Around the world, cooks rely on flavorful trios of aromatics to boost basic ingredients. In French cuisine, there is mirepoix, or onion, celery and carrots sautéed in fat. In India, it’s garlic, ginger and onion. The classic Cajun “holy trinity” involves onion, celery and green bell pepper.

And in Thailand? There is raak phak chee kratiem prik Thai, a mash of garlic, peppercorns and cilantro root sometimes known as saamkler (“the three friends”).

Traditionally pounded together with a mortar and pestle, it’s a flavor-­packed paste that serves as a base for seasoning sauces, marinating meat and enhancing stir-fries. Raak phak chee kratiem prik Thai gets much of its punch from cilantro root, the pungent, peppery root of the cilantro plant that too often is discarded in the U.S.

We loved that flavor combination, so we used raak phak chee kratiem prik Thai as a jumping-off point for a simple vegetable stir-fry. But to make it manageable in the U.S., we needed to make some substitutions.

Conventional American supermarkets rarely sell whole bunches of cilantro with the roots still intact. Luckily, substituting cilantro stems provides a similarly aromatic, peppery quality. Cooking the stems in the skillet along with garlic until golden brown deepened those notes.

Napa cabbage and mushrooms provided bold flavor and texture, while snow peas offered crunch, sweetness and color. Once the vegetables were lightly charred, we added a fish sauce, black pepper and brown sugar mix that created a deeply savory-sweet sauce that intensified as it reduced and glazed the vegetables in the skillet.

Topped with fresh cilantro leaves and paired with rice, this simple stir-fry tastes anything but.