Like so many of you, we are stuck indoors lately because of quarantine guidelines. As a social enterprise offering face to face cooking classes in Bangkok, we’ve mostly been shut down as tourism has been crippled since late February. However, we’re still doing what we can to support our community, and today we’d like to make your day brighter with some of our favorite, easy to do Thai recipes.
When we think about quick and versatile recipes, fried rice is pretty high in the ranks. You can adapt any ingredients you want, add pretty much any protein, and it’s unctuous and familiar enough to please the entire family. Even seasoning is easy. This recipe keeps it simple, using only soy sauce which is often already in your kitchen cabinet.
Let’s have at it, but to kick things up a notch we’d like to suggest the extra option of using a Thai curry paste in your recipe. The paste will lend color, spice, and excitement to the regular old fried rice you’ve made one too many times in the first few weeks of quarantine.
150g of the protein of your choice (chicken or tofu work great)
1 cup of cooked rice
2 cloves of garlic minced
4 small shallots (or 2-3 tbsp of other diced onion)
3 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup of vegetables (Your choice. Thai eggplants are great if you have them but even frozen or canned vegetable mixes also work)
Optional: A handful of sweet basil (about half a cup, Italian basil can be substituted)
How to Make Green Curry Fried Rice
Start by washing and slicing everything. For your tougher herbs and veggies, get a rolling bowl going in a pot so they can be blanched. Blanch, cool, and set aside.
Tap some oil into your pan and toast your curry paste until fragrant.
Add your protein of choice, stirring over medium heat until brown. For tender proteins like shrimp, cook and set aside. Also remember you can add a little water or stock if your curry gets too dry.
As your proteins mostly cooked, add aromatic herbs and vegetables. This is the best time, for example, to add garlic, shallots, diced carrots, mushrooms, or other veg of your choice. Let your meat finish cooking, and vegetables become tender and covered in curry paste before proceeding.
Add your rice and mix. When making more than one portion, be careful not to add so much rice that you overfill your wok.
Add your soy sauce. Stir, taste, and adjust if needed.
Maneuver your fried rice to one side of the pan, leaving space to crack your egg. Tilt the pan so the side with the egg is directly over the heat and scramble.
Once the egg is cooked, mix with the rest of your rice. Add a handful of sweet basil and turn off the heat.
Stir until the basil wilts, and serve.
Thai Pork Ball Soup (Thom Jeud)
Often this warming soup is one of the first defenses when you’re not feeling well. The soup varies from one Thai household to the next, so there are endless varieties. Use that knowledge as license to take some liberties with the recipe, making use of what you have on hand. We make and fill the soup with pork balls, but you can use chicken or create a vegetarian version. Finally, the soup reheats well and can be either a side dish in a fantastic meal or the main dish itself.
Soup Ingredients (serves 4)
1 liter of chicken or pork stock (about 4 cups)
1 cup of chopped cabbage
1 large carrot, sliced bite sized
1 packet of egg tofu, sliced
2 tbsp of soy sauce
400g minced pork
⅓ cup of carrot diced small
1 cup of chopped glass noodles
2 stalks of chopped spring onions (remember to set a tbsp or so aside to use as a garnish when serving)
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp palm sugar
How to Make Thai Pork Ball Soup (Thom Jeud)
Prep your vegetables. You can blanch carrots or other tough vegetables in advance to save time. (To make the soup extra filling parboiled potatoes are a hearty addition).
Slice your glass noodles small.
Mix glass noodles, spring onion and your chopped carrots with the pork in a bowl.
Season with oyster sauce, fish sauce, palm sugar, and soy sauce then make small meatballs
Boil your stock.
Add your meatballs, and when mostly cooked, add your carrot, cabbage, any other veg.
As they soften, lower the heat and add 2 tbsp of soy sauce. If this doesn’t seem like much seasoning remember your meatballs will be contributing lots of flavor to the soup as well.
Taste and add more soy sauce as needed.
