If you’ve ever visited a Thai food restaurant, chances are you’ve gotten completely hooked on the complex, spicy and just plain delicious flavors. During college, my friends and I would make Friday nights Thai food night and chow down on so much Pad Thai we could barely walk. Now, I’ve adapted and gathered Thai recipes to prepare for my own family. Here are a few that are quick, easy and budget friendly that any cook can put together for a memorable meal.
If you’ve never tried Thai food before, Pad Thai is the first dish you should prepare. It’s easy, delicious and its one that really gives a good introduction to a wide array of tasty dishes. Pad Thai is basically stir fried noodles. The recipe has many substitutions, such as swapping meat for tofu, and you can skip the eggs if you have an allergy. You can also omit the nuts and soy sauce. You can even use grain noodles instead of rice noodles if you can’t find rice noodles at your local grocery store.
Easy Pad Thai
1 package rice noodles
2 small cans chicken breast or 2 prepared breasts
1 shallot or small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped or 1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp black pepper
¼ cup of vegetable or peanut oil
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
½ cup salted peanuts, chopped
2 tsp chopped cilantro
You can also add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
Boil your noodles until they’re slightly softened
Heat enough oil in a skillet until it starts to become shiny
Add the garlic, chicken and shallot to the pan and start heating until the shallot becomes translucent
Making a well in the center of the chicken mixture, crack eggs into pan and begin cooking
After the eggs begin to scramble, add pepper, sugar, soy sauce and vinegar then add the noodles and stir to combine
Plate the dish and top with nuts and cilantro. Serves 3-4 adults
This dish is a favorite fast dinner for me and my family on busy nights. You can also add hot sauce, like sriracha on the side if you want to get the true Thai heat.
Thai curry is another favorite of mine as I enjoy rich flavors but don’t want to spend a long time over the stove. I also enjoy a lot of heat in my food so I add a lot extra curry powder. To adjust the flavor for kids, make a portion that skips the spicy curry powder and serve with soy sauce instead. This dish is a fun way to get your kids to eat some veggies in a new way. If you can’t find curry powder, cayenne pepper will give you the kick you want. You an also use brown or white rice, depending on your nutritional needs. You can also omit the peanut butter if you have a nut allergy.
Thai Style Curry
½ onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp oil
½ cup green and red bell peppers
2 small zucchini or squash, finely diced
½ cup carrots, diced
2-3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 cup tomato sauce
¼ cup fresh cilantro
1 can chickpeas, drained
4 cups prepared white or brown rice.
Add carrots, onion, garlic,peppers and oil in a large sauce pan or deep frying pan and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
Add zucchini or squash, then cover for 5-7 minutes until slightly tender.
Pour in the tomato sauce, peanut butter, curry powder into a food processor and blend until smooth, adding oil if too dry.
Add the chickpeas to the pan with the veggies and pour the sauce on top. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until hot
Pour the mixture over rice and eat! Serves 4 adults
This meal also freezes well and can be made a head of time. If you have picky kids, you can blend all the cooked veggies into the sauce so they don’t even know they’re there.
Soup is one of my favorite meals on rainy days and it is a snap to make a Thai inspired soup. Soup is easy to freeze and pack in lunches, so you can get a lot of mileage out of one meal. Soup is also very cost effective and can feed a lot of hungry mouths on a budget. I modified this recipe to be gluten free because I am gluten sensitive. You can also skip the shrimp if you are allergic to shellfish or want to save a little more cash and add chicken instead.
Gluten Free Thai Soup
12 ounces coconut milk
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp chili paste
2 cloves garlic or 1 tbsp mined garlic
1 ½ pounds of cooked shrimp or pre-cooked chicken
1 tbsp gluten free cornstarch
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 small can diced mushrooms
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Add coconut milk, chili paste and ginger in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add cornstarch and lower to a simmer
Combine tomatoes, soy sauce and lemon juice in a bowl then add to the coconut milk mixture
Add the chicken or shrimp and heat until the meat is heated through
Top with cilantro and serve. Serves 4-5 adults
Once you’ve tried one of these Thai treats, I know you will want to try more. A cuisine I tried on a whim in college became a staple in my own home and fits nicely into my budget. All of the recipes take less than a half an hour to prepare, so they are great for your nights on the run but still want a nutritious meal. Be sure to refrigerate or freeze your leftovers within an hour, that is, if there are any leftovers.