Tag Archive for thai

chickpea and roasted sweet potato salad with a thai coconut dressing

sweet potato and chickpea salad

It is summer time, so my thoughts have naturally turned to salads.

I love salads that are a whole meal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with green salads, but I tend to think of them as a side dish, rather than the main event.

This is one of my favourite substantial salads. I sometimes vary what goes into it, adding spinach or some other leafy green, but the chickpeas and either roasted sweet potato or pumpkin are always a constant.

I roast vegetables on a cooler day in summer so that they are ready in the fridge for using in salads. If I have some veggies already roasted, it makes it very quick to throw this or any other salad together. The dressing is what makes it so delicious.  You could probably use it with any firm vegetable and it would work.

The dressing has all those special Thai hot, spicy, sweet and salty notes that make everything taste good.

I took this recently to a family meal and it was a big hit.


chickpea and roasted sweet potato salad with a thai coconut dressing
prep time
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recipe type: salad
cuisine: vegan
serves: 6
  • 500g sweet potato
  • 1 400 gram can of chickpeas, or equivalent amount of home cooked ones.
For the dressing
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, white part only
  • 2-3 red small chillies
  • a small handful of fresh coriander
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves finely sliced
  • 4 tablespoons coconut milk,
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vegan 'fish' sauce (or you could substitute light soy)
  • extra fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
  1. Peel and dice the sweet potato into 1-2 cm chunks.
  2. Roast them in the oven with the smallest amount of oil until just tender. Allow to cool.
  3. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
Make the dressing
  1. Remove the hard outside layers from the lemongrass until you have just the tender part.
  2. Remove the seeds from the chillies unless you like things really hot.
  3. Add the lemongrass, chillies, fresh coriander, kaffir lime leaves to a mortar and pestle and pound to a rough paste. It doesn't matter too much if there are occasional chunks in it.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk, the 'fish' sauce and sugar and add as much lime juice as you need to taste.
  5. You can keep tweaking it with more lime juice, 'fish' sauce and sugar until it tastes how you like it.
  6. Mix the dressing into the chickpeas and sweet potato and garnish with extra coriander leaves.


tom yum

tom yum

I’m sitting and writing this post with all the effects of eating a wonderful bowl of fragrant, hot, sour and salty tom yum soup. Tissues at the ready, hiccups from the chillies. And loving it.

My family all love Thailand and Thai food, a legacy of one of my sisters living in Bangkok for a couple of years. I received a kaffir lime tree for my birthday a few years back. It is popular with my family, neighbours and friends when they are making Thai food. Just the smell of the leaves is transporting. Back to Thailand in an instant.

Anyway, recent events led me to making the soup, which I have never done before. I had been in the city for a couple of days and dropped into Supercharger for lunch. They have a tom yum soup that is just delicious and I decided I must make some.

As luck would have it, that night I watched an episode of David Thompson’s Thai Street Food and he was making Tom Yum. I had no idea it was so easy to make. I learned that ‘tom’ means to boil in Thai, and that’s exactly what the soup is. Stock boiled with aromatic herbs and some vegetables.

The classic tom yum in Thailand often has prawns and straw mushrooms.  I happened to have some mock vegan prawns in the freezer from Vincent’s Vegetarian so I used them along with some canned champignons. You could put any vegetables or tofu in it, the soup is the star.

It is easy to make and utterly delicious. Perfect for something light after all that holiday excess. Just go and make some!


