How To Make Thai Food From Your Thanksgiving Leftovers
It’s the day after Thanksgiving. Your fridge is stuffed to the brim, but you find yourself standing in front of an open refrigerator door and nothing looks good. We all know the feeling. Your stomach (and your Instagram feed) is craving something besides another turkey dinner. Don’t pick up the phone for take-out just yet!
With its fragrant flavors, Thai ingredients are a great way to re-imagine your Thanksgiving leftovers with a fresh revival of flavor. Here are three distinctly Thai dishes you can use for inspiration to make a new meal out of Thanksgiving leftovers.
Thai Basil Stir-Fry with Green Beans
Phat Krapao stir-fried basil is a dish enjoyed by Thai people on a daily basis. The flavors from the fresh garlic, chili, and herbs are vibrant and warm. Made with meat, a rich brown sauce, and finished with fresh holy basil leaves that wilt on contact, this dish is a deeply satisfying plate.
Healthy, lean and hearty, Krapao basil turkey is the perfect way to dress up your roasted leftovers. In Thailand, Krapao is typically made with minced pork. For a lighter meal, chicken is also wildly popular. Turkey makes a great stand-in because the sauce will keep your turkey meat from drying out while the aromatics completely change the flavor.
Try out this Thai Basil Chicken recipe from Mark Wiens, a food-obsessed expat from the U.S. who has been living in Bangkok with his Thai wife Ying for many years. Just substitute your cooked turkey for the chicken and dice your garlic and chili finely!
In the streets of Bangkok, the only vegetable you’ll find in this dish are diced, green long-beans, a Thai cousin to the Western version. Slightly waxier in texture, the Southeast Asian long bean has a slightly bitter flavor and often will grow longer than your arm! If you’d like to get closer to the traditional recipe, you can find them coiled up at the Asian grocer. Alternatively, push your leftovers to the fullest and substitute French beans from your fully stocked fridge. After frying up your Krapao turkey, serve it with steamed Jasmine rice with a crispy-fried egg on top for a very “aroi” tasty meal.
“Red Fire” Vegetable Stir-Fry
Leela Punyaratabandhu, author of the cookbook Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen, says when friends ask her to teach them a Thai food recipe, this is her go-to.
Phat phak bung fai deng or “Red Fire” stir-fried morning glory is a dish with Thai-Chinese origins. The “red fire” refers to the extreme heat of the work used to fry the green vegetables.
Because morning glory is a delicate vine, the greens don’t need time to soften. Once they hit the pan, they become pliable and ready to eat. The quickfire melds the flavors of the sauce together, coats the greens, and the dish is done. The trick to the dish is to cook it for an extremely hot second and get it to the table quickly.
At the risk of breaking with authenticity and using Western vegetables, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that anything fried in this Fai Dang gravy-like sauce is going to taste heavenly. The root vegetables we usually have around during Thanksgiving like potatoes, carrots, turnips, and green beans are different, but a tasty substitute.
Chef Leela’s recipe calls for salted soybean paste, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, chicken broth, smashed garlic cloves, and red bird’s eye chilies. To keep the sauce light and punchy without turning the veggies into mush, use pre-cooked vegetables warmed through. After a quick blast on the stove, the dish will turn out just as fiery and garlicky as the morning glory version.
Thai Sweet Pumpkin Custard
For a new pumpkin dessert, forget pie and give Sankhaya Fak Thong Thai sweet custard a taste.
This fun and easy dessert will have the authentic aromas of Thailand dancing through your kitchen in no time. First, whisk together a quick custard of coconut milk, eggs, salt, vanilla, and palm sugar shavings. Then hollow out your leftover uncooked squashes. Acorn squash, summer squash, kabocha, and pumpkin all work well.
Finally, fill the squashes, put the tops back on, and stick them in the oven. The custard will set when the squash is perfectly soft. Sliced up, this dessert looks gorgeous on a plate. Follow this recipe from food blogger Rachel Cooks Thai and eat your pumpkin custard warm or cold.
The quick prep of a delicious and spicy Thai meal is a perfect way to recover from a tiring Thanksgiving workload. With two quick stir-fries on the table and squash custard in the oven, your post-Thanksgiving meal is done in a snap and tastier than ever!
Looking for more recipes? Explore more of Thailand’s culinary creations here!