Thursday, 19 March 2015

Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking

Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking
by Nancie McDermott

Paperback, 208 pages

I absolutely love Thai food. It has dynamic flavours and presents well for guests. It is also delicious eaten cold from the fridge the next day. Not that I do that...

Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking offers 125 healthy, vegetarian Thai recipes to wow your taste buds and your friends. Over 100 of the recipes are vegan, and the others are easily adapted for vegan diets.

Most of us are vegetarian at least one day of the week now, and this book is a great way to expand your repertoire of veggie dishes. Thai food definitely favours veggies!

There is a section for suggested recipes for different occasions, and a full glossary of ingredients - plus a resource section for finding items online.

So liven up your Meatless Mondays. Give vegetarian Thai a try. And invite me - I'll bring the wine.

Contents Include:
Appetizers and Snacks
Stir-Fries and Other Main Dishes
Rice and Noodles 
Sweets and Drinks
Basic Recipes

Tome Yum Soup with Mushrooms and Tofu

This classic soup is a one-bowl celebration of Thailand’s sparkling cuisine. Spicy hot with Roasted Chile Paste and sharply fragrant with lemongrass, wild lime leaves and a squeeze of lime, tome yum sounds an inviting reveille to your senses. Entice your guests with a glance at its gorgeous flame-colored broth studded with brilliant green herbs and then treat them to a whiff of its exotic citrus perfume as you serve it up Thai style, along with other dishes and a plate of jasmine rice.


4 cups    vegetable stock, store-bought    1 L    
3    large stalks lemongrass    3
12    wild lime leaves, divided, optional    12
21⁄2 tbsp    freshly squeezed lime juice    37 mL
3    green onions, cut crosswise    3
    into 1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths   
1    fresh green jalapeño    1
8 oz    firm tofu, cut into 1-inch    250 g
    (2.5 cm) chunks   
1 cup    well-drained, canned whole    250 mL
    straw mushrooms or sliced
    fresh button mushrooms   
2 tbsp    chile paste, store-bought    30 mL   
2 tsp    granulated sugar    10 mL
1⁄2 tsp    soy sauce    2 mL
1⁄2 tsp    salt    2 mL

1.    In a large saucepan, bring vegetable stock to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, trim lemongrass stalks: Cut away and discard any hard, dried root portions, leaving a smooth, flat base just below the bulb. Trim away the tops, including any dried brown leaf portions (you should have handsome stalks about 6 inches/15 cm long, including the bulbous base). Using the blunt edge of a cleaver blade or heavy knife or the side of an unopened can, bruise each stalk, whacking it firmly at 2-inch (5 cm) intervals and rolling over to bruise on all sides. Cut into 2-inch (5 cm) lengths.

2.    When stock is boiling, add bruised lemongrass stalks and half of the lime leaves, if using, and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until stock is fragrant and lemongrass has faded from bright green to a dull khaki, about 5 minutes.

3.    While soup simmers, in a serving bowl large enough to accommodate the soup, combine lime juice, remaining lime leaves and green onions. Remove stem from jalapeño and cut crosswise into 1⁄4-inch (0.5 cm) thick rounds. Add 2 or more of the rounds to the serving bowl (the amount depends on your love of chile heat). Reserve any leftover chile for another use.

4.    Scoop out lemongrass from stock and discard. Increase heat to high and add tofu, mushrooms, chile paste, sugar, soy sauce and salt and stir well. When soup boils again, remove from heat and quickly pour into serving bowl. Stir to combine lime juice and herbs with the soup and serve at once.

This soup should be intensely and wonderfully sour, salty and spicy hot. If you like, check the seasoning just before serving and fine-tune it to your liking with a little more lime juice, chile paste, sugar and/or salt.

Courtesy of Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking by Nancie McDermott, 2015 © Reprinted with publisher permission.

Mee Grop

In this spectacular dish, wiry rice noodles are deep-fried to a light, crisp tangle and tossed in a piquant chile sauce. The resulting dish is unique in its juxtaposition of textures and in its classic Thai explosions of flavor. Served at room temperature, it makes a grand centerpiece for a celebration meal. Thais prepare it in large quantities for the feasts that accompany weddings, Buddhist ordinations or welcoming a baby to the world.


