At-Home Plant-Based Thai Recipe

Woman following vegan recipe

Government and Media Relations Liaison Rebecca Copans shares a plant-based recipe she developed for her picky-eaters, based on a family favorite dish from their local Thai restaurant.

Rebecca Copans posing with her kids on a hike
Rebecca Copans and her picky eaters hiking Elmore Mountain

Government and Media Relations Liaison Rebecca Copans has been a vegetarian her whole life and tends to lean towards plant-based living in her home. When cooking, she is always trying to find a balance between “eating well” to keep her family healthy and “eating good” to keep her family happy. With picky eaters at home, that can often be a challenge for her.

The following recipe is one she developed for her 12-year-old daughter (and picky eater) Lucy who loves a Khao Soi dish at their local Thai restaurant. “This is a nutrient-packed dinner that is incredibly satisfying on a cold winter evening,” she says. 

At-Home Khao Soi Recipe

Khao Soi is a coconut curry dish hailing from Northern Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. It traditionally consists of noodles in a thick, rich coconut broth, and protein.


  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 3-4 gold potatoes (this is an easy place to add more if you want to increase the number of servings) 
  • Block of firm tofu
  • Large onion
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 1-inch piece of ginger root
  • Bok choi or baby Pak choi
  • Prepared massaman curry or other red curry paste
  • Can coconut milk
  • Low-sodium soy sauce 
  • Nutritional yeast 
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup basmati rice (this is good for three solid servings) or rice noodles 

When it comes to ingredients in a recipe, Rebecca is the kind of cook that will read recipes for inspiration and alter them to suit her family’s preferences. “I almost always take a “clove of garlic” in a recipe to mean four or five (or a whole head, depending on where it’s going and how long it will simmer). Veggies—especially in soups and sauces—need a lot of flavors, and the holy grail is garlic, onions, and spices. I get a lot of inspiration from reading interesting cookbooks and food blogs with Asian, North African, and Middle Eastern influences,” she says. This recipe, for example, is endlessly modifiable. You can add any veggies or protein you have on hand. 


Preheat the oven to 400.

Drain the tofu and place it on a plate. 

Rebecca’s Tofu tip: Turn a second plate upside down and place it on top. Add a few bowls or a pot to weigh it down and let it rest for 10 minutes (you can do this an hour before you are ready to cook) to gently drain as much water as possible out of the tofu. You can skip this step if you are short on time, but it allows the tofu to soak up more flavor. 

Cook the potatoes. 

Put a medium pot of well-salted water on to boil for the potatoes. Wash, peel, and chop 3-4 organic gold potatoes in ½ inch chunks. The goal is to get each piece relatively the same size, so they cook evenly. If you have more time, add your potatoes to the cold water and then heat them (they will cook more evenly). If you are short on time, boil away and throw the potatoes in. A time-saving tip is to use an electric kettle if you have one to bring the water to its initial boil.   

They will take about five to six minutes to cook. Periodically stick a fork in them—you want the potato to give but not fall apart. When soft, drain to a colander and let them sit for a moment to dry. Toss with high-heat oil but do not add more salt—they have all the salt they need from boiling—and add to one side of a large cookie sheet. You want something with low sides or else the veggies will steam rather than roast. Pop them in the oven and begin to roast the potatoes—give them about a ten-minute head start before you add the broccoli. Check them every five minutes or so, and using a sharp spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan, carefully flip so all sides roast evenly. 

Roast the broccoli. 

Wash and chop two heads of broccoli—organic if possible—slice the bottom ½ inch off the crowns and discard, and then working from the underside of the florets, slice the broccoli along the natural lines of the florets and stems, trying to keep the florets intact as much as possible. The goal is to get to manageable pieces that can be eaten in two bites while preserving each piece with a bit of stem and a bit of flower. Add to the potato cookie sheet (flip the potatoes while the pan is out), drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, turn to coat, and roast until the broccoli starts to look bright green and starts to char on the tips, turning every five minutes or so.

In the meantime, cook the tofu. 

Carefully slice the tofu into even ½ inch cubes.

“If you’ve been mystified about how to cook tofu so it tastes good, here’s your guide. My kiddo will graze the kitchen eating this tofu while waiting for the rest of dinner to finish,” says Rebecca.

In a large frying pan, turn to medium-high heat. Add a small drizzle of heat-tolerant oil (coconut and avocado oils work well.) As the oil heats, turn the pan to coat. When the oil looks glassy, carefully add the tofu (the oil will splatter, be careful!) so each piece has room on the pan. Drizzle low-sodium soy sauce over the top of every piece. You can broadcast the soy sauce across the whole pan, just be careful that every piece of tofu gets a hit. This is your flavor base for the tofu. Follow the same pattern for nutritional yeast. If you have it on hand and if you like spice, you can add a few dabs of chili oil across the tofu as well. Don’t stir! Watch the pan and after 2-3 minutes it will look like the soy sauce is climbing up the tofu from the pan. When the color changes on the lower sides of the tofu, carefully flip using a sharp spatula so the good crispy bits stay with the tofu. If you stir, the tofu will crumble, and you’ll lose the good texture. Once you flip, repeat the soy sauce—though using less—and nutritional yeast. Flip one more time (without adding more soy or yeast) so all sides are well cooked. Carefully remove to a small bowl.    

Make the rice (or rice noodles). 

Rince 1 cup of rice a couple of times and drain. Add 2 cups cold water. Add a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover and bring to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to its lowest setting. Continue to cook with a tight-fitting lid until all water has dissipated, about 8 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving. 

Make the magic sauce. 

Using the pan the tofu cooked in, sauté a finely diced white or red onion on medium-low heat until it begins to be translucent. I have found that using a white onion helps disguise it for the onion-suspicious kids in my life (as opposed to red onions that can be spotted from a mile away).

Wash and prepare the ginger. 

Using the tip of a spoon, peel off the skin, then grate on the smallest holes of a box grater or a parmesan grater. Add to the pan. 

Add 4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. Once the onion is well on its way, add the garlic and cook, stirring often so it doesn’t burn, for about a minute. 

Add 3-4 spoonfuls of Massaman or red curry paste from a bottle or Asian market—more if you prefer more spice—to the onions.

Add a can of coconut milk and stir with a fork until completely incorporated, along with a scant tablespoon of brown sugar. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sautee the Bok choi. 

If you are using baby Bok choi or Pak choi, wash thoroughly paying attention to any dirt caught at the root. Slice the barest minimum off the bottom, and then slice it down the middle. 

If you are using full-size Bok choi, peel apart 3 or 4 leaves, wash thoroughly, then cut off the bottom 1.5 inches and discard. Slice the leaves lengthwise two or three times, depending on the width, and then carefully chop them into bite-sized pieces. 

In a medium-sized frying pan, drizzle olive oil on medium-low heat. When hot, add Bok choi, a sprinkle of salt, and stir often. After about 2 minutes, crush a clove of garlic over the top, and stir. When the Bok choi begins to slightly wilt—you still want a good crunch—and just starts to get a little translucent, remove it to a small bowl.


Combine and serve (or let your own picky eaters choose what they'd like to try!)

Final thoughts

“As I grow into my middle-aged body and my metabolism slows, I am realizing that eating mindfully is both difficult and critical,” says Rebecca. “This time of year always forces me to reflect on how I am living my life and what micro changes I can make to live better.” 

If you’d like to make some changes in your diet but need some help, Blue Cross members have access to registered dietitian consultations that can help you improve your relationship with food and nutrition. 

If you try this recipe out at home, we’d love to see your process and final (delicious!) product. Share on social media and tag us @BlueCrossVT!