This is one of my favorite soups. It’s so flavorful. Traditionally, it is not done in the crockpot, but there is no reason why it can’t be. Cooking it in the crockpot is not only easy, but it allows for the flavors to meld as it cooks over several hours. It turns out fantastic! To make it a little more substantial, sometimes we will eat this soup over some cooked rice vermicelli noodles.
This recipe contains several ingredients that may not be easy to find in a regular grocery store. Use this recipe as an excuse to visit an Asian market. I cook so much Thai food that I tend to keep these ingredients on hand.
Galangal: I have rarely been able to find fresh galangal, but I have been able to find it frozen or dried at Asian markets. If you use dried galangal, don’t mince it, instead throw a handful of slices into the soup. Remove the galangal slices (as you would a bay leaf) before serving. If you are unable to get galangal, you may substitute ginger instead.
Lemongrass: I am able to find lemongrass at my local Asian market. I will buy a bunch and clean it up and freeze it to use later. I have also seen a lemongrass paste in the produce section of my Publix. I would think 1 tablespoon of the paste could be used instead of minced lemongrass. If you can’t find lemongrass, you can leave it out.
Kaffir Lime Leaves: These are actually kind of hard to find in any store. This may seem strange, but I buy them on ebay, usually from someone in California that has a kaffir lime tree growing in their yard. They go out and pick the leaves and mail them. The leaves ship well and don’t need to be refrigerated right after picking. Once I get my kaffir lime leaves, I freeze them. They keep forever in the freezer. Lime zest can be substituted for kaffir lime leaves. The flavor isn’t exactly the same, but it is similar.
Sambal Olek: They actually sell this at Target in the ethnic food section. It is usually right next to the sriracha.
Crockpot Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounces mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
5 cups chicken broth
1 13.5 (approximately) ounce can coconut milk
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece galangal, minced (substitute ginger if you can’t find galangal)
1/2 stalk lemongrass, finely minced
3 kaffir lime leaves, rib removed and julienned (substitute zest of 1 lime)
1 teaspoon sambal olek (or sriracha)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon Thai basil, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Combine all the ingredients except the Thai basil and fresh cilantro in the crockpot. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. Right before serving, remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the crockpot along with the Thai basil and fresh cilantro. Serve with additional chopped fresh cilantro.
Did you know you can cook cucumbers? You can! They are especially great in stir-fries. In this particular spicy noodle dish, the addition of shredded cucumber helps cool the heat from the Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing.
The Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing is the key to this recipe. It’s essential. Make it first.
Prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking. This dish comes together very quickly.
Fire Noodles with Shrimp
Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing (recipe follows)
4 ounces rice vermicelli
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded (or use 4 – 5 pickling cucumbers)
3 carrots, peeled
handful of black fungus (found in Asian markets)
Soak the rice vermicelli in a large bowl with enough hot water to cover for about 15 minutes or until they soften. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Soak the black fungus in a bowl with enough hot water to cover for about 15 minutes or until they are soft. Drain and slice very thinly. Set aside.
Shred the cucumbers. The food processor fitted with the shredding attachment is the quickest way to do it. Squeeze the liquid out of the shredded cucumbers. I place the shredded cucumbers in a clean dishtowel, gather all the edges, and squeeze out the liquid.
Shred the carrots.
Heat 1/4 cup of the Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing in a wok over high heat. Add the drained rice vermicelli noodles and stir-fry until softened, about 3 minutes. Move the noodles to the side of the wok. Add 2 more tablespoons of the Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing and add the shrimp. Stir-fry the shrimp until no longer pink, 2 – 3 minutes, and then mix into the noodles. Add the cucumbers, carrots, and black fungus and stir-fry until well-combined and heated through.
Serve the noodles with extra Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing for drizzling.
Red-Hot Chile Oil Dressing
I got this recipe from Nina Simonds’ Asian Noodles: Delicious Simple Dishes to Twirl, Slurp, and Savor (Hearst Books, 1997), one of my all time favorite cookbook. This dressing is hot and downright addicting! I like to use it in stir fries and to dress Asian-style noodle dishes.
I get the super-hot crushed red pepper from Penzey’s. I like it hot.