•    Candy/deep-fry thermometer
•    Large long-handled Asian wire strainer
•    2 long-handled metal slotted spoons
•    Large tray or 2 baking sheets, lined with paper towels

8 oz    wire-thin dried rice noodles     250 g
    Vegetable oil
4 oz    firm tofu, cut into slender    125 g
    1-inch (2.5 cm) long rods  
1⁄4 cup    finely chopped garlic, divided    60 mL
8 oz    fresh button mushrooms,    250 g
    thinly sliced  
11⁄4 tsp salt, divided    6 mL
2 tbsp    coarsely chopped shallots    30 mL
1⁄2 cup    vegetable stock, store-bought    125 mL   
2 tbsp    distilled white vinegar    30 mL
1 tbsp    Asian bean sauce    15 mL
1⁄2 tsp    soy sauce    2 mL
1 tsp    hot pepper flakes    5 mL
1⁄2 cup    palm sugar or brown sugar    125 mL
1⁄4 cup    granulated sugar    60 mL
1⁄4 cup    tamarind liquid     60 mL
    (1/2 cup tamarind pulp, 1 cup water
    run through sieve until water is
    consistency of light whipped cream)
2 tbsp    freshly squeezed lime juice    30 mL
1    bunch fresh garlic chives    1
    or 9 green onions, cut into
    1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths  
1 cup    coarsely chopped fresh cilantro    250 mL

3 cups    bean sprouts    750 mL
5    heads Thai pickled garlic, cut    5
    crosswise into 1⁄4-inch (0.5 cm)
    thick rounds, or 24 cloves
    pickled garlic
1    red bell pepper, cut into long    1
    thin strips  
    Handful of cilantro leaves

1.    Gently pull noodles apart, breaking into small handfuls about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long. Set aside in a heap (see Tip, left). Place prepared baking sheets near stove to hold the fried noodles. Have handy a large serving platter or large deep bowl and 2 long-handled spoons or pasta forks for tossing the puffed noodles with the sauce.

2.    Pour oil into a wok or large deep skillet to a depth of about 3 inches (7.5 cm). Place over medium heat and heat to 325° to 350°F (160° to 180°C). Drop a piece of rice noodle into pan. If it sinks and then floats and puffs immediately, the oil is ready.

3.    Drop a small handful of noodles into oil. Turn once and remove as soon as they swell and turn a very faint golden brown. This takes only seconds. Using the wire strainer, scoop out puffed noodles, holding them over the pan briefly to drain. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all noodles are cooked.

4.    In same hot oil, cook tofu, in small batches, turning to cook evenly, until crispy and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove as quickly as you did the noodles, draining briefly. Then transfer to prepared baking sheet and let cool.

5.    In a medium skillet, heat 2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable over medium heat until a bit of garlic added to the pan sizzles at once. Add half of the garlic and toss until fragrant and shiny, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook, tossing occasionally, for 1 minute. Add 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) of the salt, toss well, and then cook, tossing often, until mushrooms are softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the plate and set aside.

6.    Add 2 tbsp (30 mL) more oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat until a bit of garlic added to the pan sizzles at once. Add remaining garlic and shallots and cook, tossing often, until shiny and tender, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 tsp (5 mL) of salt, vegetable stock, vinegar, bean sauce, soy sauce, pepper flakes, palm and granulated sugars and tamarind and bring to a gentle boil. Stir to dissolve the sugars, mixing well. Reduce heat to medium and cook gently until sauce is a thin, shiny syrup, 5 to 7 minutes.

7.    Add lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning for a pleasing balance of sweet, salty and sour flavors.

8.    Transfer sauce to a large bowl, add noodles and mushrooms and toss gently, thoroughly, and patiently to coax apart the clumps, distributing sauce and coating noodles evenly. Add garlic chives or green onion and cilantro and toss again to mix well.

9.    Mound noodles on the serving platter. Arrange bean sprouts attractively on the plate. Garnish with pickled garlic, red pepper strips and cilantro leaves. Serve at room temperature.

You can purchase Thai pickled garlic in Asian markets. What you buy will be petite whole heads, with papery sheaths still in place, packed in their brine. These should be drained and then sliced crosswise into 1⁄4-inch (0.5 cm) thick rounds that display a pleasing mosaic of round cloves clustered into a large circle. These delicate slices are placed decoratively on the mountain of noodles just before serving.

Courtesy of Simply Vegetarian Thai Cooking by Nancie McDermott, 2015 © Reprinted with publisher permission.