Finally, add your egg tofu, turn off the heat, and stir gently.
Garnish with remaining spring onion before serving.
Kid’s Pad Thai with Instant Noodles
Finally we can’t forget about the kids. They’re home and seemingly always hungry. Take them on a journey in the kitchen using basic ingredients. This is a departure from a more typical pad thai, but we make it often for our Courageous Kitchen kids and everyone loves it!
Stir frying is a quarantine cook’s best friend. When you can throw everything you’re cooking up in one wok, all your dish washers will be pleased as well. So grab your biggest non-stick pan and get ready to make one of Thailand’s most loved noodle stir fries!
1 handful of blanched Chinese kale, broccoli, or the veg of your choice
A small handful of bean sprouts (can omit or substitute with micro-greens)
2 tbsp of pad thai sauce
1 tbsp of oil for stir frying
How to Make Pad Thai for Kids
Blanch any vegetables you want to add by dipping into boiling water for a few minutes (for Chinese kale this usually takes about one minute in boiling water).
Remove from the boiling water and add to ice water to stop the vegetables from cooking, and preserve the fresh color.
Use the same boiling water now to quickly boil your noodles. Most instant noodles will only take 1-2 minutes to become soft. Set aside.
Add oil to your wok or non stick pan. Follow with your chicken and cook until the color changes.
Add your vegetables to your cooked chicken, along with tofu. Stir quickly to heat the vegetables up.
Now add your cooked instant noodles and mix well.
Add bean sprouts and your pad thai sauce.
Mix everything and push to the side of the pan, away from the heat. In the hot portion of the pan crack and scramble your egg, stirring vigorously until cooked.
Once the egg is cooked, mix with all of the other ingredients and turn off the heat.
Stay safe and eat well during this extended quarantine period. While we hope everything gets back to normal soon, we’ll continuously be thinking about new ways to share our love of people and compassion for communities with you online in days to come.
Want to make a similar spicy green curry paste to the ones you tried in Thailand? This takes some practice and patience, but it’s possible. Everyone’s kitchen and tastes are different so an exact recipe is also tough. Today we tackle these challenges and hope to encourage more people around the world to make their own curry pastes. Lovers of green curry, let’s raise the bar of this delicious curry.
One promise we can make, fresh curry paste is ALWAYS better than the packaged kind.
Green Curry Paste Components
Early warning: making your own curry paste can be a mess. If you’re not in Thailand you don’t likely have all the tools you need for the job. Many folks based in cities in Thailand, may not even have space in their kitchen. However, if you have can figure out a method to pound, grind, and blend all of these ingredients together you can make a colorful, nutrient packed curry paste to share with your family.
Most Thai curry pastes are a mix of the following:
(1) dry spices
(3) aromatic roots
(4) fresh herbs
(5) shrimp paste
Curry Paste Crushing and Pounding Tools
Your mission then, is to decide how best to combine all of those ingredients together. Thais traditionally use a mortar and pestle. They are made from heavy granite and when you give them plenty of elbow grease, they’re great at pounding these varied types of ingredients into a paste. In a modern kitchen you may not have this as an option. So you need to find whatever you can to crush the dry spices, and others you can put in a food processor or blender. Here are some options:
Traditional Thai mortar and pestle Spice grinder + blender/ food processor Large rock + blender / food processor
Large rock? Are you serious. Yes! There have been occasions when cooking for people while traveling, where I haven’t had everything I needed to crush spices. If that happens, feel free to go flintstone on these spices. Whatever you gotta do, dinner must go on! Just be sure to wash the rock well and have a suitable surface you can pulverize thing on. The best curry mortars are made of stone after all! Once back to my regular kitchen, I appreciated the hand chiseled granite from Angsila, Thailand so much more.
Remember when you read the recipe below that your rock or spice grinder is mainly for your dry spices. Depending on your machine, you may need some practice getting the paste to be the consistency you desire. This is normal, and you can even add a bit of water or stock if things are getting caught in your machine. If you’re doing it for the first time, I would suggest you don’t blend too smooth.
