Category Archives: Thai Food

Tom Yum Kung ต้มยำกุ้ง

This is the Thai national dish. When you say something is Tom Yum Kung, you are saying that it is authentically Thai.  Its like saying that something is “as American as apple pie”. The Asian Monetary Crisis of 1997 which seemed to start in Thailand is often referred to as “Tom Yum Kung”.

This is the start of a post on a recipe for Tom Yum Kung. My sources are memory, Jennifer Brennan’s (Hot Pink) Original Thai Cookbook and Hot Thai Kitchens youtube video and Thai Food Master
My memories are scattered but as always include Umdang Ceramics and a certain little whole in the wall place in Korat that kept upping the peppers every time we went there.

This page says to add 4 shallots This page also says to fry prawn brains in oil until golden. They add them late in the process to the soup and it adds an orange color. I will probably get headless shrimp so no prawn brains.
I have had shallots in Tom Yum but have never included them in my recipe. I am gonna try some this time.
I really like the oil that has had shrimp shells fried in it so  I am going to use that part of the Hot Pink cook book.

2T vege oil I like the way it looks if it goes red.
8 cups quality chicken stock using skin and feet if possible
1.5t salt
1″ of galangal fresh from my garden sliced in rounds.
3 stalks lemon grass 1″ length. from my garden, bruise before cutting.
Kaffir Lime leaf 4 slivered from my garden
1/4 t kaffir zest but other limes OK from my garden, maybe fresh
2 green chili, serrano, or one polano slivered (bruise first). I will  throw in a few pequins.
4 shallots
2 pounds shrimp peel de-vein and reserve the shells.
1 slivered red chili slivered (bruise first)
2 limes juiced.
1T Fish Sauce. Louis uses a tad of shrimp paste.
2 T coriander leaves chopped coarse
3 green onions chopped coarse from my garden
mushrooms, I am going shitake this time I think.
a small amount of vegetable matter but this soup traditionally has little to none. I am not sure what, but maybe a few bits of slivered root veges. Hot Thai Kitchen says maybe to add some Nam Prik Phao it adds some nice color. I may put in some powdered dry  ancho chili early with the shrimp shells.

Fry shells in oil , add stock, galangal, leaf and rind of kaffir.  green chilli shallots. simmer the stock.
Bring to a boil add veges, mushrooms first, then shrimp. Slightly undercook the shrimp. Remove from heat add lime juice fish sauce sugar coriander and green onion. Check for salt, sugar, pepper, fish sauce.  serve. Guests that are late get it cold. Do not bring this back to a boil.


น้ำบูดูและข้าวยำปักษ์ใต้ Nam Bu Du and Kao Yam (Rice Salad and Southern Fish Sauce)

I am working on making KaoYam with Nam Bu Du น้ำบูดู a dish from the south of Thailand, really from Malaysia. I am going to at least start with the recipe on this page.
She Simmers Thai Cooking KaoYam
I have been told by an old friend HS9DEK with a glorious voice and welcoming warm personality that I should use Thai Bu Du sauce. I have not spoken with him for most of a year. Catching him online was great.
A friend gave me a small amount of homemade Bu Du….

Bai Krapow

Might have to cook this:… or maybe this:…
Pork & Crunchy Basil ( Yum Mu Sam Chan Grapow Grob ) (Appon’s Thai Food Recipes)
A typical gop-gam dish to eat as a snack or with alcoholic drinks. This one is f…See More
2 minutes ago · Like · Remove Preview
Louis Katz…
Pad Prik Bai Kaprow Stir Fry with Basil Recipe by elaurance |
Find the recipe for PAD PRIK BAI KAPROW – STIR FRY WITH BASIL and other chicken recipes at

Green Curry Paste เครื่องแกงเขียวหวาน and Curry และแกง

Sweet Green CurryI am getting ready to make some Green Curry Paste แกงเขียวหวาน . I do not have much galanga to harvest but might harvest it all and use it up. After I return from Thailand maybe I can get some fresh from Houston. Making your own curry paste is not something you should do at the last minute. It is very time consuming. In a mortar it requires lots of work. Start it no later than noon the day you are serving. Generally I try and make it the day before. I store it tightly sealed in the fridge. It is great for a few weeks, after a few months it is no better than the store bought paste. The more ingredients that you can get fresh, the better, but it could be made from dry except for the basil and peppers.
The recipe I have been using for years is:

