We do offer gluten free cooking classes! Lately, our in person class in Bangkok has had a lot of inquiries from people who want to learn how to make delicious, gluten free Thai food. As many of those guests have found, we’re ready to talk with you in detail about Thai ingredients, recipes, and food culture that make it possible to enjoy even with strict dietary restrictions.
Thinking Healthier Post Pandemic
The pandemic has made us all a little more health conscious. We’ve used the down time to reformat our classes and our cooking space. First off, we’ve converted our main cooking class to a plant based format. This means most of the ingredients we use in each cooking session are vegetarian or vegan. Also like a lot of people looking to destress over the past few years, we’ve expanded our garden space. So much so, that our guests often remark that it looks like a jungle! Our little urban jungle is full of edible plants that are local and less well known by newcomers to Thai food such as pandan, long pepper, and wild betel leaves. It isn’t a coincidence that these two things go together, as we teach we encourage others to be more mindful about what’s on our plates, where it comes from, and how it impacts our personal health, and the health of our local environments.
Gluten Free Thai Food
Going plant based helps us accommodate people interested in gluten free cooking, or who have other dietary requests and restrictions. But helping people who may struggle to find classes in Bangkok that can accommodate them also gives us an opportunity to highlight the versatility of Thai cuisine and ingredients. For example, there are many great dishes that rely on gluten free staples such as rice noodles. This means with the exception of some of the sauces included, dishes such as pad thai and pad see ew already lend themselves well to gluten free cooking!
This is good news for everyone, whether they may be avoiding wheat due to a serious allergy, or a dietary preference. We would love to encourage you that, although you have to be persistent about asking about ingredients, there are still plenty of things to safely feast on and cook in Thailand. Since wheat only began making appearances in Thai dishes fairly recently, much of local, traditional Thai food may already be gluten free. Out tip? Be careful to ask about the sauces used to season food, which may contain wheat. You can always prepare a short script to explain your diet before your trip and have it translated. We’ve even seen some travelers bringing their own gluten free seasoning to restaurants!
If you’ve got a question about booking a class, please use our contact page to reach out to us. As always, thank you for your support!
Tempeh, a meat alternative made from soybeans, is a valuable product originating from Indonesia for people on a plant-based diet, or striving to eat healthier.
To make it, producers allow soybeans to ferment before adding a specific healthy bacteria to them. This bacteria grows and after a few days begins to connect together the individual pieces of soybean with a visible white fuzz. The entire 2-3 day process of creating tempeh results in more nutrients that are good for your gut and overall health.
Since this fuzzy-looking brick of beans is still a novel food product to many people around the world, we would like to share some tips on how to store your tempeh so that you can enjoy it safely and extend the shelf life.
1) Source Quality Tempeh
Whenever possible, find tempeh made from non-GMO soybeans and that are sustainably packaged. Most commonly found on the market is tempeh wrapped in plastic. While suppliers may use plastic as an easy way to extend the life of the tempeh, it also prevents us from accurately gauging the age of the tempeh and whether or not it has been frozen or refrozen multiple times. The means you could possibly buy tempeh that looks fine from the outside, but upon opening find it has a strong smell or brightly colored bacteria which should not be consumed.
2) Keep Tempeh Chilled
In supermarkets, we often only have the choice of plastic-wrapped tempeh. If this is the case, choose tempeh that looks the healthiest from the outside, and that’s stored in the coolest place. Doorless refrigeration or even freezers that are opened too frequently can result in lower quality tempeh. Keep in mind that even when refrigerating or freezing tempeh, the bacteria is still active. This is the reason you tempeh may continue to age and yellow when stored at cold temperatures. For safe storage, be sure to reference food safety guidelines and check the temperature of your refrigerator occasionally.
3) Make A Plan to Cook Your Tempeh
No schematics or schedules needed, but do give some thought about when you will cook your tempeh. If you plan to use your tempeh within the week, refrigerate it. If stored properly, your tempeh should last 2-3 weeks in your refrigerator. If you won’t use your tempeh for several days, or you’re unsure yet, we recommend putting your tempeh in the freezer. Once stored in the freezer the tempeh can safely last for at least a month, often longer.
4) Store Tempeh Dry & Air Tight
Your tempeh is very much alive. When fermenting the tempeh, it is usually warm to the touch as the mold mycelium grows around the bean, connecting them. This process is amazing because it helps to break down the soybeans, meaning there’s less work for our bodies to do during digestion and the nutrients in the beans are more accessible.