That sorted? If you still have questions you can comment below. After the recipe, we’ve provided some trouble shooting questions people ask regularly. We hope this helps you make a more authentic green curry. If you enjoy, your support of Courageous Kitchen via our donation pages is much appreciated.
Green Curry Paste Ingredients
Dry spices 1 tsp peppercorn (white peppercorn is most common, but any will do) 1 tsp cumin 1 tbsp coriander seed
Chili 5-10 small spicy Thai green chili (spice lovers can hunt for the “prik kee noo”) 5-10 green medium to large chili (“prik chee fah”, serrano or similar) 1 tbsp of salt (optional if grinding by hand)
Roots 3-4 coriander roots 1 knob of galangal 1 knob of turmeric Note: 1 knob for this purpose is roughly 30-40 grams or 2-3 tablespoons if using the powdered form.
Herbs 4-8 garlic cloves 4-6 shallots (small, sweet ones preferred) 1 tbsp of kaffir lime zest (about half of a kaffir lime) 2-3 lemongrass stalks sliced small
Shrimp Paste 1 heaping tbsp of shrimp paste
Green Curry Paste Instructions
Toast your dry spices. (Optionally any of your roots can be toasted at this time as well.)
Grind your dry spices and set aside.
If pounding by hand, grind your chili in the mortar with salt. After smooth begin adding all other ingredients, including dry spices gradually.
If using a blender combine everything, adding stock or a small amount of coconut milk to help the paste blend together.
Store your curry paste in an airtight container in the fridge or get cooking with a green curry recipe right away.
Fresh green curry paste oxidizes quickly and won’t look vibrant for long. If you don’t plan to use the paste the same day, pan fry with oil and then keep in an airtight container. In the refrigerator, this can last as long as a month.
What if I don’t have a spice grinder or rock (lol)?
Don’t forget you can get coriander, peppercorn and cumin in powder form. The reason we prefer the whole spice is because the flavor is more intense, especially after toasting. However, work with what you have and make sure they are incorporated well into your paste.
What can I make with my curry paste besides curry?
Feel free to get creative with your green curry paste. You can use it as a marinade. You can use it to make a spicy sauce to cover steak. One of our favorites? Green curry fried rice!
Can I just dump everything into the mortar or blender?
We see people using the dump method. But depending on the texture you want at the end, we don’t always recommend it for beginners. Adding your ingredients gradually allows you to make sure things incorporate smoothly and you can add or adjust flavors as needed. Then when you’ve made the curry a bunch of times and know what you love (or what your blender can handle), you can take liberties with how you add the ingredients.
Can I use a marble mortar and pestle?
Found a small mortar and pestle in the kitchen store? This is likely used for dry spices and medicine. You can use it to start your curry paste, but you don’t want to be trying to crush things like lemongrass in there because it will likely take forever. I would use it to crush your dry spice, and then move everything to a food processor or blender.
I can’t find coriander root. Can I substitute the coriander stems or add bell pepper?
People use leaves and stems to help with the color (shouldn’t be needed for this recipe), but it isn’t a good substitute for the flavor of the root. If you go without it, try upping the amount of toasted coriander seeds you add.
If you need to use milder chilies and peppers you can. Just be aware the flavor and water content of them (bell pepper for instance) will change the nature of the paste.
Do you use the same paste for different types of meat?
You can use this generic recipe for any meat. However, if you’re cooking fish, beef, or game meat, we may increase the dried spices and also add more root aromatics. The best part of making your curry paste is the ability to customize it as needed. When Thai chefs customize the curry to the protein, for example adding extra fingerroot when cooking with fish, that’s a sign of next level expertise!
Why is my green curry so light green?
Typically the curry will come out light green. If you want a stronger color, this is really the purpose of the knob of turmeric as an ingredient. You can add more to intensify the green, but be careful it doesn’t start going orange. Turmeric, like the other roots Thais love, is also very healthy for you.
