Thai cuisine is known for its vast array of meaty delights, from your typical chicken breast to the shocking (to some) frog leg. The common dishes on the menu usually look like a bundle of spice-soaked pieces of meat. Understandably, more than once we’ve heard foreigners confess that despite their Thai food craze, they miss their daily dose of greens. But worry not. Whether you’re a vegetarian or simply a plant-based foodie, check out these 7 savory Thai stir fry dishes that are meat-free and will also leave you craving for more.
Before jumping to the list, here are some survival Thai words that will definitely smooth out your vegetarian gustatory journey. Pad means stir fry. Pak means vegetables. Fai Dang is literally red fire, indicating the high heat used to keep the crispness of the cooked greens.
Pad Pak Boong Fai Dang (Stir-Fried Morning Glory)
This long crispy green is usually fried with high heat (Fai Dang) and seasoned with standard Thai condiments. Salted soy beans and oyster sauce are the two most popular seasonings used to both enhance the taste and alter the dish profile.
Pad Kana (Stir-Fried Chinese Kale)
Generally known for its contribution to the divine ‘Kana Moo Grob’ (Stir-Fried Chinese Kale with Crispy Pork), the Chinese kale is just as good on its own. Slice some fresh bird’s eye chilies into this Thai stir fry to spice it up.
Pad Broccoli (Stir-Fried Broccoli)
Season your broccoli with soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce and even a pinch of sugar. We promise you that the result won’t taste the same as at home. And we mean it in a good way.
Pad Pak Kra Ched Fai Dang (Stir-Fried Water Mimosa)
Water mimosa grows out from the bank in the water, hence the name. The plant closes its leaves at night, earning it the nickname ‘Puk Roo Norn’ (literally the vegetable that knows how to sleep). Pak Kra Ched is Morning Glory’s close friend in terms of crispiness, although slightly chewier.
Pad Pak Ruam Mit (Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables)
This colorful Thai stir fry is a feast for both the eye and the tongue. It sees an eclectic mix of carrot, Chinese kale, baby corn, sweet pea, broccoli, tomato, and sometimes potato seasoned with the classic Thai seasonings.
Pad Yod Fug Maew (Stir-Fried Chayote Leaves)
The dish is a food version of the girl next door. It looks fresh, verdant, tasty but so ordinary. Don’t judge this stir fry by its look, though. Give it a bite and you’ll be very likely to get hooked on the perfect blend of chewiness and crispiness.
Ka Lum Plee Pad Nam Pla (Stir-Fried Cabbage with Fish Sauce)
Last but not least, one of the most revered local dishes that seems very minimal in terms of looks, ingredients and cooking. We had the same idea before our quest for the best and crunchiest stir-fried kale. A good Ka Lum Plee Pad Nam Pla takes fresh kales, the right amount of fragrant fish sauce, the right level of heat and the right cooking time.