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The Universal Vegetable Recipe

Michael Babcock, June 13th, 2011

One of Kasma’s recipes is what I think of as “The Universal Vegetable Recipe.” It can be used for nearly any vegetable of your choice and come out delicious. Let’s call it “Oyster Sauce Vegetables” because the most important ingredient is the oyster sauce. The important thing to remember is that you need a really good oyster sauce and a really good fish sauce; and the fresher the vegetables, the better!

Dragonfly Oyster Sauces

Premium & Super Premium Oyster Sauce

There’s only one brand of oyster sauce that Kasma recommends and it is the Dragonfly brand. We have no affiliation at all with this brand. We just like it. Dragonfly makes three different kinds: 1) Dragonfly Oyster Sauce; 2) Dragonfly Premium Flavored Oyster Sauce; and 3) Dragonfly Super Premium Flavored Oyster Sauce. We like the product for two reasons: 1) It has no additives or preservatives; 2) It is the best tasting brand we’ve found.

Click on photos to see a larger image.

Oyster Sauce Snap Peas

Oyster Sauce Snap Peas

A few years ago nearly all the Thai food manufacturers began adding preservatives and other additives to their products, which tasted and lasted just fine without them. Suddenly our Roasted Chili paste (nam prik pao) had food coloring and msg for no good reason – it was fine before. Our preferred oyster sauce suddenly had sodium benzoate. It was at that point that we decided to try the Dragonfly brand when we saw it in one of the local markets and it had no additives. The ingredients were (and are) oyster extract, sugar, soy sauce, salt and corn starch.

Initially we used the plain Dragonfly Oyster Sauce. Then we decided that we should try the Super Premium Flavored Oyster Sauce, though we had no intention of using it because it was more expensive. After we used it once we were sold – it’s the oyster sauce we recommend.

If you can’t use the Dragonfly brand, use the other Thai brand that’s readily available – Mae Krua. It, at least, doesn’t have msg. I don’t like the Chinese brands as well; they taste sweeter and less flavorful to me and most of them contain MSG.

For fish sauce, Kasma’s preferred brands are Golden Boy Fish sauce and Tra Chang. You can check out pictures of these fish sauces and information on Kasma’s other favorite brands on her favorite brands page.

Oyster Sauce Broccoli

Oyster Sauce Broccoli

This recipe comes from Kasma, of course. She teaches a version of it in the second class of her beginning Thai cooking series as Stir-fried Broccoli with Thai Oyster Sauce (Broccoli Pad Nam Man Hoi). Nam man hoi is Thai for oyster sauce.

By the way, this blog is my interpretation of Kasma’s recipe. All credit goes to her. Any shortcomings in this blog are mine alone.

First I’ll give the basic, 5-ingredient recipe (a 6th is optional) followed by a brief slide-show of the dish being cooked. Continue scrolling down to see the recipe with variations (adding ground pork/chicken, shrimp or mushrooms) with its own slideshow.


Universal Vegetable Recipe – The Short Version

Ingredients

  • Oil or fat of your choice; we recommend duck fat or lard
  • Garlic, chopped, as much as you like
  • Vegetable of your choice, as much as you like, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • Oyster sauce, to taste (Dragonfly Brand Super Premium Flavored brand is best)
  • Fish sauce, to taste (we recommend Golden Boy or Tra Chang brands)
  • Ground white pepper is optional

The Recipe

Heat wok until smoking hot, add oil/fat (let melt, if fat), add chopped garlic, stir briefly, add vegetable, cook for awhile, stirring occasionally, then add oyster sauce & fish sauce to taste; if necessary (to prevent burning) add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water; cook to desire degree of doneness. If desired, sprinkle in some ground white pepper at the end.

Notes

Oyster Sauce Cauliflower

Oyster Sauce Cauliflower

If you feel you must, you can use Kasma’s recipe Stir-fried Asparagus, Oyster Mushrooms and Shrimp in Oyster Sauce Recipe – Naw-mai Farang Pad Nam Man Hoi to get an idea of how much of each ingredient to use; or look at Stir-fried Chive Flower Buds with Shrimp and Oyster Mushrooms (Pad Dawk Goochai Gkoong Hed Hoi Nahnglom).