If you’ve seen Netflix’s Chef Show, you may have seen them add the coriander stems, basil, and all sorts of stuff to make it green. Yes, this is possible, but not what we recommend, nor how it’s done it Thailand. That method is more of a quick trick in the kitchen when you’re in a panic and need curry.
Is there a substitute for galangal?
No. There is no substitute for galangal. However, if you can’t find it fresh you can use the dried kind.
Many people make the mistake of thinking ginger is interchangeable. They are not. You can use ginger if you have no other option, but it will change the flavor. This is no major sin though, as ginger is used in some types of curry pastes. However, when using it for the first time, be conservative. The flavor and spice level may surprise you, as it can be more pronounced than roots like galangal and turmeric.
Similar to people adding green leaves to improve the color of your curry, you can do it, but it will require trial and error if you’re chasing a real Thai style curry flavor.
How can I store my fresh curry paste? Can I freeze it?
Your fresh paste won’t last too much longer than a few days in the fridge. Green curry paste especially has a habit of oxidizing even after only a few hours in the fridge (we should be very afraid of the store-bought pastes that last forever and never change color). To extend the life beyond a week, pan fry the curry paste with a few tablespoons of oil. Then spoon it into a jar or sealed container and store in your refrigerator for as long as a month.
You can freeze your paste as well. But don’t expect the thawed version to be as flavorful. To remedy this, refresh your paste with freshly pounded or grounded aromatics (like chili, garlic, and shallots). We prefer it fresh, but this can be a big timesaver when you have made more paste than you can use easily.
Will my green curry paste be ruined if I’m missing an ingredient?
No. Overall curry paste if pretty forgiving and tolerant of lots of variations. The exception would be when working in a restaurant or cooking for Thai guests. Then you want to make your best efforts to create a traditional curry. If you’re just spicing up dinner for your family, go full on into this project with the spirit of exploration, not fear.
Whether stir frying or making curry paste, sauces matter when cooking your favorite asian recipes! But what can you substitute for fish sauce and shrimp paste if you’re cooking for someone who can’t have them?
If it’s your first time here, welcome to Courageous Kitchen. In our cooking classes in Bangkok, we specialize in helping guests cook their favorite Thai dishes. One of our biggest duties is helping everyone to work around any dietary restrictions they may have. Here are a few of the questions we hear most often, but if you have more, please let us know.
Does vegan fish sauce exist?
Yes, it’s called soy sauce! Soy sauce is amazing and comes in several brands and varieties. You may need to experiment some to find the ones you enjoy best, and expect brands from different countries to vary widely.
What’s the difference between light and dark soy sauce?
Light soy sauce usually refers to the most common type of soy sauce which has a thin consistency. Dark soy sauce is darker, thicker and pretty much its own beast.
Typically dark soy sauce is cloying and has a bitter after taste. Although we refer to it as ‘soy sauce’ it is mostly made of molasses. Typically to make it thick some sort of wheat flour is added which makes finding a gluten free version tough.
Is there a soy free alternative to soy sauce?
Your best soy free alternative would be using a high quality salt.
We also see coconut aminos recommended, but haven’t found them to be widely available.
Are there gluten free soy sauce options?
We are also starting to see more gluten free version of soy sauce become available. We have spotted Megachef with gluten free packaging in the US, and even in Thailand brands like the Healthy Boy Brand. With all of these purchases, be sure to check the labels. The Megachef brand is gluten free and made from non GMO soy beans. However, the gluten free Healthy Boy Brand sauce does not include wheat flour of course, but MSG (mono sodium glutamate) is included among the ingredients.
Is there a vegan alternative to shrimp paste?
If you’re buying curry paste or making your own, you may often find shrimp paste included as an ingredient. One way to replace that salty and umami taste that shrimp paste adds is to substitute in fermented soy paste or miso.
