Though last year in 2011 I ate vegetarian for the entire nine days, this year during the festival I only ate vegetarian for one day.
But even though I didn’t commit to the vegetarian cleanse in 2012, I did have a few vegetarian meals and also went to Yaowarat Chinatown one day for some exploration (I you missed the vegetarian festival videos, watch them here).
Pictured below are a few of my favorite vegetarian Thai food dishes I ate in 2012 during the annual Thailand Vegetarian Festival 2012.
1. Vegetarian Salad
A nice little bagged street salad that included lettuce, cucumber slices, tomatoes, thin slices of tofu, and a half of a boiled egg. The highlight was the peanut chili dressing which was absolutely excellent.
2. Spring Rolls
From the songthaew spring roll truck, these glass noodle stuffed deep fried springs rolls were fresh and crispy.
3. Stir Fried Melon Leaves
Yord mara (or melon leaves), is one of my favorite vegetables in the world, even when it’s not the vegetarian festival. One night for dinner I enjoyed an all jay meal that included this marvelous plate of melon leaves stir fried with little pebbles of protein.
4. Glass Noodle Salad
The vegetarian version of yam woon sen is alright, but I’ll have to say that it doesn’t work too well as a vegetarian dish. Perhaps it’s because of all the rubbery squid and shrimp that I wasn’t overly impressed. I’m a bit more of a fan of the yam woon sen at Rod Ded that includes genuine seafood and pork.
5. Stir Fried Glass Noodles
Mixed with cabbage and mushrooms and flavored with soy sauce, the pad woon sen stir fried version of glass noodles were fantastic.
6. Pad Mee Leung Jay
I’m not sure exaclty what these noodles are made from, but they are specifically created for the vegetarian festival and known and yellow jay noodles.
Stir fried with assorted vegetables and garnished with chili flakes and a few spoons of vinegar, this plate of pad mee leung went down nicely.
7. Stewed Cabbage
One of my favorite plain tasting Thai vegetarian dishes is stewed cabbage. The cabbage is boiled so long, it actually melts in your mouth when you eat it – it falls aparts like baby food. Over rice, it’s incredibly comforting.
8. Stewed Tofu and Bean Curd
Being half Chinese and having spent some time in China eating ma la tong, for as long as I can remember I’ve been a fan of bean curd known in Cantonese as “foo jook.”
Mixed with tofu, the foo jook was in a salty broth that tasted a little cinnamony and really flavorful. This was one of my favorite dishes during the festival.
9. Tam Ponlamai – Thai Fruit Salad
I’ve always enjoyed som tam ponlamai, the mixed fruit version of green papaya salad. Something about spicy, peanut laced chunks of guava, apple, and pineapple is so attractive and so taste bud awakening.
10. Pad Kra Pao Tao Hoo
Of course, a normal Thai basil chicken is one of the more common and widely available dishes in Bangkok, but during the vegetarian festival, it’s possible to order it with tofu instead. The tofu was firm, almost like Indian paneer cheese rather than the soft egg tofu as is common in Thailand.
Stir fried with fragrant holy basil and chillies, this was a vegetarian winner!
11. Ewkuay – Deep Fried Dumpling
Known as ewkuay, these little dumplings were very similar to Korean hotteok, but in different shape. The wrapper is a glutinous rice flour that becomes extremely crunchy on the outside yet a little sticky and gooey at the same time. Within the ballon shaped dumpling was a vegetable medley of cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms.
12. Peanut Candy
If you watched the vegetarian festival videos, you probably remember the two guys alternating hits with big wooden hammers to crush the peanuts.
The result is a candy that tastes remarkably similar to a nutty Butterfinger candy bar. It’s sweet, and though I can only handle a few nibbles (because of its sweetness), it really is fresh and good.
13. Durian Mooncake
Ok, the durian mooncake wasn’t actually part of the Thai vegetarian festival, but I did eat it during the festival, and it is vegetarian so I decided I’d include it on this list.
As soon as I sliced this baby open, it released an aroma of glory that filled my apartment. It was rich, thick like a durian fruit roll-up, and with a cup of coffee, it was insanely good!
So that wraps things up for this year, that was the extent of my vegetarian dining.