Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Thai Cooking Newbie {Try New Adventures Thursday!}

Remember my list of 27 things to do in my 27th year? Well, I just crossed off a third item from the list...

Vegetarians, look away. I'm going to go into detail about fermented shellfish, because I just cooked my first Thai dish!

For my first try, I decided to go with this delightful sounding Thai Coconut Soup. It has a hefty ingredient list, with several items I have never cooking with before, including red curry paste, fish sauce, shrimp paste, lemongrass, and shiitake mushrooms. My friend Molly helped me stock my pantry with some of these Thai food essentials awhile back, so it was time to put them to the test...

The gathered ingredients...don't they look fancy? I made an extra trip to an Asian market here to get the Red Curry Paste. This picture is missing the Shrimp Paste, because I decided to throw that in last minute.

Host of Characters

First, grate the ginger and slice the shiitake mushrooms. Heaven help us, shiitake mushrooms are EXPENSIVE! I've seen steak for much cheaper.

Shiitake Mushrooms
Pondering a costly mushroom
Then you heat the oil (I used coconut oil, although vegetable oil would also work) in a large pan and add in the lemon grass, red curry paste, and ginger. I used lemongrass paste, since I couldn't find the fresh stuff anywhere.

Next, in goes the chicken broth. Then I got a wild hair, and decided to incorporate some of the Shrimp Paste I've been curious to use.

Shrimp Paste

Ya'll. The bottle looks innocent enough, but this stuff smells awful. Like you've got lots of dead shellfish covering your kitchen floor. I only added 1/2 tsp, but I wondered if the soup would be ok. Who originally thought to eat this stuff?

Next, the brown sugar and the fish sauce. We're going from glory to glory here. More fishy smells. Now you let the soup simmer for 15 minutes and pray that heat helps things along (i.e. makes the smells go away!).

Then in goes the coconut milk (yay!) and the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are soft, around 5 minutes.

Next, slide in the shrimp and cook until they are done, around 5 minutes.

Ahh, Shrimp and Mushrooms

Lastly, I added the lime juice (it changed the flavor so subtlety for the better!) and some salt. Garnish with cilantro (love) and you're done! No more fishy smells. In fact, this soup rocks! We had it over rice.

Thai Coconut Soup

Seconds all around! I'm freezing a portion of this soup to see how it handles that. Here's the official recipe:

Thai Coconut Soup
Very slightly adapted from this recipe
1 TBSP vegetable oil or coconut oil
2 TBSP grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. lemon grass paste or 1 stalk lemon grass, minced
2 tsp. red curry paste
1 tsp. shrimp paste
4 cups chicken broth
3 TBSP fish sauce
1 TBSP light brown sugar
3 (13.5 oz) cans coconut milk
1/2 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced (I only used 1/4 lb)
1 lb medium shrimp--peeled and deveined
2 TBSP fresh lime juice (I used from concentrate juice)
salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

First, grate the ginger and slice the shiitake mushrooms. Then  heat the oil in a large pan and add in the lemon grass, red curry paste, shrimp paste, and ginger. I used lemongrass paste, since I couldn't find the fresh stuff anywhere. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Then add the chicken broth, stirring constantly. Stir in the brown sugar and fish sauce and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk and the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are soft, around 5 minutes. Next, slide in the shrimp and cook until they are done, around 5 minutes. Lastly, add the lime juice and salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.
*Printable Recipe*

So, what do you think? Would you give this soup a try, shrimp paste and fish sauce and all? Do you ever make Thai dishes at home?

Ok, it's Thursday, so link up your adventures below! Link back to Alicia's Homemaking and go visit the other participants. Give the comments you would like to receive. :D You can follow along on twitter with the hashtag #TryNewAdventures.