Also we are starting to see some vegetarian shrimp paste alternatives come to the market, but have not seen them widely available.
What are the best curry pastes for people with dietary restrictions?
There are so many curry pastes available on the market, so this is difficult to make a recommendation. If you can find it, we do recommend the WorldFoods Brand of curry pastes because they’re available around the world and have more than just green and red curry options. They typically meet most dietary restrictions as well, including being MSG-free, gluten free, and certified halal. However, our best suggestion is to always check the ingredients listed on the packet you find.
Of course, making your own curry paste is always the best option if you have time. Not only can you dictate which ingredients to use, we believe you’ll find a noticeable difference in the taste from the fresh spices.
What other vegan seasoning do you recommend?
We love using liquid aminos, liquid smoke, and nutritional yeast to create the meat free variations of our favorite asian and western dishes. If you stir fry often, remember you can create a premade vegan stir fry sauce to cut down on your prep time in the kitchen.
If you cook vegan food often you also always want to have great spices on hand. This means keeping your favorite fragrant dry spices like different types of pepper, star anise, and cinnamon. You’re well served to have fresh herbs like lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and shallots as well.
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Today’s recipe is a favorite, a quick Thai style green curry filled with veggies. The emphasis of this plant based recipe is to use the curry as a vehicle for nutrition. Got certain veggies the kids don’t like? Drop them in green curry paste to help change their mind.
In addition to lots of vegetable, this recipe uses healthier noodles than you typically get in Thai restaurants. We chose brown rice noodles with chia seed, but we’re seeing a great variety of interesting noodles these days in the super markets and encourage you to explore using them when you have the opportunity.
If you have time, making your own curry paste is always best, and we usually teach guests in our Bangkok cooking classes exactly how. However, today’s recipe is aimed at busy people using a curry paste packet. Grab curry packets at your local grocery store, but before you purchase, flip them over and check the ingredient list. Many curries include shrimp paste, or other meat based flavoring. There are lots of choices, but we usually recommend the Kanokwan and WorldFoods brands as good options.
Once you’ve got your curry paste and coconut milk on standby, you’re nearly ready to cook. We use fresh coconut whenever possible, but we tested this recipe with canned coconut milk because we know it is easier to find for readers outside of Thailand. So use quick version of green curry on a busy night, remembering not to stress too much about certain ingredients.
Feel free to mix and match the veggies of your choice in the green curry. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time for more dense veggies, so that everything is tender when you serve. If you already keep lots of veggies prepped in the fridge from salads and other recipes, for example cherry tomatoes, this will decrease the amount of prep time. Finally, check that you have the classic Thai seasoning ingredients such as soy sauce and palm sugar.
Thai Green Curry Recipe
Prep Time: 10-15 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Feeds: 1 – 2 people
Skill Level: Intermediate
Diets: Gluten-free, Halal, Plant Based, Vegetarian, Vegan, Nut-Free and for soy-free replace the soy sauce with salt.
Green Curry Ingredients
Curry paste 50g
Coconut Milk 1 cup
Rice Noodles 60g
Light Soy Sauce 1 tbsp
Miso 1 tsp
Palm sugar (aka coconut sugar) 2 tsp
Thai basil leaves 1 small handful
Green peppercorn 1 branch
Fingerroot 1 tbsp
Large chili – 1 fruit
Kaffir lime leaf – 2 leaves
Cherry tomato 3-4 fruit*
Orinji mushrooms 20g
Green okra 2 pieces
Micro greens 50g (we used a mix of sunflower, radish, and morning glory sprouts)
Moonflower 4 buds
Baby corn 2 cobs
Pea eggplant 5 fruit
Green Curry Instructions
Wash and prep all of your fresh veggies and herbs. You want to cut them so they cook quickly and are easy to eat. Fingerroot is not essential, but if you can find it, cut into small thin strips. Cut your cherry tomatoes in half. Julienne your okra, baby corn, and mushroom.