I recommend duck fat for stir-frying. It adds a very delicious flavor. Chicken fat or goose fat would work. Also lard. If you can’t get those, I’d recommend peanut oil. One reason I like duck fat is because if I use too much, I really don’t mind because it tastes so good without tasting greasy. The polyunsaturated oils such as soy, canola, corn and sunflower will tend to make it taste very oily if you use too much.

Cooking time can vary greatly depending on the vegetable. For instance, an Asian green such as bok choy or tat choi will cook very quickly – within a couple of minutes. Cauliflower might take up to 10 minutes to cook, depending on the size of the pieces. With the longer cooking vegetables, plan on splashing in a little bit of water if the mixture starts to burn or stick to the wok; you can also cover the wok to help it cook faster. Depending on how much water you put in, you can also add a bit more oyster sauce and fish sauce, to taste (of course).

Oil/Fat: I think most people tend to use a a bit too little fat or oil; be aware of that tendency. If the vegetable starts to stick to the pan or burn in the cooking process, you can splash in a bit of water. Don’t be afraid of the animal fats. They are the best for stir-frying. Remember that all fats and oils are a combination of saturated, monounsaturated fat (the predominant fat in olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats. Lard, for instance, contains a bit more monounsaturated fat than saturated fat and a small amount of polyunsaturated fats. For frying, saturated fats are actually preferred: monounsaturated fats and (especially) polyunsaturated fats tend to oxidize under high heat, causing free radicals that are implicated in aging. (See the article Fatty Acid Peroxidation & Free Radicals by Greg Watson.) For more information on fats and oils, see my previous blog on A “Healthy Diet”.

Oyster Sauce Vegetables

Made with Asian greens and mushrooms

Garlic: With garlic, try using a bit more than looks comfortable to you. Add an extra clove or two. I love lots of garlic. Give it a try.

Vegetable: What do you like? Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choi, snap peas, sugar peas, tat choi (an Asian vegetable), bok choi, Chinese broccoli (kanah in Thai), asparagus, green beans, chard, kale, collards, mustard greens . . .. Just about anything you like. Be aware that different vegetables have different cooking times. So maybe the first time, you overcook it a little. No problem, just remember what you’ve done: cook it less next time. With some longer-cooking vegetables you may need to add a little bit of water if the vegetables start to stick to the wok or burn – if that happens, just splash in some water. You can always add a bit more oyster sauce and make more of a sauce for the dish.

Oyster Sauce: How much you add will depend on a few things. Which brand are you using and how strong is it; whether you intend to eat “Thai-style” with a lot of rice, in which case you can make the dish more heavily flavored, and; personal taste preference. Taste as you go. Start out by adding a tablespoon or two; stir; taste. Add more if you’d like.

Fish Sauce: Has the same considerations as with oyster sauce, above. How salty do you like it?


Basic Recipe Slide Show

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.
Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

Recipe Ingredients
Asian Greens
Garlic in Wok
Vegetables Added
Oyster Sauce Added
Stirring the Vegetables
Almost Done
Ready to Eat

These are the basic 5 ingredients for Oyster Sauce Vegetables

Asian greens, ready for stir-frying

Cooking the garlic briefly in heated oil

The vegetables have been added to the garlic & oil

The oyster sauce has been added to the dish

Stirring the oyster sauce into the vegetables

Oyster sauce and fish sauce are thoroughly mixed in

Oyster sauce Asian vegetables, ready to eat!

