Tasty Thai

7 Nov

A couple of years ago, I discovered a miraculous food: Tom Yum Soup. See, the winters in Montreal were always exceptionally chilly, and I often took cover at the local mall and bus depot. After having exhausted the regular food court offerings, I noticed a new occupant in one of the stalls: Thai Express.

Having never tried Thai before, I decided to order the Tom Yum, which was described to me as a spicy lemongrass-ginger soup. I had it meal-style, which meant they added in some bean thread noodles, shredded chicken and a ladle of coconut milk. I sat down, took my first bite, and was immediately in heaven. I knew I’d be back often, and indeed I was.

Now that I live in a much smaller, less diverse city, my ethnic options have dwindled to Chinese, Japanese, Mexican and Indian. Good, but not good enough. I love exploring the world through food, and decided that if the world can’t bring its cuisines to me, then I would create them myself. I started off with Thailand, and boy, am I glad I did! I put together a quick menu of Tom Yum Had Soup, Asian Coleslaw and Salad Rolls, and was off and running.

This meal does require a fair amount of chopping and mise en place, but it’s definitely worth it! The flavours are excellent, ranging from citrus to peanut, savoury sweet to spice. I think this would also be a nice meal to entertain with, especially if you have friends that like to travel or try something new. It’s an easy meal, albeit one with a lot of chopping. Also, you can prep everything ahead of time, and make the soup 30 minutes before your guests arrive.

Tom Yum Had Soup
serves 6 – 8

  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 roma or plum tomatoes, cut in eighths
  • 12 cups (no-)chicken stock
  • zest of 1 lime (or 2-3 Kafir lime leaves)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, pounded
  • 3 T (vegetarian) fish sauce (I’ve used soy sauce, and it tastes the same)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 T Sriracha (a spicy chili-garlic sauce)
  • 1 cup cilantro, minced
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 T ginger, grated
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1 T peanut oil
  • 1 carrot, sliced in half moons
  • 3 cups of bean sprouts (optional)


  1. In a medium-sized soup pot, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion (not the green onions), half each of the ginger and the lemongrass until the onion translucent.
  2. Add the stock, fish or soy sauce, remaining ginger, lemongrass, and lime zest. Simmer 10 – 15 minute covered on medium-low heat.
  3. Add in the sugar, Sriracha, mushrooms, and half of the sliced tomatoes. Simmer an additional 2 minute.
  4. Turn heat down fully to low and add in the lime juice, half of the diced cilantro and the green onions, then let simmer on low for another few minutes.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk, the rest of the tomatoes and the bean sprouts and allow to warm through.
  6. Sprinkle each serving with the remaining cilantro and serve with additional lime juice.

Salad Rolls
makes about 10 rolls
note: for more substantial rolls, you can include in your fillings a thinly cut protein, such as egg, pork, tofu, chicken, shrimp, smoked salmon, or a sashimi-grade raw fish.

  • 1 (16 ounce) package rice or tapioca paper sheets
  • 4 green onions, julienned about 3 inches long
  • 1 English cucumber, julienned
  • 1 avocado, cut into thin slices
  • 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 carrots, peeled, julienned, and cut into 3 inch strips (or shredded. Choice is yours)
  • 1 (16 ounce) package bean thread noodles, softened and drained
  • 1 romaine heart, leaves separated and cored
  • Mint, shredded

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 T lime juice
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 t hot pepper flakes
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 3 T chunky peanut butter
  • 1 T hoisin sauce
  • 1 t brown or white sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 T soy sauce


  1. Combine all ingredients for the peanut sauce ahead of time, and set aside.
  2. In a medium pan, add in about 1 1/2 inches of hot (but not boiling) water.
  3. Place each rice or tapioca round into the water, immersing completely, until it begins to soften. Do not allow to soften completely, as it will continue to cook and be too soft to roll.
  4. Set on counter or cutting board, and layer noodles, carrot, cucumber, green onion, red pepper and avocado. Top with shredded mint and a romaine leaf. Roll in a motion similar to rolling a burrito – grasp at bottom, holding fillings in tightly and while folding in the sides, continue to roll. Be mindful that you still have to roll it up, so do not overfill.
  5. After each roll is completed, wrap tightly in plastic wrap until serving. They keep very well wrapped in the fridge, which allows the roll to retain moisture and its shape.
  6. Serve with dipping sauce on the side.

the prepared fillings, from top left to bottom right:
shredded carrot, cucumber, avocado, green onion and red pepper;
prepared bean thread noodles; romaine lettuce leaf, cored;
shredded mint leaves

the tapioca paper round –
on the left, from the package; on the right, after softening in hot water

on the left – before being rolled
on the right – after rolling

Asian Coleslaw
serves 6 – 8

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T peanut butter
  • 3 T lime juice
  • 3 T (no) fish sauce (soy sauce can be used instead here as well)
  • 3 T water
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t Sriracha
  • 2 lbs napa cabbage, thinly sliced (12 cups)
  • 3/4 lb red cabbage, thinly sliced (3 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, julienned
  • 2 red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 T chopped cilantro
  • 15 mint leaves, torn
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the peanut butter together with the lime juice, fish or soy sauce, water, sugar, garlic and Sriracha.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the napa and red cabbages with the carrots, peppers, cilantro, peanuts, and mint.
  3. Toss the salad with the dressing and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve right away.

4 Responses to “Tasty Thai”

  1. My Sweet & Saucy November 8, 2008 at 3:02 PM #

    I am loving this recipe! What a healthy, yummy treat!

  2. Dave November 8, 2008 at 8:39 PM #

    Carly,Dave here at 304blogs.com. I couldnt find any other way to contact you. I just added you to our directory.Thanks!David

  3. Donna November 10, 2008 at 12:12 PM #

    Sounds so yummy. I can’t wait to sample all your new cooking skills

  4. E November 12, 2008 at 5:18 PM #

    One of your best meals yet!(and that’s saying something)

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