The protein source in this recipe is tofu. Firm tofu is best, rinse and cut into large squares.
Setup a pot of water to boil. Add your noodles when boiling. All noodles are different, refer to the instructions on the noodles you purchased for cooking time. Set a timer, rice noodles typically take 5-10 minutes once boiling. When finished strain and set aside.
Place your wok over low to medium heat and add your curry paste. Stir until fragrant, add a tablespoon of coconut milk to keep your paste from burning.
When fragrant add your most dense herbs and vegetables so they can begin cooking first. For example, pea eggplant, fingerroot, and kaffir lime leaf.
Next add your tofu, allowing it to mix with the green curry. Add more spoons of coconut milk to be sure nothing is burning, but the goal is to soften the tougher ingredients and bring out the aroma. This means a little bit of char on your tofu or veggies is fine, just be careful not to over do it, or leave your wok unattended.
When everything smells good and begins to soften, begin adding the remainder of your coconut milk, followed by the remaining veggies (except micro greens and basil). You’re in the home stretch with your curry, congrats.
Allow to simmer on medium heat while seasoning with light soy sauce, miso, and palm sugar.
If the soft veggies are suitably cooked, turn your heat off and add the handful of sweet basil and micro greens. In a pinch, Italian basil can be substituted for sweet basil. Both however, take little to no time to cook. Stir the leaves in your hot curry for a few moments until wilted.
You did it! Your nutritious Thai dinner is ready in under an hour. Pat yourself on the back while plating your noodle first, followed by gently ladling your vegetables and curry over the top.
If serving guests who are unfamiliar with the hard aromatics, like kaffir lime leaf and green peppercorn, take the liberty to remove them when plating.
Among Bangkok’s street food, you might call them the ‘traffic jam’ bananas.
And if you’ve ever been to Bangkok’s old town, you likely know exactly the sweet, deep fried, and super crispy bananas we mean. In this historic part of the city it isn’t uncommon to be at a busy intersection and see vendors selling bags of fried bananas while wading out into the oncoming traffic. Often this takes advantage of traffic already at a standstill in Bangkok, but hungry motorist can also be blamed for creating a traffic jam while lining up for fried bananas as well!
But Bangkok’s most controversial street food snack isn’t too difficult to make at home. We’ve been testing our recipe in the Courageous Kitchen, making adjustments each time, to make it easy for you to follow at home. All you need to do is gather the ingredients for your batter, and find ripe bananas.
In Thailand, the task of gathering quality bananas a bit easier thanks to the biodiversity of the banana plants grown around country. Thailand is home to nearly 30 types of banana, with many of the popular ones available in local fresh markets and grocery stores. Arriving from farms all over the country, the bananas appear in different shapes and sizes, unfamiliar to people who are used to the limited options in the West. Thais instead have the luxury of choosing between ‘kluay hom’ fragrant bananas, chubby sweet ‘nam va’ banana, and creamy ‘kluay kai’ bananas, to name a few.
Don’t worry if you don’t have many choices, and remember sweet plantains can also be used. Go for whichever bananas you can find, and prep them to fry just as they begin to ripen. Act quickly, however, because if you let them get too ripe, they may become too soft and mushy. This makes the bananas more difficult to work with and you reduce your chances of a crispy end product.
Slice your bananas long and finger length to make them easy to eat. As you slice them you can drop them into the batter and they’ll be ready to fry. Fry until golden brown, and drain. You’ll have accomplished your mission if your fried bananas are still crunchy and tasty after they have cooled down.
bananas – 1 kg of bananas (1 bunch) cooking oil – 1 liter coconut milk – 2 cups rice flour – 1 cup sticky rice flour – 1/4 cup tapioca starch – 1/2 cup sugar – 2 tbsp salt – 1 tbsp shredded coconut – 1 cup baking powder – 2 tsp white sesame – 1 tsp black sesame – 1 tsp (optional to mix white and black or 2 tsp of either will work as well) powdered sugar (optional for garnish)
Fried Banana Instructions:
Heat your oil in a deep wok or pot. The oil is ready when it is over 100 degrees celsius (210F)
Mix dry ingredients, except your shredded coconut and sesame.