However, if we neglect to store our tempeh thoughtfully it will continue to ferment. This is the reason that your refrigerator-stored tempeh continues to yellow. To slow the fermentation process, use a resealable bag or air-tight container to store your tempeh. Making sure the tempeh is dry, air-tight, and cool. These steps will help extend the shelf life of this important vegan protein.
5) Know the Signs of Spoilage
Finally, you should know the warning signs of tempeh that has begun to spoil. If your tempeh begins to get slimy or has a strong smell, this is a signal to your nose that it should not be eaten. While tempeh that has yellowed is still edible, you can also cut into the tempeh to be sure there is no mold inside. While some dark spots of mold are normal and edible, brightly colored or strong smelling mold means you should discard your tempeh.
The Thai new year is a holiday is one where we’re enjoying not being in the kitchen! This doesn’t mean that we’re not thinking about food, in particular new additions and upgrades to our vegan menu.
When the pandemic began last year, it was during the holiday that we decided to try our hand at selling vegan food. We didn’t know what to do, but tourism had come to a screeshing halt. What was clear, was that if possible we wanted to continue to employ our staff and help communities in need.
Today we do this by offering virtual cooking classes to people around the world, and a plant based delivery service to Bangkok locals. We started with selling meat alternatives like tofu and tempeh, kitchen staples for vegans and vegetarians. However, not long after we introduced food menu that people could pre-order from, that started with about 7 dishes and has no expanded to 20+ items.
The menu is plant based, vegan, and strives to be clean. That means there’s no meat products, no white sugar, and lots of oil-free options. Need an example? Try cooking the chickpea salad from our menu with using the recipe we recently shared.
BBQ “Pulled Jackfruit” Sandwich
This vegan pulled pork sandwich is one of the recent additions to the menu. To create it we source organic, juvenile jackfruit, which is in season right now, and stew it until tender. We originally served this on a burger bun, but the sweet and spicy bbq sauce that coats the pulled jackfruit demanded bread that holds up better.
Going forward, you’ll find that when you order this sandwich, it’s now served on a baguette that is plenty crispy when toasted. This is seemingly a small change, but adds so much texture and portability to this beloved menu item.
Nam Prik Ong, the Northern Thai Chili Dip
Northern Thai food isn’t a cuisine that makes cooking plant based easy. Many of the dishes derive their delicious flavor from the inclusion of meat, especially pork. This includes foods like nam prik ong, a sweet-salty chili dip with a spicy kick.
Like the rest of the genre of chili dips in Thailand, you typically enjoy nam prik ong with a platter of vegetables. The amount of blanched and raw vegetables included is usually so large that it dwarfs the size of dip with generous bunches of local leaves, crispy vegetables and fresh herbs. However as these dips drift away from their humble beginnings and into mainstream view, the amount of accompanying vegetables shrinks, with some even being replaced by fried meats.
We’d encourage you to enjoy this dish traditionally with a flurry of healthy local veg. Our version is made with plant meat so you can enjoy it regularly, and don’t have the worry that the vegan version has any less flavor or spice than what meat eater’s enjoy.
Vegan Burger Patties
An addition to our staples menu, we introduced vegan burger patties to offer a meat alternative that was more familiar than tofu and tempeh. The patties combined chickpeas and soy pulp (okara) with a mix of herbs and spices to make them flavorful and filling. However they were a lot of work to create and from our original vegan sliders, to the substantially larger final patty prototype there was a complete transformation.
We’re proud of what we created last year, but we’ve now simplified the recipe and given the burgers an upgrade that improves the texture. To do this, we’ve combined them with the product of a local plant based meat company called More Meat. The product is locally produced, uses few additives, and the resulting patty is easier to cook.
That’s not all, these better tasting burgers hold up to more pressure when eating. They don’t go crumbly and retain some moisture inside so they’re juicy too. In fact, the firmness that the plant meat adds has allowed us to ditch their plastic packaging, and send them to customers wrapped in banana leaf.
Thank for reading. For more information on our plant based, vegan delivery service in Bangkok, find the full menu here.
The hottest time of the year has arrived in Thailand! What better way to celebrate the sweatiest time of the year, than with Thailand’s hottest foods?
This was exactly the thinking the US Embassy had when enlisting diplomats to taste test six of the spiciest Thai dishes they could find. The fun video starts with the least spicy and slowly builds up the heat with each progressive dish. The result is a quick video that helps introduce a few new Thai dishes to people around the world and wishes everyone a Happy Thai Year, which the Songkran Festival celebrates each year around this time.
Watch the video below and read on to learn more about the dishes that appear in the video. Have you tried them all? Join one of our cooking classes when you’re ready to spice things up!