1/4 cup safflower or corn oil (I use canola)
2 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or 4 to 6 small dried hot chile peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch rings
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
7 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or sake
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Combine both oils in a heavy saucepan and heat over high heat until almost smoking hot. Add the red pepper, cover, and remove from the heat. Let sit until cool, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to dissolve the sugar. Refrigerated, in a covered container, the dressing will keep for a week. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
It’s not the prettiest soup, but it is loaded with flavor. I omitted the traditional tofu (and pork) and then added cabbage, carrots, and bamboo shoots to this vegetarian version of Hot and Sour Soup. It’s a delicious and filling soup and it only comes in at around 59 calories per 1 cup serving.
Dried shiitake mushrooms and black fungus are some of my favorite ingredients found in an Asian market. They are essential for this soup. Yet another reason to visit an Asian market. Go.
Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
handful of dried black fungus (also know as wood ear mushrooms)
3 cups hot water
8 cups vegetable broth
2 cups thinly shredded cabbage (green, Savoy, or Napa)
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 5 ounce can bamboo shoots, drained and julienned
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1 teaspoon sambal olek or sriracha
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
In separate bowls, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water and the dried black fungus in 1 cup of hot water until soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the stems from the shiitakes and discard. Slice the rehydrated mushrooms thinly and return to the soaking liquid. Set aside. Thinly slice the rehydrated black fungus. I find it easier to stack a few pieces, roll them up, and then slice with a very sharp knife. Add the sliced shiitakes and their soaking liquid, as well as the sliced black fungus to a soup pot. Discard the black fungus soaking liquid.
Add the vegetable broth to the soup pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the shredded cabbage, julienned carrot and bamboo shoots, minced garlic and ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, sambal olek (or sriracha), sesame oil, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until the cabbage is tender, 10 minutes.
Stir in the cornstarch/water slurry and cook until the soup slightly thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and then slowly add the beaten eggs in a thin stream while stirring the soup. Serve immediately.
I had a couple of spaghetti squash from my CSA box and decided to use one to make a recipe for Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein that I had found on Pinterest. I can’t believe how well it turned out! It was amazing! And I love that spaghetti squash only has about 42 calories per cup. How can something so delicious have so few calories? I got two more spaghetti squash in this week’s CSA box and I will definitely be using them for Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein in the coming weeks.
Here is where I found the recipe for Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein.
I pretty much followed her recipe except that I didn’t use a coleslaw mix. I thinly sliced a quarter of a head of cabbage and julienned two carrots instead. I also slivered the onion instead of dicing it.
Chicken and eggplant is a classic Thai combination. When stir-fried with a curry paste, it makes for an easy meal. This recipe took me less than 20 minutes from start to finish. I served it with some Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice (Brown Basmati). So easy.
I used Maesri brand Prik Khing curry paste, which I bought at an Asian market, when I made this. I’m a huge fan of Maesri curry pastes.
You can use your favorite Thai curry paste. Thai Kitchen makes red and green curry pastes and they are easily found in the ethnic section of some grocery stores. If using Thai Kitchen curry paste, you probably want to reduce the amount of curry paste. I would suggest with starting with 2 teaspoons and going from there if you want it spicier.
I don’t always have access to fresh Thai basil. When I do get Thai basil, I chop what I don’t use immediately in a food processor and freeze it. I just break off a piece of the frozen Thai basil and add it to my dish while I’m cooking it.
Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry
2 tablespoons oil (I used canola, but coconut would be good too)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons Thai curry paste (I used Prik Khing curry paste)
1 large unpeeled Japanese eggplant (or 2 small), sliced (about 1/4-inch) diagonally
1 green bell pepper, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon sugar
fresh Thai basil, torn (about a handful)
Heat the oil in a wok (or skillet) over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it is just starting to lose it’s pink color. Add the curry paste and stir-fry until the chicken is coated. Add the eggplant and bell pepper. Season with fish sauce and sugar. Stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through, and the eggplant is cooked to your preference. I like mine tender, but not mushy. Add the Thai basil and take off the heat. Serve with hot rice.
Earlier this year, I revamped one of my favorite Thai soups to make it vegetarian, as well as acceptable for the low iodine diet I was on at the time. I was super happy with the way the soup turned out. It was delicious! So flavorful.
