Thai cuisine is a blessing for vegans because it uses many herbs and spices that make the simplest recipes tasty.
However, if you have already used a Thai cookbook you have noticed that even vegetable recipes contain animal products, especially seasonings.
Here is a short guide to help you make amazing 100% vegan recipes. You'll see, it's very easy!
1st step: adapt the seasonings
Thai cuisine uses fish sauce to salt while adding flavor to dishes. Substitute soy sauce and salt. The amount of salt to use depends on the type of soy sauce, some are much saltier than others. To simplify your life, always use the same sauce, so you'll know how much salt to add to your dishes, without having to taste it a multitude of times. However, be careful not to overuse soy sauce because it gives a brown color to the food. With experience you will find the right balance between color and taste.
Many stir-fry dishes require oyster sauce. In this case use mushroom sauce, it has the same consistency as a little gelatinous, the same color and it will really add taste to your preparations. It is also called vegetarian oyster sauce.
We do not recommend any particular brands but be sure to look at the composition: some sauces contain coloring, preservatives and flavor enhancers while others are natural.
2nd step: beware of curry paste
Traditional curry pastes always contain fermented shrimp paste. This is partly because fermentation gives the famous umami flavor. It is therefore recommended to prepare your own curry paste, it will be much tastier, freshly pound, than a product sold on the market.
Instead of shrimp paste, you will use another fermented (and salted) product to recreate the taste of umami. The most natural way is to use a popular Thai ingredient, soybeans in brine also called fermented soybeans or salted soybeans. If you don't have it, you can substitute miso paste. OK, it is a Japanese ingredient and not Thai but it is a very acceptable substitute.
3rd step: Cook tofu and root vegetables
Now that you have prepared an excellent vegan curry paste, you can start making an authentic Thai curry! Do as the Thai do and use tofu and root vegetables in your kitchen.
Tofu can be used in all curries. Tofu tastes like what it is cooked with, so it will absorb the flavors of the curry sauce. Garnish with vegetables typical of Thai cuisine: bitter eggplants, snake beans, mini-corn, cherry tomatoes (depending on the type of curry prepared), don't forget the fresh herbs and enjoy your meal.
Recommended recipe : green curry tofu, chili leaves, bitter eggplants
If you don't like tofu, or if you find that you already eat a lot of it, prepare your curries with root vegetables, the type of vegetable that holds well during cooking: potatoes and carrots of course but also sweet potatoes, taro or manioc.
Recommended recipe : hungley curry, sweet potato, taro, ginger and pickled garlic
5th step: prepare tasty salads and, like the Thai, eat rice accompanied with all types of sauces!
You may have noticed that many Thai salads contain cashews or peanuts (yummy!) but also dry shrimps. Instead of simply removing the shrimps, replace them with pumpkin seeds that you have dry fried in a pan. Then prepare your salad normally with its vegan seasoning.
Recommended recipe : young mango salad, roasted coconut and peanuts
In Thailand, rice or noodles are eaten at every meal. Fried rice or Pad Thai is a one-dish meal, easy, quick to prepare and tasty. If you are new to Thai cuisine or simply running out of time, start with rice dishes and rice noodles. You will be rewarded with a delicious result!
Recommended recipe : vegan pad thai
5th step: enjoy your meal and try new recipes!
We hope that this guide will make it easier for you to access authentic, tasty and vegan Thai cuisine. In a future article we will publish a "survival guide" for vegans travelling to Thailand. Stay tuned!