Thai Food, The Basics, Veggie sides

Stir-fried mixed veg with cashew nuts

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I used to eat this a lot when I first came to Thailand and in many restaurants when you ask what vegetarian food they have they say stir-fried mixed veg. served with plain rice, which I got bored of pretty quickly. However, a friend introduced me to a place that did a really good version using a more interesting variety of vegetables and the addition of cashew nuts which makes all the difference to me and somehow turns what might just be a side dish into an acceptable main dish. I don’t eat it as often these days but I do still sometimes order it in restaurants and occasionally make it at home if I have a nice selection of veggies. This version is a recreation of the dish I used to have over 25 years ago. They varied their veggies a bit but the selection was something like this with sugar snap / mange tout peas, asparagus, mushrooms and the more common, carrot, onion and tomatoes. You can use whatever you have, cauliflower or broccoli are good as are other greens such as pak choi.

Key tips

  1. Have a good variety of different vegetables and balance the quantities so that one single item doesn’t dominate the dish.
  2. Prepare the veg. in advance so that you can cook it quickly.
  3. Sequence the cooking so that the veg that take longer go in first and the quicker cooking items later.
  4. Fry the cashews first and add them back in at the end.
  5. Don’t overcook the veg it’s nice to have some crunch in the dish.

I prepared all my veg. a peeled and sliced (red) onion, 3 cloves of roughly crushed garlic, about a cupful of mushrooms, half a carrot (peeled and sliced), about a cupful of sugar snap peas, about a cupful of asparagus, a handful of cherry tomatoes (halved) or a roughy chopped large tomato.

First I heated about 3 tablespoons of (coconut) oil in my wok and fried the cashew nuts until golden brown and then I strained them of oil and put them to one side. I the same oil I fried the onion of a minute or so the I added the mushrooms and garlic and fried for about a minute, then I added the carrot and fried for a short while. Next I added about a  tablespoon or so of light (mushroom) soy sauce and then threw in the sugar snap peas and the asparagus. I added a splash of water at this point this will help steam the veg a little and help bring out the colours. I carried on frying as the water evaporated. Finally I added a couple of tablespoons of mushroom ‘oyster’ sauce and some (white) pepper and put the cashews back in. I made sure everything was coated in the sauce, you may need to add a dash more water. You can also taste it and add more soy sauce if necessary, remember if you are serving it with plain rice then the dish will need to have a good flavor. It can be served with other Thai dishes such as a curry, or served with a Thai omelette.

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