I replaced the traditional fish sauce with a Umami Sauce I made. I typically use my favorite Madras curry powder in this recipe, but I included a recipe for a Madras-style curry powder at the bottom of the recipe anyway. I have a big collection of spices, but I realize not everyone does, so feel free to replace the Madras curry powder with any store-bought Indian curry powder. For the noodles you can use linguine (or spaghetti) or rice noodles.
I contacted Thai Kitchen via their Facebook page and asked about the type of salt they use in their products. Turns out they do not use iodized salt. This opens a world of possibilities for those on a low iodine diet. The Thai Kitchen red curry paste should not be hard to find. Look in the ethnic section of your grocery store. I actually bought a jar at Target.
Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Soup with Vegetables
1/2 lb. linguine, cooked
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 – 3 tsp. Thai Kitchen red curry paste (to taste)
1 T. Madras curry powder (recipe follows)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can (13.5 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (unsalted or homemade for LID)
3 tablespoons Umami Sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 head green cabbage, cored and shredded
4 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed and halved (you can use snow peas instead)
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (or use the mushrooms left over from making the Umami Sauce)
1/2 to 1 12 ounce (approximately) can baby corn, drained
1 cup fresh spinach, torn
Kosher salt, to taste
fresh cilantro leaves
unsalted peanuts, crushed
limes, cut into wedges
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shredded cabbage and cook until just tender. Add the red curry paste, curry powder, and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant (about 40 seconds). Whisk in coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, add Umami Sauce and sugar, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and baby corn and simmer until all the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with kosher salt. Stir in torn spinach and take off the heat.
Divide noodles in soup bowls, ladle soup into bowls, and top with fresh cilantro leaves and crushed unsalted peanuts. Serve with a wedge of lime.
Quick and Easy Salt-Free Madras Curry Powder
3 tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine all of the spices and store in a glass Mason jar.
I am about to go on a low iodine diet (LID) again to prepare my body for radioactive iodine and a nuclear whole body scan to check for a possible persistence/recurrence of thyroid cancer. The thought of having to go on LID again is almost as bad as the thought of not being cancer free. I’m hoping that being better prepared for LID this time around will help it be more tolerable.
I’m really excited about this recipe. I love Pad Thai. I feel that if I can make LID versions of my favorite dishes, then being on that soul sucking diet will be a little less painful. This LID version of Pad Thai is yummy. Having this recipe in my repertoire will definitely make LID easier.
I adapted/simplified this version from a recipe for Thai Noodles in Victor Sodsook’s True Thai. It’s good, a little on the sweet side, but good. So good that I have made it twice this week (and I’m not even on LID yet). The ingredients are fairly easy to find, although I’m not sure how authentic of an ingredient ketchup is. Once the ingredients for this dish are prepared and assembled, it comes together quickly.
Pad Thai (LID)
8 ounces dried flat rice noodles (bahn pho) – look for one that only has rice and water as ingredients
1/4 pound chicken breast, sliced
6 tablespoons Umami Sauce (recipe here)
5 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt-free ketchup (Hunt’s and Heinz make salt-free ketchup)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
egg whites, equivalent to 3 eggs, lightly beaten
fresh cilantro, chopped
crushed unsalted peanuts
chile pepper flakes
fresh bean sprouts
fresh cilantro, chopped
Soak the rice noodles in very hot water until they are soft, about 15 minutes. When they are ready, drain in a colander and set aside until ready for use.
Meanwhile, combine the Umami Sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt-free ketchup, and chili powder (if using). Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.
Have all the ingredient ready and within reach. This dish comes together quickly once the cooking begins.
Heat a wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, turning the wok to make sure the oil coats the bottom. Add the sliced chicken and cook until no longer pink. Transfer the chicken to the bowl or plate and set aside. Wipe out the wok with a paper towel.
Heat 2 more tablespoons of oil in the wok. Add the minced garlic and cook briefly, about 30 seconds. Add lightly beaten egg whites. Cook the egg whites, stirring to scramble them, until they are set. Pour the prepared sauce mixture into the wok. Add the reserved softened noodles, tossing gently in the sauce. Cook until the noodles are tender and have absorbed the sauce, about 3 – 5 minutes. Add the reserved cooked chicken and toss to combine. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve. Have the crushed peanuts, chile pepper flakes, bean sprouts, additional chopped cilantro, and lime wedges on the table so everyone can add their desired condiments.
Adapted from True Thai by Victor Sodsook (William Morrow and Company, 1995).