6) Nam Prik Noom น้ำพริกหนุ่ม
Roasted and Pounded Thai Pepper Dip
Warm up the palate with a dish that is often served as an appetizer in Northern Thailand, nam prik noom. The chili dip is made up of medium-sized and juicy light green peppers that most closely resemble banana peppers. Keep in mind though, the flavor and spice level can vary depending on the vendor. The best versions are charcoal roasted before being pound in a mortar and pestle to make a soft, stringy dip.
Spicy Bonus Facts:
Nam prik noom is most often enjoyed with a variety of ingredients to dip into the paste. While most of them are raw and blanched vegetables, the most infamous is pork crackling. The curly pork rind is tough and crunchy making it easy to scoop up the dip, and the combination of textures makes it super addictive!
5) Pad Grapow ผัดกะเพราหมู
Garlic and Chili Stir Fried with Minced Pork and Holy Basil
The most famous of the dishes on this list is pad krapow. For Thais this is the repeat go to dish when you’re unsure what exactly you’re craving. If the spicy, umami combination is right it hits all those hard to reach cravings while giving you plenty of fresh chili — and fish sauce soaked chili as a condiment to increase the heat.
If you noticed one diplomat asking about an egg, the spiciest versions are usually served with a crispy fried egg, or kai dao. Crispy on the outside and slightly runny inside, the yolk helps to tame the spice and add texture.
4) Mama Pad Kee Mow มาม่าผัดขี้เมา
DrunkenInstant Noodles Stir Fried Chili and Green Peppercorn
Among Thailand’s spiciest noodle dishes you’ll always find pad kee mow ranked near the top. The dish combines your favorite noodles, in this case instant noodles, with fiery fresh chili and green peppercorn. When flash stir fried in the wok, the smoky noodles and overpoweringly heaty flavors can really separate who can and who can’t handle the heat!
The term kee mow is an adjective to refer to someone who is regularly drunk. Since this spicy dish is a favorite hangover cure, it’s not incorrect to translate it literally as, “A Drunk’s Noodles” as the fresh chili and numbing peppercorn forcefully shock you back to life.
3) Gaeng Hed แกงเห็ด
Northeastern Mushroom and Pumpkin Soup
This list is suspiciously missing papaya salad from Northeastern Thailand. However, there’s another dish more people should know about from this region called gaeng hed. This soup uses local ingredients making it hard to find outside of Thailand, but often has plenty of spice from fresh chili and funk from fermented fish paste.
The soupy curry contains lots of mushrooms, pumpkin, bamboo, and lemon basil to tame the heat, it also means chefs making it can add even more fresh chili. This is definitely a dish that you taste and think you’re eating something mild, only to have the gradual, lingering spice build up to a long lasting burn inside and outside of your mouth!
The dark color of the broth can be attributed to the yanang leaf (tiliacora triandra) which is blended to make the base of the soup. If you can survive all the heat and the funk, you may also benefit from the healthy properties of this leaf which is known to help regulate body temperature, a much-needed benefit this time of year!
2) Gaeng Tai Bla แกงไตปลา
Spicy and Pungent Fish Intestines Curry
If the name hasn’t already scared you away, the fragrant and appearance just might. This murky curry often tops most spicy lists with its spicy and powerfully pungent nature. One sip is enough to give you a dizzying dose of seaside fish market vibes, just before the visions of hell takeover. If fish intestines aren’t funky enough, the most popular way to enjoy this painful curry is over fermented rice noodles. Don’t even bother troubling the restaurant staff because true to the nature of southern Thai food, there is no mild version of this soup!
Not familiar with why anyone would want to eat fish intestines? The process for sun drying the stomach and intestines of the fish with salt is ancient and similar to the centuries-old process of making fish sauce. While these funky and fishy flavors have been mostly omitted from western diets, they’re still a rich source of umami goodness cherished by coastal communities in Thailand.
1) Gaeng Leung or Gaeng Som แกงเหลืองมะละกอปลา
Sour Yellow Curry with Fish and Pickled Papaya
Thailand’s hottest dish, according to US Embassy staff, is another famous curry from southern Thailand called gaeng leung or gaeng som. While not as funky as the previous curry, this means the chili in the curry has the full attention of your taste buds. Meaty chunks of fish and pickled papaya can provide a brief reprieve from the heat. However, let’s be honest there’s no real escape from this heat.
