Sticky, spicy, sweet and fragrant, this Thai dish proved to be a massive hit at a recent vegan supper I gave recently. So much so that I was asked for the recipe by several of my guests.
Good food always makes me happy. Whether it has fish, meat, is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free etc…it does not matter at all to me: as long as it is tasty.
With or without meat, if a dish tastes great, then it tastes great. Simple!
This is an adaptation of one of my favourite fast-food Thai dishes (Mah Hor) that I have been making for years – often with pork mince or chicken.
This meat-free version works so well with Quorn, which keeps its texture and absorbs those wonderful flavours.
I love eating this with lettuce leaves: wrapping up some of the mixture in a lettuce leaf before devouring it is particularly divine. But I often eat it on thin slices of fresh pineapple.
Spicy, sugary stickyness!
The star of this dish is the way the sugar melts into the ingredients and ever-so-slightly caramelises, giving everything a nice stickyness, while adding a greater depth of flavour. That sweetness, binding the very savoury flavours, is essential for this dish.
If you are not used to cooking Thai food, don’t be put off by the ingredients: they keep very well in the fridge, and ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves freeze beautifully.
I am not normally a fan of some of the meat alternatives: soya mince, for example, should be consigned to the bin as far as I am concerned.
But I adore Quorn for its texture and especially how it soaks up a lot of the gorgeous flavours that cooks with it. And it works so well in a dish such as this. I tend to buy packets of Quorn pieces and keep them in the freezer, diving into a bag as I need them.
I like make this with a mixture of Quorn mince, which goes wonderfully brown and nutty as it cooks down, and a few of the larger Quorn pieces, but you can use all mince or all larger pieces.
Vegen alternatives to fish sauce and shrimp paste
When I make this dish with pork or chicken, I use Thai fish sauce and shrimp paste.
Vegetarian “fish sauce” is, of course, not the same as traditional fish sauce. And nor should it be! But it is a good ingredient in its own right and adds a lovely flavour here. There are many varieties out there but I like the ones made with seaweed which have a punchy depth of flavour.
Instead of shrimp paste, I use a mixture of fermented bean paste and miso. These give a wonderful flavour here.
A non-vegan version
Several meat eaters who have eaten this, including my rather sceptical partner, could not believe how much better it would be if made with meat: praise indeed!
But if using meat:
- replace the Quorn with pork mince (not too lean: about 10-15% fat)
- replace the bean paste and miso with 1 rounded teaspoon of shrimp paste (it’s very strong so don’t go overboard!)
- replace the vegetarian “fish sauce” with traditional Thai fish sauce like for like
Thai Sticky Quorn wraps (vegan): serves 6 as a starter
- 3” piece fresh ginger, peeled
- 4 fat cloves of garlic
- 3 stalks lemongrass, outer layers peeled off
- 4 kaffir lime leaves, stems removed
- 2 red chillies, including the seeds (add more if you like it hotter)
- 2 tablespoons vegetarian “fish sauce”
- small handful of fresh coriander, including stalks
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon fermented soybean paste
- 1 teaspoon miso paste
- about 80ml water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons palm sugar or soft brown sugar
- 500g Quorn (all mince, all larger pieces or a mixture)
- a splash of water
- 1 tablespoon vegetarian “fish sauce”
- fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- red chilli, sliced thinly
- 12 lettuce leaves (Iceberg works best here)
(1) Put the paste ingredients it in a small blender and blitz to a coarse paste: I love having small pieces of the ingredients in there. Alternatively, pound with a pestle and mortar. Add a little more water if needed to help it blitz.
(2) Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan and add the shallots. Fry until they soften and start to turn dark around the edges.
(3) Add the paste and cook for 2-3 minutes over a gentle heat: the aroma is fabulous!
(4) Add the Quorn and stir well to coat. Cook for about 10 minutes, which will help the flavours develop.
(5) Stir in the sugar, heating on a lower heat for about 10 minutes or until the sugar starts to caramelise, stirring from time to time.
(6) Stir in the water and vegetarian fish sauce and let it the water simmer for about half a minute: there won’t be much liquid but the mixture will now be sticky.
(7) Sprinkle over chilli and coriander and serve with lettuce leaves.