Cookbook Challenge 2 - Appetite for Reduction

Lately I've been craving the lightly prepared stong aromatic dishes native to Thailand. For my birthday, Matt and I ate at Rama Restaurant, a whole-in-the-wall  serving up some of the finest Thai food (as far as I know) in Baton Rouge. The slow service was easily overshadowed by the fragrant and spicy meals we ordered. Fried veggies - eggplant, yams, green peppers, green beans, potatoes, onions - with sweet and sour sauce (not exactly authentic, I know) stimulated our tastebuds and appetites for two tasty, albeit oily, Thai entrees.

cellphone porn!
left to right: veggie pad thai, panang tofu, fried veggies

Matt ordered the Veggie Pad Thai sans egg as usual. This fish-free variation was so light and fresh, we damn near inhaled the entire plate (by the way, the portion-to-prices ratio at Rama is amazing; two people could easily share one plate..unless you're either one of us)! Any extra room in our mouths and bellies was quickly filled with my entree, Panang Tofu. Green beans and mushrooms were the main contenders in this warm and spicy coconut curry dish, along with copious amounts of fried tofu! So...Thai food...isn't it amazing? Yeah, I know; I know.

Cookbook Challenge II - Appetite for Reduction

My greatest qualm with dining out, especially at Asian/Indian establishments, is the amount of oil used by the restaurant chefs. I can't consciously dine out often for this reason alone. It's a bittersweet scenario, actually. The openhanded oil applications force me to make my own renditions of these aromatic appetizers, and while they may not be authentic, they are certainly satisfying.

This is where Appetite for Reduction is plugged in. As I flipped through the already slightly tarnished pages (I'm a bit of a messy cook...) I noted several Thai-inspired recipes that I would have to make. The first thing to catch my eye was the Pad Thai salad with Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing. The dressing was a sweet, spicy and tangy combination of ground peanuts (for which I substituted crunchy peanut butter), sriracha, lime juice and a few other things I'll just call delicious. I added sauteed tempeh cooked with tamari (a great gluten-free alternative to soy sauce) and omitted the red onion because I didn't have one.

Pad Thai Salad and Crispy Tamari Tempeh with Peanut-Lime Dragon Dressing
Did I mention that AFR has an entire chapter devoted to bowls (and sandwiches, but they deserve their own thrown)?! Using the remaining Peanut-Lime Dragon dressing, I made the Peanut-Lime Tempeh Bowl, which consisted of fluffy quinoa, steamed broccoli, more tamari tempeh and the dressing. I jazzes it up with sauteed bean sprouts and alfafa sprouts for an amazingly filling and insanely delicious dinner.

Peanut-Lime Tempeh Bowl
This next Thai-inspired dish was featured in my post about tofu, but who's going to argue with me? I think it deserves another fifteen minutes of fame. Ladies and gentlemen, Red Thai Tofu...

Red Thai Tofu and Green Beans with (not) Thai Basil
No, I didn't use Thai basil, and I thought of adding fennel or dried mint to give it the cool depth I notice in Thai basil, but I didn't want to stray too far from the actual recipe. Crispy tofu, spicy red Thai curry, sriracha, ginger and garlic all go great together. Add some sauteed green beans dusted with red pepper flakes and a squirt of lime and you're in business. I have no negative critique other than I wish I had more, and right now please.

In fact, I think I need to go pick up some tofu and lock myself in the kitchen. Until next time...


  1. Love your pictures! I need to make that Pad Thai salad.

  2. @Jackie Smith (the other one): Thanks! You must make the salad. The dressing, like most Ive made from AFR, is superb!

  3. Barbara1/27/2011

    Your dishes sure are beautiful and I can just imagine a wall of these photos in a kitchen or dining room decor.

  4. @Barbara: Thanks! I like imagining kitchens covered in vegan food, too :)