  • 3 pieces dry galanga or equivalent Fresh or frozen (3 inches??) ข่า
  • 1 teaspoon dry lesser ginger กระชาย (Also available frozen)
  • 2 corriander roots รากผักชี (cilantro)  Sometimes you can by fresh cilantro with roots attached
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds เมล็ดยี่หร่า (this really adds character to this)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds เมล็ดผักชี
  • 4 whole cloves กานพลู
  • 1 nutmeg pod ลูกจันทน์เทศ (everyone should buy nutmeg whole and grate it when needed)
  • 2 stalks lemon grass minced as fine as you can.  ตะไคร้
  • 12 black pepper corns พริกไทย (unless you have fresh)
  • 2 T shallots หอม
  • 2 T garlic กระเทียม
  • 1 t shrimp paste กะปิ (keeps years out of the fridge)
  • 1 t kaffir lime zest ผิวมะกรูด (freezes well, you can sub regular lime zest)
  • 8 whole green serrano chillies พริก เขียว (If you want less heat substitute a strong flavored but less hot chilli like mild poblano, but it takes a little more to get the flavor.)
  • 4 t vegetable oil น้ำมัน (this can be coconut, olive or whatever) Don’t worry about the taste, its gonna be covered.
  • I hav  in the past added basil to the paste but put it into the curry. It still needs fresh basil leaves at the end. I would leave this out. 1/2 Cup fresh basil leaves โหระพ
  • also some recipes call for fresh coriander ( why not) 1/4 cup ผักชี
  • 1t salt (OK to omit if you are going to use this fresh, if you are going to store this, include it)

The best way to get this all into a fine paste seems to be to:

  • Break up the nutmeg into small chunks, and if dry the break the galanga into pieces first.
  • Take the dry stuff and grind it in a blender, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.
  • Peel the outside tougher green leaves off the lemon grass. As a group tie them in a big knot and reserve for Tom Yum stock if you are making it or discard, if you use outside leaves your paste will be hairy. Cut the lemongrass across the grain very VERY finely. Then chop. Do the same if using fresh galanga or frozen. If you do not get it fine enough your paste will be hairy.
  • If the lime zest is fresh, chop it.
  • Chop the peppers and any other fresh ingredients (lemon grass, galanga, lime zest) and grind or pound until smooth.
  • blend and/or pound until smooth. Its OK to add a little extra oil, but no water unless you are not keeping some of the paste.
  • After all the fresh ingredients are added add the dry ones and blend until homogenious

Sweet Green Curry with Chicken

  • 3 pounds chicken cut into chunks. Legs should be cut through the bone.
  • 3-4 cups coconut milk (make sure it is NOT sweetened)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (other oil may be substituted)
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 3 slices Galangal
  • 3 T green curry paste approximately
  •  a few basil leaves if using the above paste, otherwise 1/2 cup
  • 6 fresh Kaffir Lime leaves or other citrus leaves, frozen or dried are OK
  • 1-2 cups pea eggplants (one small purple eggplant cut or some Thai eggplant are OK too). I have been using Tomatillo in this because they are good, down here in Texas they are cheap, and they look right. มะเขือพวง
  • 6 Serrano peppers

Boil the chicken, 2 cups coconut milk, fish sauce and galangal until the meat is tender. Remove the meat. Add the oil. Boil down until the liquid thickens, add the curry paste (blend into some liquid) and cook while stirring 5 minutes. Pour in remaining coconut milk (and purple eggplant if you are using them) and return to boil. reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes. Add basil (reserve a few for garni), citrus leaves, pea or Thai eggplant and chili peppers. Increase heat and bring to low boil for 5 minutes. Garnish with Basil and serve over rice.




