Photo: Sylvia Tan
You can recognise mushrooms, pumpkin, bell peppers, beans in these dishes, but they taste full-bodied and flavourful, thanks to the Thai herbs and spices found in the recipes. There are chillies, of course, but also lots of fresh herbs, each delivering their unique aroma to the dish. So there’s plenty of fresh basil, coriander, kaffir lime and lemongrass.
All vegetarian, the dishes are still inimitably Thai, even if there is no shrimp paste nor fish sauce in the pot. Thai vegetarians rely on salt and light soy sauce to season their food with lots of spices for which the cuisine is famed.
The dishes are themselves unusual: the soup uses coconut water as a base, the salad showcases fresh shitake mushrooms and the green curry has sweet and mellow pumpkin in the pot. And while I do not include any soya products in these recipes, there’s nothing to prevent you from adding these vegetable proteins to the recipes. I would add soft tofu to the soup, sliced fried tofu puffs to the salad and soya bean cake to the curry to give more body to the bite.
A colourful vegetarian pot of creamy goodness brimming with sweet pumpkin and crunchy long beans
No mealy-mouthed mushrooms in this healthy Asian salad with chilli-spiked dressing
A flavourful, tangy and light broth made with the water of the young (green) coconut that cools, too
Sylvia Tan is a cookbook author with nine cookbooks to her name. Her latest, ‘Asian Larder’, is a compendium of Asian spices and seasonings, with more than 100 recipes on how to use these ingredients.