Oh Thai grapao where shall we begin…
In order to tell you more about my love for Thai food and especially a Grapao aka Pad Grapao or in English Chicken stir fry with Holy basil. I have to tell you a bit about me and why I needed a vegan Thai grapao in my life.
My Thailand days
I lived in Thailand for 2.5 years back in 2011-2013. For the first year, I wasn’t vegan. My health journey and lifestyle transformation began in the second year by trying not to eat rice and fried pork for breakfast.
Yes, I wasn’t always vegan or healthy but we all start somewhere.
I love Thai food. It’s the one cuisine that I could eat every day and not get tired of. Maybe because I did eat Thai food for almost every day for 2.5 years. I look back on those days and even though life is so different now, I’m thankful for each and every experience I had and everything I got to taste along the journey.
What is Thai Grapao?
In simple terms a grapao comprises of chicken pieces, holy basil, fish sauce, oyster sauce, garlic and a few other ingredients which all get stir fried together and served with perfect rice on the side. Because I never ate eggs, I never ate this dish with eggs but fried eggs are common to eat with grapao and other Thai dishes.
What makes grapao special?
This had to be a favorite close runner up to Som Tam (green papaya salad) and Pad Thai. When I went vegan, I could no longer eat this delicious dish with the fragrant Holy basil. Looking back now, I wish I had tried to make a vegan version of this sooner.
Holy basil! If you have never hear of Holy basil, head to your local Asian store NOW and go grab some. It’s one of my favorite herbs to cook with and adds so much flavor to food. I realize that it was never the chicken in the grapao that make it special but rather the Holy basil.
Being vegan never has to be boring
This vegan Thai grapao is not here to be a complicated dish that puts you off cooking. In fact, it is quite easy to make and requires a few less ingredients that the usual chicken grapao. Let this be a culinary journey and an exciting one exploring new flavors.
This vegan grapao is:
- Slightly spicy
- Pretty darn close to the real thing
- High in protein (21g), calcium and iron
So lets go to Thai heaven now and try this out.
First things first
Every Thai grapao needs a ‘fishy’ tasting component and because fish sauce and oyster sauce are out the picture I make use of nori sheets. This seaweed adds that ocean fish flavor and is easily found at most grocery stores or an Asian store. I use this brand.
You need some firm tofu. I have not tried to make this gluten free or soy free BUT I do believe you could get a similar taste although not authentic from using tamari and lentils or walnut bits instead of tofu.
Lastly, all you need is 30 minutes
Yup, that’s all it takes to create this amazing dish. So no excuse not to give it a try. I guarantee you, it’s a winner and might just become your weekly favorite.
- 1 block extra firm tofu Always get GMO free and Organic if possible
- 1 bunch Thai Holy basil available from Asian stores
- 2 tsp chili and garlic sauce or 2 cloves fresh garlic and 2 thai chilli
- 1 small onion
- 1 tsp coconut sugar or sweetener of choice
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce low sodium
No fish sauce
- 1/4 pineapple or 4 large frozen pineapple blocks Can always use 1/4 can crushed pineapple or 1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice
- 1/2 nori sheet
- 3 tbsp soy sauce low sodium preferred
- 1 cup white Jasmine rice
- 1/2 tsp salt
No fish sauce
- Add 3 tbsp soy sauce, 4 large pineapple chunks (about 1/4 pineapple) and 1/2 nori sheet to a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Add 1 cup of rice, 1/2 tsp salt and 1.5 cups water to a pot. Bring to the boil on high. Once boiling cover the rice with a lid and lower the stove to low.
- In a pan heat the coconut oil.
- Dice the onion and sautee till translucent in the coconut oil.
- Drain the tofu and press between a clean towel or paper towels. Break tofu by squeezing in your hands. Add to the pan with the onions.
- Add the garlic and chili paste.
- Let this mixture fry for at least 10 minutes and stir from time to time to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pan.
- Now add 5 tbsp of the no fish sauce and 2 tbsp soy sauce.
- Stir fry until the tpfu resembles ground beef.
- Lastly add the Holy basil, cook for 2 more minutes and serve.
Let me know if you give this a try. If you’re interested in more Thai vegan recipes let me know. For another quick and easy Asian inspired meal, try this cauliflower kimchi fried rice.
Until next time, happy cooking 🙂