Miang Kam

Gail’s Miang Kam เมี่ยงคำ

This is a fun appetizer. I think it should be sold in restaurants on a tray. The sauce can be made in advance and most of the other ingredients can be prepped ahead too.

  • 1/4 cup ground dried shrimp กุ้งแห้ง
  • 1/2 -1 cup sugar น้ำตาล
  • 1/4 cup roasted grated coconut meat (can be roasted in a dry cast iron skillet on a burner)มะพร้าวเผา
  • 2 T fish sauce น้ำปลา
  • 1/2 cup water น้ำ
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste กะปิ

Roast coconut meat, add sugar until dissolved add fish sauce and shrimp paste and water cook 1 or 2 min., cool.

  • 1 cup shredded coconut ( roast to bring out flavor) มะพร้าว
  • 1/4 cup shallot diced หอม
  • 1/4 cup small diced ginger ขิง
  • 1/4/cup peanuts roasted no salt ถั่วลิสง
  • 1/4 cup dried shrimp (not fresh) from asian gorcery กุ้งแห้ง
  • 1/4 cup small bits of lime with peel (1/4″x 1/4″x 1/4″) มะนาว
  • 1/4 cup small serrano chillies , seeded for the mild stomachs พริก
  • Lettuce leaves ใบ?? หรือ ใบผักกาด

Take the lettuce leaves and wilt them  by soaking in a strong warm brine. Rinse well.
Ito each leaf place a dollup of cool sauce a bit of Shallot, Ginger, 1 dried shrimp,1 peanut, 1 pit of lime a bit of coconut, 1/4 – 1 whole serrano chilli. roll up small enough to jam into your mouth in one bite.

Appon’s Thai Food Site


Appon might be an old Thai pronunciation of Apple in Thai. The letter that corresponds with ‘L’ ล (law ling) is only pronounced like an English ‘L’ as the initial consonant in a syllable. At the end it is pronounced like an English ‘n’ in Thai. Consequently ‘hotel” becomes ‘hoten”, and ‘Apple’-‘Appon’.

Regardless, the recipes on her site look to me like the real deal. They are not what you find in most “Thai Restaurants” in the United States. Chicken Feet in red sauce, and Haw Mawk Prik Kai  and Kanom Jiin Nam Ya Tin Kai are on my list to try.


Gaeng Mussaman

กำลังทำเครื่องแกงมัสมั่น มีข่าขมิ้นมะกรูดสดสด แต่มันฝรั่งกินไม่ได้ เป็นแพ้  จะทำ
I am working on a meal, and am making Gaeng Mussaman แกงมัสมั่น . You can buy premixed curry paste and they make fine food. But, if I am going to go to the trouble of cooking, I am going to make it a real feed, fine food. My last shot at a meal like this included Gaeng Panaeng (the recipe for the paste is further down the blog). It was certainly one of the finest dishes I ever have made. I will vary from tradition and leave out the potatoes as my relationship with them is inverted. I was considering Taro as a substitute but am not because of oxalates. I don’t want any more kidney stones in my future. I am thinking about sweet potatoes and cooked daikon as substitues, I think I will use both.

Like the Panaeng I did my preliminary research on the web. I have fresh Kaffir Lime Skin, Turmeric, Bay Leaf, and Galanga. The turmeric galanga and kaffir lime are terrific. I favor complex recipes so I amalgamated a few to get to the recipe below. I also include lesser ginger everytime I use galangal. I made the start of the curry paste this evening. It is still without shallot cinnamon and hot pepper but is superb.

My two sources for the paste recipe are:


I almost certainly fiddle with proportions as I make it depending and the taste of the peppers I use and freshness of the spices. As normal for me if the recipe calls for galanga I add a bit of lesser ginger.

  • 7-10 dried or fresh hot chiles, Thai, Serrano Piquin or combination
  • 6 cloves
  • 2-inch stick of cinnamon
  • Seeds from one black cardomom pod
  • 1 teaspoon corriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 bay leaves, crushed fine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoon Kaffir Lime skin
  • 1/4 cup shallot minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced galangal,
  • 1 teaspoon lesser ginger if available.
  • 2-inch piece of fresh turmeric, or 2 teaspoons powdered
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, minced
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste

I am not sure if I will make the dish with poultry, beef, fish or seafood. I have had this curry paste with tofu before as well, and may leave out the shrimp paste and go vegan.  I will have to taste the paste and see.

