Our Vegan Khao Pad and Vegan Nam Pla Prik are really simple recipes inspired by our travels to Thailand and our passion for Thai cuisine. This straightforward vegan Thai fried rice (Vegan Khao Pad) can easily be adapted to suit your tastes and is ultimately a satisfying dish to prepare and eat. When served with Vegan Nam Pla Prik, some slices of fresh cucumber and wedges of lime, there’s a simplicity and balance that makes this one of our favorite meals.
Khao Pad is a classic dish from the Chinese Thai community and has become a staple in the restaurants and streets of Thailand. Our Vegan Khao Pad uses readily available ingredients so the dish can be made just about anywhere, but is still best when prepared in a wok. Along with a wok, you will want a mortar and pestle for this recipe. If you don’t already have a mortar and pestle, then we recommend getting one since it’s one of the most useful tools for a wide range of cuisines.
For the rice, you will want to use Thai jasmine rice – a fragrant long grain rice from Thailand. For Vegan Khao Pad your rice should be cooked a few hours ahead of time and left out to cool. If the rice is too warm it will be gummy or sticky when it’s fried. If your rice is too cold it can clump and force you to break the grains when frying. We don’t advise storing your cooked rice in the refrigerator between cooking and frying but do recommend cooking the rice in advance and leaving it to cool for at least two hours, but as long as overnight works well in our opinion.
For the Vegan Nam Pla Prik; a spicy, sour, pungent, salty condiment that uses fish sauce in its non-vegan form, you could either use our brilliant vegan fish sauce or bottled vegetarian fish sauce as the base. Vegetarian fish sauce can be found in Asian markets but more frequently those which feature Southeast Asian products. Don’t be concerned if the vegetarian fish sauce you find at your local Asian market contains MSG, that only makes it better.
Vegan Khao Pad (Thai Fried Rice)
Yield: 2-3 servings
Vegan Nam Pla Prik
- 3-4 fresh or frozen Thai chilies, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced or grated
- 45ml vegetarian fish sauce or our recipe
- 60ml fresh lime juice
- 2 tsp white or palm sugar
- 670g (~4 cups) day-old cooked white Jasmine rice*
- 5-6 garlic cloves, peeled (20g)
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 180g (6 oz) super firm tofu, cut into ½” cubes and fried*
- 60g shiitake and/or oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 30g cilantro, large stems removed, coarsely chopped
- 30g scallions, green and white, chopped
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce, preferably Pearl River Bridge*
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp white sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ English cucumber, cut in ¼” slices
- 2 limes, cut into 4-6 wedges
To prepare the Vegan Nam Pla Prik, mix the ingredients in a small jar until the sugar dissolves. Serve immediately or store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
To prepare the Vegan Khao Pad (Thai Fried Rice). Using a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic cloves and ½ tsp kosher salt into a fine garlic paste. Set aside. The salt helps draw more flavor from the garlic and is an essential element for a tasty dish.
Make sure to separate your rice, breaking up any large clumps using a non-stick spatula (or shamoji) or by hand before frying and have all your ingredients ready to go before the wok is on the flame. If you are using fried tofu, fry in advance.
Place a wok or cast-iron pan over high heat until a drop of water evaporates a second or two of contact. Add 3 tbsp oil, swirling to coat the sides. Lower the heat to medium to prevent the oil from spitting. Once hot, stir-fry the garlic-salt mixture for 10-20 seconds until fragrant but avoid burning. Add the mushrooms, stirring frequently until golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the rice in small batches and fold in until the oil coats the grains. Add the light soy sauce, white pepper, sugar and salt. Cook, stirring until well combined, 1-2 minutes. Add the tofu, scallions and cilantro and stir-fry for another 3-4 minutes until all the ingredients are well combined and the rice is hot.
Serve immediately with sliced cucumber, lime wedges and the optional cilantro leaves. Don’t forget the condiment Vegan Nam Pla Prik or simply squeeze a lime wedge atop of the fried rice for a nice punch.
Jasmine rice: If using a rice cooker (we use Zojirushi), use 2 rice cooker cups and follow their instructions to cook the rice. 1 rice cooker cup is 180 ml, not the same as a conventional 1 cup measurement (240ml). If you are cooking rice on the stove, use 300g of uncooked jasmine rice. The weight of the cooked rice will be about 670g.
Make sure you rinse the rice several times until water runs clear and drain completely before cooking. Day-old rice is best in Chinese/Thai wok fried dishes. After cooking, leave it at room temperature covered with a towel throughout the day or overnight. If you are short on time you can cook your rice and when fully cooked remove from the heat and spread on a plate. Allow the rice to cool completely and the moisture to evaporite. We recommend leaving it for at least two hours before preparing the Vegan Khao Pad.
Super firm tofu: We use Trader Joe’s High Protein Organic Super Firm Tofu, Wildwood High Protein/Super Firm Tofu or Soyganic Extra Firm Tofu for this dish. These tofus are firm enough that they do not require pressing and are not packed in water. If you cannot find such tofu, press your tofu in advance. You can choose to fry them or not, but we like them fried for added texture. Fry in the wok until golden and aside before making the Vegan Khao Pad.
Light soy sauce: Light soy sauce is not the same as low sodium soy sauce. Light soy sauce is the saltier, slightly sweeter and thinner version of soy sauce and a crucial ingredient in Thai/Chinese cooking. It is also sometimes known as white soy sauce. We use Pearl River Bridge light soy sauce.
Advance preparation: The Vegan Nam Pla Prik can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and can be served with any rice dish or fried appetizers. The Vegan Khao Pad is best fresh or leftover the following day.