Unlike the more common versions of Thai curries, this dish has no coconut milk as a creamy backdrop to soothe your tongue. Instead, the curry paste is added directly to water or seafood stock. This gives the curry a more soupy consistency but also makes it more dangerous. With a close look, you may even be able to spot some of the speckles of the ridiculous amount of pulverized chili, turmeric, and other herbs used to make the intense paste.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to try this dish, the closest combination of flavors would be from tom yum soup. The sour tartness of the curry comes from the addition of tamarind, pineapple, or lime, and can make the dish a pleasantly addictive way to burst into flames. While tom yum may be more well known outside of Thailand, there are few meals in Southern Thailand that aren’t accompanied by this spicy cornerstone of regional cuisine.
Here’s a few scenes from a big weekend in Bangkok for the Courageous Kitchen team. For the first time, we’re popping up to serve a menu all of our own creation in a local restaurant. The menu is a testament to healthy eating, sustainability, and rustic Thai food. We couldn’t be more proud to have our student leaders participating and to share this event with you.
The Courageous Kitchen leadership program gives students opportunities to grow as cooks and as well balanced young people. Although the coronavirus has limited our activities this year, this month has been busy. With the Thai vegetarian festival happening, we took our young leaders into the combonation restaurant of Bolan and Err, to serve our own plant based menu.
During the pandemic we have been taking our healthy cooking to the next level, even launching a delivery service for plant based vegan food. So were please to be able to collaborate with the rustic cooking of the team behind Bolan and Err. The invitation from Chef Bo and Dylan gives our students a unique opportunity to see behinds the scenes, in not one, but two restaurants. In addition to having a hand in making dishes from Err, which specializes in elevated Thai drinking food, our students all get their first peek at fine dining dishes from Bolan.
The collab features two plant based set menus, one from Central Thailand and the other from Southern Thailand. Both sets feature our homemade soybean products, tempeh and tofu.
“The guests really loved your fried tempeh dish, now I want to taste!” remarked one of the waiters from Err. The dish they’re referring to is a special Phuket style fried curry paste and crispies piled on top of battered tempeh. The dish is called ‘tempeh tod kreung’ and the crunchy tempeh is a good match for the spicy and sweet paste.
The most popular dish from the Central Thailand set is the red curry or ‘gaeng daeng tempeh’. While you can experience a Thai red curry at any Thai restaurant, this dish is special because of the curry paste is handmade, and the ingredients in the curry are representative of Thai biodiversity.
“When we talk about plant based food, many enthusiasts do make a point to eat locally and in season. This is similar to many of the teachings we hear from Chef Bo, whether in the restaurant or on her television show, she always uses her food to highlight the diversity of ingredients in Thai cuisine.”
In addition to the tempeh in the curry, there’s a trio of pea aubergines, winter melon and snake gourd. The latter two especially are often overlooked by restaurants, even though people at home in the provinces still grow and use these ingredients commonly in their cooking. Each of these ingredients are abundant during the rainy season, and because they all have a different texture, keep your tongue guessing with each bite of the curry.
We’re relishing the experience to serve our supporters in Bangkok this weekend and learn from great chefs. We hope to take what we’ve learned into future endeavors, whether in our cooking classes or other training aspects of our leadership program. Never before has the overlap between food and health been so important, and we hope to shepherd our communities here and online towards better wellness as we grow.
Special thanks to the the Bolan and Err chefs and staff, and we look forward to collaborating on special events with them again in the future.
Ever heard of Thailand’s vegetarian festival? The event happens annually, and each year Thais all over the country give up meat for around two weeks. We’re celebrating this year by providing info on the occasion and popping up at a few fun events this month from the 17th of October until the 25th.
The dates of Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival may vary each year, but there’s always a few constant themes from the celebration:
Health & Mysticism – Many of the legends about the Vegetarian Festival point to the tale of malaria stricken Chinese opera singers who began paying homage to the gods with a vegetarian festival. The desperate faith of these Chinese immigrants to Phuket, combined with rituals brought from China resulted in a miraculous healing for those involved. As a result, the festival became embedded in the culture, being held year after year with increasing fanfare. Unlike secular medicine in the West, health in Asia during this time would have been strongly tied to religious beliefs. Pointing to the mystical healing aspect of the origin story may help explain the resulting traditions to festival newcomers.
Yellow Flags – When October rolls around the yellow flags come out abruptly and they’re everywhere, starting a few weeks before the festival. The flags are the most visible signs of the celebration and are used to demark where vegan or ‘jae‘ food is available. The Thai symbols on each flag look like the number 17 written in red text. You find them lining some popular street food territories, to products in your local grocery and convenience stores. Knowing the flag and the term can help vegan and vegetarian travelers identify food vendors during other times of the year as well.
