Fresh vegetables are the foundation of many traditional Thai dishes, which means healthy eaters and vegetarians alike need not worry when it comes to finding a delectable no-meat meal in the Land of Smiles and Spices.
A trip to the local fresh produce market in Thailand offers up a delightful array of fresh vegetables – many of which form the basis of some delicious culinary creations. Whether you are vegetarian or just looking to pack in your healthy five-a-day while on holiday, the range of vegetable dishes on offer in the Kingdom is vast and varied.
In fact, even if you don’t feel like a vegetable-only dish for lunch or dinner, you can generally order whatever Thai dish you prefer, but without the meat, as most of the favourite plates taste just as good with or without chicken, pork or beef.
When prepared with a host of herbs and spices, including garlic, galangal, chillies and lemongrass, the mere thought of a Thai vegetable dish straight from the wok is enough to get most mouths watering.
Below are a few of our favourite Thai veggie dishes to feast on during your next villa holiday.
What’s the Story Morning Glory?
Water spinach – more commonly known as Morning Glory in Thailand – is one of the country’s favourite vegetable staples. Pad Pak Boong
as it's called in Thai often tops the side dish list, no matter whether you are dining in one of Bangkok’s finest restaurants or at a Phuket street stall. The veggies are flash fried quickly in garlic and chilli with a dash of oyster sauce addded, so it packs a powerful punch of flavour as well as a satisfying veggie crunch.
Peace, Love and Kale
Chinese kale is a nourishing Asian leaf with crunchy, satisfying stems and glossy blue-green leaves. This tasty vegetable is a particular favourite in Chinese and Thai cuisine. Common additions to the dish include garlic, ginger and chilli, while health-conscious cooks also serve it steamed rather than fried.
Purple Dream is Green
If you thought eggplants were a delicate, cylindrical purple vegetable you commonly find in Greek dishes like moussaka, think again. In Thailand, you will find a whole range of eggplant used in local cooking. The green, round varieties are essential ingredients of a traditional Thai curry, for example. This is because when cooked in a curry sauce, the Thai eggplant softens and absorbs all of the fabulous flavours of the herbs and spices that form the base of the curry.
If you need a tangy vegetable dish to give your taste buds a re-boot, then look no further than Som Tam. The Thai green papaya salad is a delectably aromatic salad crafted from the shredded, unripe fruit. The dish is thought to have originated in Laos, but som tam is now a popular dish throughout Southeast Asia.
Lotus stems are unlike any vegetable you would expect to be served in the West. Widely used in Chinese, Indian and Thai cuisine; lotus stems are the edible part of a lotus flower. Their crunchy, slightly sweet flavour is something like that of a water chestnut. Vegetarians often enjoy lotus stems served raw in a zesty Thai salad, while foodies that enjoy meat will quickly discover that lotus roots work very well with either pork or seafood in a stir-fry.