Sunday, September 21, 2008

As Local as Thai Gets in MN

I've been on a mission the last few days to get some really flavorful, awesome Thai food.  My seemingly simple goal was thwarted on Friday when Mango, the delicious-smelling Thai place on Selby Ave. didn't have any dishes without fish sauce (except a curry and that didn't fit the craving).  I suppose it's for the best, as I would eat there every day for lunch if it was really good.

Then last night I took myself out to dinner at Supatra, a great Thai place on W. 7th street.  I was thrilled when they said the hot & sour soup was vegan, but disappointed when I was served a bowl of plain vegetable broth with mixed vegetables in it.  Not hot.  Not sour.  I had this item removed from my tab.

Luckily, the Spicy Noodles with Thai Basil (without the egg) were delicious, rich, and plenty filling- although not spicy.  I left only partially satisfied.  

So tonight I'm trying to quench the craving myself.  I have lemongrass, jalapenos, and tomato from my garden, plus tons of onion, broccoli, and yams from local farms.  Surely I can pull this off... You can't expect anyone else to please you if you can't please yourself, right?!

Thai Tofu & Yams

First, get the tofu and sauce ready:
2-3 stalks of lemongrass, minced
1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, minced
1 large red onion, thickly sliced
4 Tbsp. lime juice
4 kaffir lime leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 large tomato, peeled and seeded, diced
1 12 oz. pack of extra firm tofu, drained and cubed

Combine all ingredients in a sealable container and mix thoroughly.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  It'll look like this:

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F and prepare the yams:

2 large yams, cubed
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. ancho chile powder (or other chile powder for more spice)
1 tsp. dried lemongrass
1 tsp. kosher salt
Half of the onions picked out of the marinade

Toss all ingredients in a glass baking dish.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until yams are tender and lightly browned.
Pick out the tofu cubes from the marinade and place them on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet.  It's okay it bits of tomato, garlic, peppers, etc. stick to the tofu.  Bake for 20 minutes, then stir and bake for 10-20 more minutes, or until browned.

While this is baking, steam up some broccoli or something else that's green and good for you.

Then prepare the sauce:

Remaining marinade
2 Tbsp. jam (I used peach)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch, mixed with 3 Tbsp. cold water
salt to taste
crushed red chilies to taste

Put the remaining marinade in a small saucepan and add the jam.  Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer until remaining onions are tender.  Then add the cornstarch and water mixture and stir until the sauce has thickened.  Carefully taste the sauce and adjust salt and spiciness to taste.

Serve the yams, broccoli, and tofu mixed together or separately, but be sure to drizzle the sauce over everything.  Garnish with minced fresh Thai basil.

While this is clearly not a traditional Thai recipe, it has the lemongrass, chilies, and lime that I crave from Thai food.  I'll give it an 8 out of 10 on satisfying my Thai craving.  

By the way, if Thai style yams freak you out, just make the tofu and sauce.  It's good all on its own or over rice.

1 comment:

Claire said...

Vegetarian times has a recipe for pho, the vietnamese noodle soup/dish, and i've used that recipe as a basis for quasi-thai- just use lemongrass and red curry paste instead of the spices they recommend, less soy sauce- don't want the broth too dark for this, and tofu and veggies as you wish. top with basil and cilantro.

red curry paste has- red chiles, ginger, lime leaf or lime juice, lemongrass, and usually not much else. I have a great thai book at home that i veganize- sometimes i toss miso in the soup to add that fermented thing that fish sauce has. good luck!
oh and a little hot sesame oil helps too!