  1. Way to go! It does look yummy! I've never made Thai, but I've made some Indian dishes that are pretty similar.

  2. Looks good, Alicia! As you know, I have no qualms with fish sauce. =) Fresh shitake mushrooms are SO good, but I find it cheaper to buy the dried ones and soak them in hot water. If I make this Thai soup, I might sub a can of straw mushrooms; I remember eating a soup like this at a Thai restaurant and that's what they used.

    Just sharing some thrifty tips in case you want to make this soup often...

  3. Julia, thanks so much! I saw some dried shiitake mushrooms at the market, so maybe I'll give those a shot! I've never heard of straw mushrooms, but I'll keep an eye out.

    Do know know where I could find lemon grass? The tube of paste at Publix cost $3.99 and it says that it expires on March 8th! NOT frugal.

  4. This looks great. I had wanted to try a recipe like a few years ago but yours looks so much better. I am excited to try this recipe.Thanks for sharing.

  5. If Shrimp Paste is anything like Oyster Sauce, yes, it's smelly! A friend of ours wouldn't believe that Oyster Sauce would make his stir-fry taste better b/c it smells so nasty! I've never cooked - or eaten - Thai food. Hmm... Maybe I'll have to try it sometime. What's the difference between "mushrooms" and Shiitake Mushrooms?

  6. Oh, Miriam, you have to give Thai food a try!
    Regular white mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms have a different taste, but I'm not sure how to put it into words.

  7. Alicia, usually the Asian markets are your best bet for price and selection. I go to one in my town about once a month to stock up, though I don't know if they carry fresh lemon grass. Perhaps you could do an Asian freezer cooking day to use up your current lemon grass supply...

  8. Alicia, I make this "sort-of" Thai dish from Rachael Ray:

    It doesn't have as many foreign ingredients so it's a little bit more cost-effective.

    I wonder if it would be any less expensive to buy dried shitakes and rehydrate them?

  9. Jessie, I think it would definitely be more cost effective to do that! Fresh shiitake mushrooms cost $8.99/lb at my local grocery store, and even more at Publix!

    Julia, any recipe recommendations for an Asian freezer cooking day? :D :D :D

  10. That looks really good, and surprisingly easy! I may just pick up some of those extra staples soon and try it, before it's too hot for soup!

  11. An idea just occurred to me...I think I might try to freeze the lemon grass paste in little portions! I tried to google that and didn't find much info, so I'll try it myself. We'll see!'s already starting to warm up here! Short sleeves today!

  12. Oh goodness. I love Thai food, but I haven't cooked it but a handful of times. We eat TONS of Indian food in my house though, so this would be a hit I'm sure. And, good thing most of my house are pescetarians... this dish didn't offend me one bit. ;)

  13. That looks so good! I just visited my first Asian supermarket on Tuesday afternoon with my family. My husband got off work early so all of us drove over there (about 30 minutes away). It's called H-Mart. They have all this stuff. And it was surprisingly inexpensive. The man in front of us bought lemongrass. We got grapes for $.99/lb and Fuji apples at $.69/lb. The smell just about knocks you down when you walk in the front door, but once you get through that, you're good.

  14. I get a soup like that from a Thai/Chinese place down the street. YUM.

  15. Yummy! Hubby's cousin and cousin's wife just moved to Thailand for 2 years for her job with the US Embassy. It has been so cool for the girls to love about Thailand through their photos and stories. I had Melody learn a few words too, and when we have Thai it always reminds us of them now. You make everything look super good all the time. Thanks for stopping by our blog. I linked up the post on Melody getting her first library card. She was super excited that the receipt had her name on it.

  16. Interesting! I have never cooked Thai but you are inspiring me.

  17. Oh, I'm so impressed! I've never tried Thai food but this looks extremely yummy. I'm about to go and check out your perfect cream cheese icing entry. That sounds yummy too!

    Blessings to you this day!

  18. I'm saving your recipe in my Evernote account. We've cooked Thai occasionally, but this soup looks really good.

  19. Looks amazing. I am going to have to try that for sure.


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