We had a wonderful, dreamy time, way beyond our expectation.
Until the bike accident…
This bike accident turned our active exploring vacation into a more grounded resort centered affair. Naturally, food and drinks took center stage for the rest of our trip (no complaints).
A lot has been said about the highly diverse Thai kitchen. Although it is highly regional, from island to highland cooking, the rule about Thai food is: Everyone finds something they love about it.
Vegan stir-fry 101
Our favorite Thai dish is of course the 'stir-fried anything'. It can be prepared with meat, seafood, or – Tofu, but the dish is just as good without any of them. This makes it a prime candidate for dinner whenever vegans and non-vegans are going to be around the table: In one point of the preparation, you can separate it into two pans and simultaneously make two versions.
As a vegan, this healthy dish is a joy to make over and over again, allowing you to play around with the ingredients and make it a bit different every time.
Like a faithful ally, being easy and quick to make, it will often be your first choice for best results in the shortest cooking time, and usually you can still make it with the last few remaining vegetables at the bottom of your fridge.
Stir-frying carries many nutritious values alongside with distant flavors, and is very simple to make. Most of the ingredients are readily available, fresh and healthy, and all it takes is cutting the vegetables and tossing them into the wok or frying pan. That's it, that simple.
Vegan stir-frying is made of 4 things to play with:
1. The size and shape of the rice noodles 2. The vegetables you use 3. With or without tofu or sayten 4. The sauce
Playing with these four groups of ingredients makes every dish different from the other, so I seldom make the same dish twice.
There are many noodles out there, and lots of them contain eggs, and therefore are off limits.
To keep it simple, we stick to rice noodles. But go ahead and find your favorite kind. Just make sure it's vegan, and you're ready to go.
Rice noodles come in many shapes. The most common are long and thin, but there are also long and wide, square and more. How to choose? Just try and find one or two you like the most.
All rice noodles need to be either just put in hot water or cooked in it for short periods of time. Make sure you read the how-to on the back of the package of your choice.
I always start with an onion, chopped coarsely; garlic, finely chopped, which I always add at the end (It can be replaced with ginger, but not together), zucchinis, in the julienne cut, and sliced mushrooms, usually champignon.
To these you can add artichoke bottoms (I use the frozen ones), red sweet pepper, carrot, corn (fresh is the best), fennel, celery (stems), green beans (fresh or frozen, both are great, the frozen need less time frying), eggplant, broccoli and more, it's all about what you like and what you happen to have in your fridge. You can see one of my favorite combinations in this recipe.
On the subject of hot – My love likes spicy food, so I add hot chili peppers, which end up making me sweat by the time we sit down to have dinner.
Tofu and Seitan (optional)
In the Thai kitchen, meat, seafood and Tofu are interchangeable, and Tofu is a legitimate common choice for vegans and non-vegans alike.
Tofu and Seitan are nutritious sources of protein. I add them to the dish when there is lots of sauce that can get absorb in them. For stir-frying I cut the tofu into third of an inch square pieces, and the Seitan into short strips.
Almost every sauce gets its fair dose of black pepper, paprika (our kind of chili pepper), cumin, Baharat (one of my favorite spices, a combination of two kinds of pepper, nutmeg and sometimes cinnamon), and of course – salt (coarse).
The other ingredients of the sauce are chosen by craving. To get some of them, you'll probably need to visit your nearest grocery store and hit the Asian Food shelf:
Curry paste: red, green or yellow;
Coconut milk (or liquid, it's the same, but NOT cream, which is thicker and I use for soups and deserts);
and sometimes lots and lots of tomato pulp.
For the freshest part of stir-fry, I add at the end chopped greens: Parsley, Cilantro, Mint, Basil, Tarragon, Spring onions (the green part only) in whatever combination is available. I also like the taste of a final squeeze of lime or lemon before I toss it all and serve.
Which sauce you'll love? You just have to try it and find out.
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