When you hear the word Thai food, you must imagine meals full of spices, rich textures, and intense flavors. This richness makes Thai dishes great for those who want to be vegetarians. Add other nutritious ingredients like fresh veggies and coconut milk, and you get a complete set for a healthy eating program.
While the best Thai food contains seafood, fish, or meat, vegetarian alternatives also have great flavors. Switch your regular sandwich and pasta with easy, homemade Thai dishes.
Staple Ingredients for Cooking Thai Food
Even without animal-based protein sources, Thai staple ingredients are still rich enough for complete meals. Rice is the most important staple, appearing as grains, noodles, and edible wrapping paper. If you want to cook healthy Thai food, replace the white rice with brown or black rice.
You must also stock important liquid ingredients, like coconut milk, fish sauce (use a miso paste for the vegetarian alternative), and rice vinegar. Thai cuisine also recognizes the sharp shrimp paste, but you can replace it with tamarind paste. You should also have a spice set and chili peppers, both the red and green variants.
1. Recipe: Easy Vegetarian Green Curry
Green curry is a famous Thai dish, and you can make it quickly. This healthy vegetarian recipe uses tofu and vegetables instead of chicken or crab.
300 grams of firm tofu, drained and cut into small pieces
200 grams of asparagus (cut into small pieces)
2 cups of baby corn (cut into small pieces)
¼ cup of green curry paste
3 cups of light coconut milk (fresh or from a box)
2 tablespoons of oil
1 tablespoon of lime juice
¼ cup of basil (chopped)
¼ cup of cilantro (chopped)
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan with medium heat.
- Fry the tofu cuts lightly until golden brown. Set aside.
- Pour the remaining oil into the pan. Add the curry paste.
- Stir the paste for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir and simmer.
- Add the baby corn. Stir and simmer for 7 minutes.
- Add the asparagus. Simmer for 3 minutes.
- Add the tofu. Stir.
You can enjoy the curry just like that as a light dish or eat it with rice.
2. Recipe: Green Papaya Salad
Green papaya salad is a perfect, easy Thai food for a healthy meal. This famous salad is light and fresh, but with punchy spices to wake you up.
1 green papaya
5 cherry tomatoes
1 Thai red pepper
1 Chinese long bean (boiled)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 green onion
40 ml of lime juice
1 tablespoon of miso paste
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of chopped peanuts
½ cup of chopped cilantro
- Mix lime juice, brown sugar, miso paste, and garlic to make the dressing. Whisk and set aside.
- Cut the boiled bean into small chunks.
- Peel, seed, half, and julienne the green papaya.
- Cut tomatoes into half.
- Mix the bean, papaya, and tomatoes in a large bowl. Add the dressing and mix evenly.
- Sprinkle the chopped peanuts to serve.
Traditional green Thai salad uses crabs for the extra protein. You can replace them with fried tofu.
3. Recipe: Quick Eggplant and Tofu Stir-fry
This simple stir-fry uses red curry paste for the additional Thai flavor.
1 eggplant (cut into small pieces)
2 blocks of firm tofu (drained, cut into small cubes)
1 cup of snap peas
¼ cup of basil leaves (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (pressed, minced)
100 ml of coconut milk
40 ml of vegetable oil
4 ml of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste (vegan)
2 tablespoons of peppercorn
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
- Pour coconut milk, soy sauce, curry paste, and maple syrup into a bowl. Stir evenly.
- Fry the tofu with a little oil on a hot skillet until golden brown. Set aside.
- Add the remaining oil into the skillet. Stir garlic and ginger for 1 minute.
- Add the eggplant into the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the snap peas. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the fried tofu, coconut milk mixture, and peppercorns. Stir for about 1 minute.
- Turn off the heat. Add the fresh basil and stir for the last time.
You can eat this stir-fry with or without rice.
Tips for Vegetarian Curry
A lot of Thai foods contain curry paste, but is all of them vegetarian? Many curry paste products in the market still contain traces of fish sauce or shrimp paste. If you have a concern about the tiniest animal product traces in your low-calorie Thai recipes, look specifically for vegan labels.
You can also make simple curry paste at home. Thai red curry paste, for example, has tomato paste and soy sauce base. You can blend the base with spices like coriander, cumin seeds, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chili peppers, and lime juice.
Enjoy Healthy Thai Foods at Home!
Thai dishes have a lot of spices, but they are easy to make once you have the basics. The rich flavors are a blessing for vegetarians who love eating. Enjoy these Thai food recipes for fun, healthy eating at home.