Merging Culture – Southern Thailand because of trading routes on both sides of the peninsula, was an area with lots of merging cultural influences. During the last quarter of the calendar year, there are many other festivals, mostly with origins in the harvest season. The Vegetarian Festival is no different, but the unique blending of Thai, Indian, and Chinese culture is so fluid and unquestioned you may have a hard time distinguishing these traditions from each other. Chinese dragon dancers may appear in a parade juxtaposed with men carrying the likeness of a Hindu deity, and it may be one of the only times where locals visit modern Buddhist temples, traditional Chinese Buddhist temples, and Hindu temples in the same period.
Self-Deprivation – The period is a time of reflection, merit-making, fasting, asking forgiveness, and other tasks associated with purity. This is especially done by forsaking the most common desires. The way participants observe the festival varies by the beliefs of the practitioners with people abstaining from everything from sex to indulgent foods. The most iconic evidence of these practices is the event’s parades of people in trance-like states with a variety of objects impaling their faces.
Eating Vegan in Thailand
Fortunately for most of us, you can participate in the festival without walking on hot coals or driving sharp objects through your face. If there’s a form of austerity most common, it is observing the rules around food. You’ll find people around Thailand participating in this practice, even if they have no connection with the tradition. Most commonly in addition to not eating meat, there’s an added restriction of not eating pungent aromatics like onions and garlic. Since so many people do participate, the corresponding flags tell people where they can safely eat without worry of breaking the rules.
As a result of how widely celebrated the festival has become, everyone understands the concept of veganism. This is true, even if they don’t know the word vegan itself. This can be to your advantage if you’re vegan or vegetarian and need to request your food be cooked without animal products. Simply attaching the term ‘jae’ (pronounced jay) to the name of the dish will make it clearer to people, than anything you can enter into your translator.
If you’re a fan of Thai food, especially street food, a break from meat and spice heavy Thai dishes either feels like a welcome reprieve or cruel and unusual punishment. While many street food vendors may close their shops to enjoy a break, many will also begin offering quick-fire dishes minus the meat elements. When you’re exploring during this period, it’s important to double-check whether or not the vendors you’re visiting will be open as normal.
We recommend you’re informed, so you’re prepared to enjoy the festival. Vegetarian and vegan cooking in Thailand is having a revival. So this period is the best time to seek out special dishes that may not be otherwise offered, visit veg-friendly restaurants, or check out the best restaurants around the city to see if they’re accommodating observers in any special way.
Special Menu at Bolan Err
We’re teaming up with the duo from the restaurants Bolan and Err to showcase a special menu this month. This effort piggybacks on momentum from a recent plant-based cooking workshop we offered at the restaurant. The menu includes familiar dishes like a spicy red curry with local gourd (pictured below). In this special version, where you might normally find pork or chicken, we’ve used our homemade organic tempeh instead. The curry covered tempeh is not only filling but nutrient-rich and promotes healthy digestion as well. For a lesser-known dish order ‘Lon‘, a coconut-based dipping paste that is served with fresh vegetables.
The aim of the menu is to introduce more people to plant based Thai food. All too often, much of the information surrounding plant based eating is limited to western perspectives and recipes. However, it would be a shame if people thought plant based food was only salads and pasta. The truth is that the abundance of nutritious Thai ingredients allows a large majority of Thai food to pretty seamlessly adapt to a variety of healthier diets.
Encouraging Thais to eat healthier and more plant-based may be as simple as having them reflect on how people ate during their grandparent’s generation. Much of this mission is in line with the ethos at Bolan, whose namesake calls diners to harken their palates back to the golden age of Thai cooking. This means carefully crafted food, organic ingredients, and no processed enhancers like msg, white sugar, or condensed milk.
During the vegetarian festival, pop into Bolan (located in Sukhumvit 53) and choose from two special plant-based menu sets. Each of the sets are taken from dishes our Courageous Kitchen team loves to cook. We hope you’ll enjoy, and while doing so you’ll be helping us fundraise as well.
Plant Based Kick Off Festival
Any festival observers or plant based foodies won’t want to miss the upcoming Root the Future Festival at Sansiri Backyard. The large, 2-day event will bring together a variety of vendors with all sorts of products. You can think of it as a sequel to the previous Plant Based Market, but with an even greater array of products to choose from. The weekend also coincides with the beginning of the Vegetarian Festival, so it will be a fun, first of it’s kind way to kick off this yearly tradition.
Find our booth at the event and grab fresh tofu and tempeh. But that’s not all! We’ll be teaching tofu making in two sessions each day, at 3:40pm and again at 5pm. This will be great for tofu lovers and families interested in working together to create this unique and delicious ingredient. There will be lots happening, but please come say hello while enjoying the festivities!