Add coconut milk and whisk well. The texture shouldn’t be overly watery or dry, similar to pancake batter.
Finally, add your coconut and sesame. Spread evenly, but don’t mix thoroughly, because we want these ingredients to coat the banana as you dip them and not get stuck at the bottom of your mixing bowl.
Dredge your bananas, allowing the excess batter to fall back into the bowl. Then drop into the oil.
Cook for 3-5 minutes, flipping occasionally until golden brown.
Rest to cool and allow excess oil to run off. If desired, decorate with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Note: Keep in mind the temperature may vary for different types of oil. If your bananas are taking too long, you may want to increase the temperature.
What makes Thai fried bananas so special?
The Thai fried banana may be more unique than others you have tried around the world. This is likely because of the widespread street food culture, and the availability of fresh ingredients. The best vendors in Bangkok, along with having a great selection of flavorful banana species, likely also utilize fresh shredded coconut and fresh coconut milk in their frying batter.
The ingredients add to the fragrance of the snack, and lend some stretchy density to the crust in each bite. The snack holds up, retaining it’s crunch even long after being removed from your frying pan or wok. In our cooking classes, this means guests can pair the fried banana with ice cream, or if they’re super full take them home and enjoy them later.
What if I don’t have the shredded coconut?
You can make this recipe without the coconut, but coconut lends both fragrance and texture to the snack. We used fresh shredded coconut, but understand most people may only be able to find dehydrated coconut flakes.
The bananas will cook a lot faster without the coconut in the batter. So pay attention to them while they’re in the oil, and adjust the cooking time as needed.
What can I do with the leftover batter?
We have used the same batter to fry mushrooms, chili, sweet potato, and pumpkin. If you have more veggies or fruit you want to give a whirl while your oil is hot, give it a try! However, since it’s is coconut milk based it usually does not last long, nor does it reheat well. For these reasons when there’s leftover batter, we make the most of it by frying up whatever we have in the fridge. For more savory vegetables, enjoy them with sriracha or the spicy hot sauce of your choice.
Why is this Bangkok’s most controversial street food snack?
In a city where you can find deep fried scorpions on a stick, it may be a shock to learn Bangkok’s most controversial street food is also one that’s easy to eat. However, people’s affection for the street food bananas, and how portable they are, definitely factor into all of the hype and controversy you may not have known about if you live outside of Bangkok.
For years the local city municipalities have tried to end the practice of walking into traffic to sell the bananas. This happens at big intersections in old town, and at the traffic light in front of Bangkok’s Nung Lerng Market.
For the most part, in the public eye and even with authorities like the Thai Royal Police who are tasked with enforcing rules against such vending, opposition to the sales have been mixed. Police have been known to feign enforcement, only to work out a separate deal with the vendors themselves (with a few free bags of fried bananas thrown in we’re sure).
However, the tide may finally be turning as street food everywhere in Bangkok has taken a hit since government crackdowns began in 2018. More enforcement from the government means fewer spaces to vend, and more intense competition with nearby competitors, displacing some vendors and eventually driving others out of business. Like all vendors around the city, even those who could be considered the most menacing are facing an uncertain future over the next few years.
One of our favorite recipes, is the super savory and crispy Vietnamese Banh Xeo. A popular street food snack in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, the yellow tinted crepe has gained popularity throughout many Southeast Asian countries because it can be a cost effective way to feed a big family. This makes it a great recipe for use to teach, as we reach out to families in need in Bangkok.
“I grew up in Vietnam, but we lived in a remote village in the countryside. I never had a chance to have banh xeo until learning to cook with Christy. I can’t wait to try making it for my family.” – Alina, CK Trainee
Just like Alina, there are lots of people who may not have had the joy of enjoying these deliciously crispy crepes. They are more fragile and more deeply savory when compared to western crepes. To master the perfect crunch, you need to steam a thin layer of batter until golden brown and it naturally releases from your pan.
