice.
This glass noodle stir-fry is normally served as a main dish as it has everything you need. When we make this Thai recipe, we like to cook some Rice Paper Rolls or Veggie Spring rolls as appetizers.
If you enjoy spicy food, we strongly recommend adding some chili sauce such as sriracha, chili flakes, or spicy oil.
You can keep any leftovers in the fridge in an air-tight container for 2-3 days. To reheat, add some oil to a pan or wok and add the leftovers. Stir until warm and serve.
Variations to our Pad Woon Sen recipe
Make it low carb. You can make this recipe using zucchini noodles. Live eat learn has a great post about how to make the perfect zucchini noodles.
Make it vegetarian. You can add one or two eggs at the end. Push all the veggies and noodles to one side of the pan or wok and break the eggs on the other side. Stir the eggs, cook for 1 minute and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
Change the veggies. We made this recipe with our favorite combination of vegetables for stir fries but you can add more or a few veggies to your taste. Great alternatives are green beans, zucchini, baby corn, or bamboo shoots.
Make it spicy. If you enjoy spicy food, add some chili sauce such as sriracha, chili flakes, or spicy oil before serving.
FAQ & Tips
- Is Pad Woon Sen gluten-free? Normally, Pad Woon Sen will contain gluten because of the sauce. You can use tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), white pepper, sugar, and stock to make a gluten-free sauce.
- Is Pad Woon Sen traditionally vegan? No, Pad Woon Sen is normally made with chicken, pork, or seafood. Our Pad Woon Sen recipe is a vegan version using tofu as protein, vegetables and vegan oyster sauce.
- Can I make Pad Woon Sen using different noodles? You can use rice vermicelli noodles but they won't be as chewy as mung bean noodles. Sweet potato noodles, used to cook Korean Japchae, are another great option when making Pad Woon Sen as they have a really similar texture and cooking process to bean thread noodles.
- To make it easier when mixing the noodles with the rest of the ingredients, you can cut the noodles into smaller pieces.
- What can you use if you don't have Vegan Oyster Sauce? This may be a bit difficult to get but if you have an Asian supermarket nearby, they will most likely have a vegetarian oyster sauce made with mushrooms or you can find it online. You can use mushroom powder as well or simply skip this ingredient.
Pad Woon Sen (Glass Noodle Stir Fry)
- 150 g bean thread noodles glass noodles
- 400 g tofu
- ½ white onion
- 1 thumb-size ginger piece
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ red bell pepper
- 150 g napa cabbage
- 6 shiitake mushrooms
- 2 carrots
- 3 Scallions
- ½ tomato
- A handful fresh cilantro
- 1 lime
Savory Stir-fry Sauce
- 2 tablespoon vegan oyster sauce
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- ¼ stock cube
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- Soak the noodles in hot water for about 3-4 minutes. Don't worry if they are still a bit al dente, they will finish cooking in the wok or pan. Drain and reserve.
- Prepare the stir-fry sauce by combining the vegan oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, stock, water, white pepper, and sugar. Mix well until all the ingredients are combined and reserve.
- Cut the tofu into cubes. Add some vegetable oil to a pan and pan-fry the tofu. Keep turning the tofu cubes until they are evenly cooked on all sides.
- Finely chop or grate the garlic and ginger.
- Cut the onion, napa cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and scallions into thin slices, and quarter the tomato.
- Heat some vegetable oil in a pan or wok to medium-high heat and stir-fry the vegetables, reserving the spring onions for later. Keep stirring to make sure they are cooking evenly. You want the veggies to be cooked while keeping a bit of a crunch.
- Add the noodles to the pan or wok, the stir-fry sauce, pan-fried tofu, and spring onions. Stir and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add chopped cilantro, optionally some chili flakes or hot sauce, and drizzle some lime juice.
- Serve and enjoy.
|If you tried our recipe, please leave a comment or tag us on Instagram. We are always happy to see your creations!|
could you also eat this cold? (take it for lunch, no microwave, just straight from lunch box)
Hello Kaitlin, absolutely. Best thing about glass noodles is that they are perfect served warm or cold.
Kaitlin Slover says
amazing!! thank you!
Pad woon sen is my favorite dish to order when we eat out at Thai restaurants. I loved that your version has more flavor than the ones I've had here in my Texas city. I'll be opting for this instead of going out for it.
Thank you Marta!
Thanks for a reminder to this delicious Glass Noodle recipe. Yummy and perfect for Dinner any day. Vegan and combination of Tofu sounds interesting.
I love the crunchy vegetables and soft tofu with the noodles and savory sauce makes this a dish that hits all the dinnertime cravings.
Megan Ellam says
So easy and packed with flavour. Definitely recommend
Delish, I tend to like my Tofu sliced thin and fried a bit crispy, then tossed this recipe together, move over take out, this is a winner!
This is my go to dinner when I want quick and easy! I change up the veggies depending on what I have and it always comes out perfect!
I had some tofu to use up, and this was perfect! Love the napa cabbage in there, too. I'll be making this again for sure!
Lauren Michael Harris says
This was such a fun recipe to make and definitely something a little different for. my family to try. It was a hit! Everyone loved this stir fry!
I love love love this recipe. I've made it twice since I have found it and is always a hit including my 5 year old daughter. Making it again tonight. For my family and some guests.
This came out fantastic. My first glass noodles stir fry attempt was a great hit. Thank you for a great recipe. I will make it again.