Thai food has kind of come to replace Chinese as the mainstream Asian food these days, but that’s not to say it’s become any less delicious. I still love a good Pad Thai, not to mention any one of spicy Thai curries–red or green–which are laced with coconut milk and chilies, much like Sri Lankan food. Some specifically Thai tastes that I admire, however, are galangal, which is a rhizome of the ginger family; kaffir lime leaves; and of course, Thai basil; each of which impart specific flavors that define this cuisine for my tastebuds.
For my first Thai dish for Pan Asian, I wanted to step outside the box, but still do something simple and easy. So I looked in my fridge for inspiration and what I saw was a lot of vegetables. Now I’m pretty good at eating my vegetables as a side dish, but why not make them the main course, I thought. So I grabbed everything I had, went out an bought some shitake mushrooms, and made this little Thai inspired stir-fry. It’s quick, it’s simple, and the best part is that you can use whatever you have on hand. Probably the weirdest ingredient here is the fish sauce, but if you’re familiar with Thai or Vietnamese cooking, that’s one if the essential ingredients to have on hand. And remember a little goes a long way!
Thai-inspired Vegetable Stir-Fry (Pad Pak Ruam Mit)
Vegetables (or choose any that you like)
1 medium carrot, sliced
1-2 cups bok choy, cut into strips
1 red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
5-6 shitake mushrooms, sliced
3 spring onions, cut into thirds
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
2/3 cup bamboo shoots
1 thumb-sized piece galangal, sliced into match sticks
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. ginger
3-4 red or green chilies
vegetable oil (peanut)
1/3 cup stock (vegetable or chicken)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
juice if one lime
1 Tsp. honey
2 Tsp. cornstarch (dissolved in 4 Tbsp. water)
3 Tbsp. rice wine or sherry
1.) Start by making the stir-fry sauce. Place all the ingredients—except the cornstarch—in a sauce pan over medium-high heat.
2.) When the sauce begins to bubble, add some garlic and the cornstarch solution and stir about a minute until the sauce thickens.
3.) Do a taste test to balance the salty (fish sauce) with the spicy (garlic), sour (lime), and sweet (honey). Adjust the flavors to suit your taste.
4.) Return the wok to medium-high heat and add some oil. When the oil is hot add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for a minute.
5.) Add the carrots and broccoli, then the galangal and shitake mushrooms. When the wok becomes dry add 1 Tbsp. of the rice wine or dry sherry as needed.
6.) Add the remaining vegetables and about 1/3 of the sauce and continue to stir-fry over high heat moving the vegetables around in the pan.
7.) Add the remaining sauce and stir fry until all the vegetables have been coated. Adjust the seasonings again if necessary.
8.) Serve immediately with jasmine rice.