All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016
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I live very close to the area in LA called Thai Town (Hollywood Blvd – essentially – east of Western). It is an incredible resource for Thai & other Asian ingredients – like canned jackfruit, every manner of noodle & rice & some exotic spices. The other day, at my favorite Thai market, Bangluck, I spotted these guys here:
Vegetarian pork, duck & generic meat – in cans – for just over a dollar each. The photos are not so appetizing but I could not resist trying them. For whatever reason – I got two cans of the pork & decided to try them out today in this Thai dish. Apparently, authentic Pad Ga Prao Muu uses only the Thai Holy (or hot) basil but I dd not have enough of that so I added some sweet Thai basil. Here is how they look (holy/hot basil on top & Thai/sweet basil below with the purple flowers:
The holy basil has serrated edges & the sweet basil does not. They really do smell & taste very different but, I think, only a true aficionado of Thai food would know or care about the difference. I used both & I was very pleased with the result.
Even more exciting – the canned pork! Seitan, really. Here are the details:
Drained, it did not smell or taste funky. AT ALL. And even kinda looks like pork. Any seitan would work for this recipe – stuff from your health food store or Whole Foods or homemade. I posted some recipes with a recipe for seitan HERE. The advantage o this canned stuff is shelf-life and COST! It is so cheap & easy! If you don’t have Asian grocers near you, the canned stuff is available online HERE. I will report on the other two cans of stuff when I think of what to do with them.
As to this dish – crazy easy & outrageously delicious. I like my food genuinely spicy so – if you do not – be sure to adjust the hot elements to suit your taste.
The seitan pork, though? Totally convincing! I think you could serve this dish to a meat eater & they would not question it. You might want to call it chicken, if you have a real skeptic on your hands, because pork tends to be chewier than chicken but – whatever you decide – this will look like meat & taste like meat. This recipe is killer! And once your ingredients are prepped – it takes about 10 minutes. EASY!
Easy Vegan Thai Minced Pork with Holy (& Sweet) Basil – Pad Ga Prao Muu – in Lettuce Cups
20 oz (or so) seitan (or enough for 2 portions)
2 TBS coconut or olive oil
2 packed cups fresh Holy/hot and/or Thai/sweet basil
1-10 cloves garlic – chopped
2 shallots (or one small onion) – diced
4 red scallions (OPTIONAL! I only used these because I had them) – sliced (bottoms only)
1 red bell pepper – seeded & sliced
1 cup carrots – matchsticks or sliced
1-10 red/green Thai chilies – split (I used 10 & this was very spicy)
1 serrano chili – diced (very optional)
2-3 TBS vegetarian oyster or mushroom sauce
3 TBS liquid aminos or low sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp dark soy sauce (optional)
1 tsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) OR 2 tsp brown sugar
Lettuce leaves for cups (I used romaine but butter lettuce is nice, too)
GARNISH – lime wedges, cooked rice
Prep everything because this comes together fast. Whisk the liquid ingredients (oyster sauce, soy sauces) together.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the shallots, chilies, scallions (if using), red bell, and carrots. Saute until the peppers & carrots soften (maybe 5 minutes).
Add the seitan & heat through. Add the garlic & saute one minute. Add the liquids & combine. Stir in the basil & once it wilts – you are ready to serve.
Serve in lettuce cups or with rice & garnish with lime wedges.