At Thai restaurants, we always order Nam Sod. If you haven’t had it, it’s a salad made of ground chicken or pork, loads of ginger and thai chilis, peanuts, and thinly sliced crunchy veggies like red onion and radish. The flavors are incredible but I’ve never seen a vegan version of it, so I decided to give it a try.
Most Thai restaurants use fish sauce in pretty much everything and Nam Sod is no exception. I think my sauce tastes excellent without it, but if you’re a die-hard for that flavor, I won’t stop you from throwing some in.
Another important flavor comes from the chili paste. Some brands are really sweet or tangy. My favorite is the Lan Chi brand which you can find in most Asian markets and it does not contain fish sauce. I think this chili paste is probably the reason I was able to get my sauce to taste so close to a restaurant version.
Re-creating the texture of ground chicken was another tricky part. I tried extra firm tofu but it just didn’t hold up, although it did a great job of soaking up all of the flavors. I wanted to make this gluten free, so I used tempeh instead of seitan. Tempeh held its texture better than tofu, but I think seitan works best. If you want to keep it gluten free, make sure you cook the tempeh just enough to heat it all the way through. If you let it simmer in the sauce, it will start to break down and lose its texture.
This can be served with the tempeh hot or chilled. I like it hot to get the contrast against the cold, crunchy lettuce. In fact, I recommend that you chop up extra lettuce to mix in, and eat it rolled up in a big leaf like a taco!
For those following Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat To Live program, this complies with both the weight loss (just leave out the agave nectar/honey) and life plans.
Ingredients (serve 3 – 4)
1 8-oz. package tempeh (gluten free) or seitain – crumbled
¼ cup red onion – thinly sliced
1 green onion – thinly sliced
1 head romaine lettuce – select the biggest, sturdiest leaves
¼ cup radish – thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh ginger – thinly sliced like match sticks
½ cup dry roasted peanuts
fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
½ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup red wine, apple cider or rice vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce, tamari or Braggs Amino Acids
1 tsp. garlic – finely grated (I used a microplane)
1 ½ tbsp. fresh ginger – finely grated (I used a microplane)
1 tsp. chili paste
½ tbsp. agave nectar or honey (for vegetarians)
½ tsp. thai chili – finely sliced
1. Mix together all sauce ingredients in a bowl.
2. Crumble the tempeh or seitan so it is the consistency and size or ground chicken and set aside in a separate bowl.
3. Thinly slice the red onion, green onion, radish and ginger.
4. In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the tempeh and sauce. Heat just until the sauce starts to boil, then remove from heat.
5. Quickly stir in the red onion, radish and ginger.
6. Arrange 4 romaine lettuce leaves on a platter and equally divide the tempeh among them.
7. Top with green onion, cilantro and peanuts.
8. Serve hot or chilled.