Just over a year ago my youngest son brought the Asian influence into our lives when he married a beautiful Hmong girl. Having spent some of her young life in Thailand, she has an appreciation for a broad variety of the Pacific Rim foods. Her inclination towards all things spicy (perhaps that’s why she married my son) and love of hot peppers made her a natural fit in this family.
Before Sally, my exposure to Thai food was fairly limited. In a Thai restaurant, I tended to find something I liked on the menu and stick to it. Even though I am an adventurous cook and we have an abundance of Asian markets in our area, I was somewhat intimidated by the ingredients. I was at a total loss when shopping for these products and discovered the labels were often in foreign script. This plight lessened my enthusiasm to branch out and explore Asian cooking.
My new daughter-in-law and children have reignited my desire to learn to cook the Asian way. No meal is complete without their sticky rice. No holiday, BBQ or even campout can be fully enjoyed without the starchy side. That much learned, I wanted to expand my options. I decided to begin with starters, like appetizers and soups. Once I mastered some of these, or at least perfected enough of them to have a decent foundation, I’d move on to the main dishes. Spring rolls were a cinch since most of the ingredients were fresh, raw and familiar. Satay proved to be pretty doable since meat on a stick isn’t rocket science either. I was moving along okay until I attempted soups, Sally’s fave.
Though Sally loves noodle versions of soup with a brothy base, I wanted to start with a creamier style. I love the chicken, mushroom and coconut soup served as a first course in Thai restaurants. My search yielded a little gem from a fellow food blogger at The Shiksa in the Kitchen. Her translation of Thai-Style Coconut Chicken Soup focused on widely available ingredients. By slightly adjusting her ingredients and cutting down on the coconut milk I was able to create a less creamy, but still satisfying soup we would all enjoy. As she noted in her recipe, the only ingredient somewhat challenging to come by was the lemon grass. My search ended at Whole Foods Market as they regularly stock the bulbs.
Pleased to have added another successful recipe to my repertoire, I decided it’s time to move on to noodle soups. Knowing these will be a bit trickier, since Sally is a connosieur, I may have to enlist the experience of a professional and sign up for a class. Always eager to learn new cooking skills and cuisine, it’s just a ready excuse to do something I love with others of similar interest. This kindred culinarian spirit, truly is the Thai that binds.