However, the real fun part begins when you see what’s inside. Typically bahn xeo can be stuffed with a choice of chicken, shrimp, ground pork, and bean sprouts. But there’s not reason they can’t be vegan, gluten free, or cooked with whatever ingredients you have in the fridge.
Enjoy Christy and Alina’s rendition of the renowned sizzling crepe below. Remember you can request this dish in our charitable cooking classes, and the proceeds from your cooking class and donations will help us to teach and train more young people to be leaders in the kitchen, and their community like Alina.
Banh Xeo Recipe
Recipe by Christy Innouvong & Alina Xiong
Yields: 10-12 crepes
2 cups soda water
1 bunch of green onion, chopped into centimeter pieces (aka scallion, roughly about 200g)
125 ml of coconut milk (a tap more than half a cup)
140 grams rice flour
1-2 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
200g shredded chicken breast or protein of your choice
Tip: Some versions call for you to stir fry your protein with a tbsp of garlic and onion. This is optional.
Just be sure you cook your filler protein in advance, so you don’t need to overcook your crepe while waiting on the meat to finish cooking.
1 carrot, shredded thinly
300g bean sprouts
Veggies for Wrapping (optional)
You’ll want to wash all your leafy greens well because you will eat them raw. Be sure to leave some extra time for removing them from the stem if needed.
1 bunch of Vietnamese mustard greens
Tip: This can be hard to find. Substitute Vietnamese coriander, perilla leaf, or heart leaf if possible.
1 bunch of mint
1 bunch of cilantro
1 head of romaine or similarly leafy lettuce for wrapping
Vietnamese Dipping sauce
Nuoc cham (pronounced NEW-uk jham) aka Vietnamese dipping sauce is traditionally poured over each crepe, or alternatively used for dipping bites of your banh xeo or fried egg rolls.
Here’s a simple recipe for nuoc cham:
1/2 cup of soda water
1/3 cup of fish sauce
1/4 cup of vinegar
3 tbsp of white sugar
2 tbsp of lime juice
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 spicy red chili chopped
Prepare Your Batter
Combine all batter ingredients except scallions in a large mixing bowl for at least 30 minutes before cooking. You can leave refrigerated up to one night before cooking. Add scallions only right before making the crêpes.
Prepare Your Filling
Cook your protein and slice or shred small, so it can easily be eaten when biting into the crepe.
Wash bean sprouts and leafy greens. Keep your leafy greens large and intact, they will be used to wrap bites of your stuffed crepes.
Making the Banh Xeo Crepe (Each takes approx. 5-7 mins)
In a skillet, heat to medium and then turn the heat to low. This is important because if the skillet is too hot, it will burn your crepe before it is fully cooked. Brush some cooking oil (a teaspoon will do) on your skillet and add your batter (approximate ½ a cup). You can pick up the pan and tilt so that the batter covers the entire skillet.
Tip: If you add too much batter, simply pour the excess back into your batter bowl.
Add a little bit more batter if it wasn’t enough to cover the pan, but to achieve a thin, crisp omelette the less batter the better. Add your filling ingredients and cover for 4-5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, the bean sprouts should appear slightly cooked and the batter should also be transparent and crispy around the edges. You can brush a touch of oil around the edges to help lift your crepe.
Remove the lid and fold in half (omelette style), transfer to a plate and serve immediately with greens and dipping sauce on the side.
How to Eat Banh Xeo
Roughly tear your fresh herbs and place on top or inside of crepe. Generally people will chop the crepe in several pieces and eat inside of the large leaves as a wrap. Decide whether you prefer the leaf wrap version, or just want to eat it like a taco. Whatever you choose, be sure to drizzle your nuoc cham sauce over the entire banh xeo crepe. Enjoy!