tom yum
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recipe type: soup
cuisine: thai
serves: 4
  • 1 litre of stock (I used Massel)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 8 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 large dried hot chilli or 2-3 small. ( I removed the seeds because I am a wimp)
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, white tender part only
  • 5 coriander roots
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 small fresh birdseye chillies (I also removed the seeds)
  • 2 thin slices of galangal or ginger
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste (optional, this is sour, so if you don't have it you'll just need to use more lime juice)
  • 1-2 cups of cubed tofu, "prawns", mushrooms or whatever you want in the soup.
For the seasonings
  • the juice of one lime, to taste
  • 2 tbsp vegan fish sauce, to taste ( I got mine from the Cruelty Free Shop)
  • more bird’s eye chillies, bruised (I used one!)
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  1. Boil the stock, sugar, salt, tomatoes and dried chillies until the tomatoes soften.
  2. In a mortar and pestle (or with a heavy knife on a board if you don't have one) bruise the lemongrass, coriander roots, kaffir lime leaves, fresh chillies and galangal.
  3. Add the bruised herbs to the soup and cook for a minute or two.
  4. Add the vegetables, prawns and tofu with the tamarind paste and cook for another minute or two.
  5. Put the soup into a serving bowl.
  6. Add the seasonings bit by bit, tasting and adjusting. The soup should be hot, sour and salty with no one flavour dominating.


thai yellow curry with seitan and potatoes

thai yellow curry

When I was in Sydney a couple of weeks ago I bought some handmade seitan from Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher. You can also buy seitan or soy mock meats at a lot of Asian grocers – my favourite is Vincent’s Vegetarian. If you’ve never been to Vincent’s, and like mock meat, you really should go. It is astonishing and slightly scary what you can make with soy and wheat protein! If you are not a mock meat fan, then you could use chick peas, some fried tofu chunks or just other firm vegetables with the potatoes.

The potatoes I used in this dish are some beautiful Dutch Creams I grew this year that are almost ready to harvest. I dug a couple out from under the plants with my hands, leaving the plant intact. Dutch Creams are my favourite potato at the moment. They are good for using in just about anything – baking, boiling, roasting and salads. They look beautiful with their yellow flesh and they taste wonderful.

Anyway, enough of the potato adoration. I needed to use the seitan and I thought of this yellow curry that I’d made at a cooking school in Thailand about 12 years ago. Thai yellow curries are unusual because they use both curry paste and curry powder.

I dug out the notes from the school to a check up on the ingredients and headed off to Victoria Street in Richmond to stock up on some essentials that I didn’t have – like fresh lemongrass.

I don’t make curry pastes very often, but when I do I remember how fresh and vibrant they are compared to commercially made ones. This time I decided to go the home-made route, but really you can use a commercially made one and it will be great. I can’t be bothered making a curry paste about 99 times out of 100, I’m fundamentally a lazy cook. 🙂

Valcomm make a yellow curry paste that doesn’t have shrimp paste in it and it is easily available at supermarkets in Australia.

I felt like some greens with mine so, although it isn’t traditional, I threw a big handful of spinach leaves on top of the steamed rice in my bowl to wilt underneath the curry.


yellow curry with seitan and potatoes
prep time
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recipe type: savoury, main meal
cuisine: thai
serves: 4
  • For the curry paste
  • 12 mild large dried red chillies seeds removed and soaked in water for at least 10 minutes then finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ginger peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chopped lemongrass (white parts only)
  • 4 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon vegan shrimp paste (you can buy this from the Cruelty Free Shop]
  • For the curry
  • 300 g seitan sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 250ml coconut cream
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 4 tablespoons yellow curry paste (either made as above or a ready made one)
  • 2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar (raw sugar, muscovado or panela are OK too and they are available in a supermarket)
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  1. Put all of the paste ingredients into a mortar and pound until smooth, You could also do this in a blender adding a bit of water to help. Or use a ready made curry paste.
  2. Put the coconut cream into a large frying pan or wok and fry for several minutes stirring until the oil separates. This is really important, it contributes to the flavour of the curry.
  3. Add the curry paste and curry powder and fry for 1-2 minutes
  4. Add the seitan and potatoes fry for a couple of minutes
  5. Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil
  6. Add half of the palm sugar and half of the soy sauce
  7. Simmer until the potato is cooked adding some water if needed.
  8. Taste and add as much of the sugar and soy sauce as needed.
  9. If the curry has become too thick or the oil has separated, thin with some extra coconut milk to bring it back together.