This simple stir-fry from Katie Chin's new cookbook, Everyday Thai Cooking, is a true Chin original. She brings together Thai staples—fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice, and peanuts—with easy-to-find ingredients—spinach, tofu, basil—for a spicy, crunchy, veggie-based main that comes together faster than you can cook a pot of rice. The tofu is transformed from its spongy, bland beginnings as it soaks up the umami-filled sauce.
Why I picked this recipe: I wanted to try out a vegetarian recipe in the book, and this one was definitely the most unique.
What worked: The mixture of oyster sauce and sherry were a great foil to the mineral-y spinach, and a reminder of the link between Chinese and Thai cuisine.
What didn't: I prefer to sear tofu in a nonstick skillet to allay any fear of sticking. Guessing that it would stick in only 1 tablespoon of oil, I seared it off separately before adding it back into the stir fry at the end.
Suggested tweaks: You could certainly sub out the tofu for any other protein, or else cut it out completely and add more spinach. For a truly vegetarian take, you could use a mixture of sweet soy sauce and regular soy sauce for the fish and oyster sauce.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. Follow her @KateHWiliams.