Recipe Ingredients thumbnail
Asian Greens thumbnail
Garlic in Wok thumbnail
Vegetables Added thumbnail
Oyster Sauce Added thumbnail
Stirring the Vegetables thumbnail
Almost Done thumbnail
Ready to Eat thumbnail

Universal Vegetable Recipe – Variations

Snap Peas & Shrimp

Snap peas, with shrimp and mushrooms

In addition to the basic 5 ingredients you can also add:

  • Ground pork or chicken: Add right after the garlic and cook it pretty much all the way through before adding the vegetables.
  • Shrimp: Add right after the garlic, stir-fry 15-20 seconds, or until the shrimp starts to turn pink, then add the vegetables.
  • Mushrooms: When to add depends on type of mushroom and how well you like them cooked. If you want the mushroom to absorb more oil and garlic flavor, add right after the garlic or after the meat. Otherwise, add them after the vegetables are partially cooked or even at the same time as the vegetables. For longer cooking vegetables, add a bit later.

Recipe with Variations Slide Show

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.
Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

Note: This recipe uses an Asian green called “tat choi” with oyster mushrooms and ground pork.

Smoking Wok
Stir-frying Garlic
Adding Pork
Stirring the Pork
Cooking Pork
Adding the Mushrooms
Cooking the Dish
More Cooking
Adding the Greens
Stirring Everything Up
Continuing to Cook
Adding Oyster Sauce
Stirring in the Sauce
Continuing to Cook
Adding the Fish Sauce
Almost Complete
Dish Ready to Eat
Oyster Sauce Tat Choi
Oyster Sauce Tat Choi 2

This smoking-hot wok is ready to receive the lard

Adding the garlic to the hot lard

Next the ground pork is added

Next the pork is broken up for cooking

Continuing to cook the ground pork

Next the (oyster) mushrooms are added

Stir-frying the garlic, pork & mushrooms

Here the pork is getting nicely browned, ready for the next step

Here the tat choi (an Asian Green) has just been added

Here Kasma is stirring everything together

Continuing to cook the dish

Here Kasma adds the oyster sauce direct from the bottle

Stirring the oyster sauce so it's evenly distrbuted

Continuing to stir-fry the mixture

Kasma adds the (Golden Boy) fish sauce - to taste.

This dish is pretty much ready to serve

The Oyster Sauce Tat Choi, plated, ready to serve

Here's another view of the dish, ready to serve

One final close-up

Smoking Wok thumbnail
Stir-frying Garlic thumbnail
Adding Pork thumbnail
Stirring the Pork thumbnail
Cooking Pork thumbnail
Adding the Mushrooms thumbnail
Cooking the Dish thumbnail
More Cooking thumbnail
Adding the Greens thumbnail
Stirring Everything Up thumbnail
Continuing to Cook thumbnail
Adding Oyster Sauce thumbnail
Stirring in the Sauce thumbnail
Continuing to Cook thumbnail
Adding the Fish Sauce thumbnail
Almost Complete thumbnail
Dish Ready to Eat thumbnail
Oyster Sauce Tat Choi thumbnail
Oyster Sauce Tat Choi 2 thumbnail


Play with the recipe!

I’ve already written a couple times on cooking and Thai recipes.

Oyster Sauce Vegetables

Asparagus, mushrooms & shrimp

In this case, I’d encourage you play around with quantities and cooking times. The first time you cook the recipe, you might want to use Kasma’s more complicated variation of the recipe on our website as a guide for quantities- Stir-fried Asparagus, Oyster Mushrooms and Shrimp in Oyster Sauce Recipe – Naw-mai Farang Pad Nam Man Hoi. On the other hand, you don’t need it and I encourage you to try what you think might work. Make the recipe your own.


Written by Michael Babcock, June 2011

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3 Responses to “The Universal Vegetable Recipe”

  1. […] To the right we see one of our favorite vegetable dishes Stir-fried Vegetables with Oyster Sauce – ผักผัดน้ำมันหอย (Pad Pak Nam Mon Hoi), what I think of as The Universal Vegetable Recipe. […]

  2. brett says:

    what about a little glug or two to of black soy?

    • Michael Babcock says:

      If it sounds good to you, go for it. I’m not sure it’s needed: but then I think of the black soy largely as a source of sweet and the oyster sauce has enough sweet for me. The black soy would add a nice molasses-type taste though. The beauty of this recipe is that you can do anything that tastes good to you.

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