Plants in the yard.

This is some of what I am growing in my yard. Lots of these were given to me by Thuy! Many Thanks.

  • Wild Hot PeppersIMG_0001
  • มะกรูด-Kaffir lime.  looks like a cross between ugly fruit and a lime. The leaf is used in many classic Thai dishes. The fruit is more fragrant than regular limes, but less juicy.

    Kaffir Lime

    Kaffir Lime

  • น้อยหน่า- Custard Apple aka soursop This is a SE Asian relative of the cherimoya and North American pawpaw.

    Custard Apple

    Custard Apple

  • ละมุดเม็กซิโก 1 ต้น ละมุดไทย 1ต้น Sapote aka Mamey 2 trees.  This one and its frontyard cousin both did not make it through the winter. Time to try again.



  • Amaranth. I am holding back on eating until I identify this as actual amaranth. (gone already)
  • มะม่วง ปลูกจากเมล็ดแบบลอตเตอรี่ .Mango Trees, multiple. These were planted from seed. I will be luck to see mangos from them. 7 come 11.

    Mango, Dragon fruit, Kale

    Mango, Dragon fruit, Kale

  • แก้วมังกร Dragon Fruit plants, multiple. I have two different starts. This is a succulent and seems easy to grow but hard to keep the squirrels away from.
    Dragon Fruit

    Dragon Fruit

    Mango, Dragon fruit, Kale

    Mango, Dragon fruit, Kale…Third year transplanted kale is dead.

  • ใบกระวาน Bay tree. I am told that this is a genuine Bay and not the Texas Bay tree. Its doing well. Galangal is doing well. Turmeric looks GREAT.

    Bay, Turmeric, Galangal, Rosemary,etc.

    Bay, Turmeric, Galangal, Rosemary,etc.

  • มะละกอ Papaya has seen better days.



  • Rosemary (in the Bay Tree photo above)
  • Sweet Basil.
  • โหระพา Thai Basil.(gone)
  • กะเพรา Holy Basil.Hybrid basil is everywhere.

    Holy Basil

    Holy Basil

  • มะเดื่อ-Fig  This needs more light. Probably have to trim back the prickly pear.
  • เงาะ-Rambutan seedlings. This would be great if they work. They are like big hairy lychee

    Rambutan, Tomato, and Butterfly bush

    Rambutan, Tomato, and Butterfly bush

  • สะระแหน่ Mint.Having trouble with the mint.(brown thumb syndrome)new plants
  • ตะไคร้ Lemon Grass.Planted from routed stock from the grocery. Needs bigger planting



  • ขมิ้น-Turmeric planted from roots from the grocery. This is doing GREAT this year and is crowding out my galanga. (bay tree photo above)
  • ข่า-Galangal. A relative of ginger like the turmeric above. Galangal AKA ka and laos is not doing that well. It will get its own pot. (bay tree photo above)
  • ส้ม-Orange. This tree came with the house and produces large oranges that taste a bit like navel oranges.



  • ส้มอื่น  Kumquat



  • Small sour oranges. These are useful. I threw one at Tegarden today. They replace limes sometimes. They also make great orangeaid. I try to get at least one into very batch of som tom.
  • ส้มโอ (คล้ายๆ) – Grapefruit This is a recent transplant and came with little root. It appears to have died. Since it was originally planted from seed we may have some luck if it comes up again from the root. Gone,, bad transplant.
  • Prickly pear cactus fruit and leaves. I have stopped eating these because of concerns over oxalic acid and kidney stones กระบองเพชร
  • มะขาม- Tamarind seedlings  in the ground. The seed pods are sour tasting and can be used in a variety of cooking or eaten a few at a time raw. Too much and จุดจุด.
  • Lychee seeds in soil. Did not make it.
  • Acorn (Live Oak) ลูกโอ๊ก Our live out seems to produce about 200# a year. I am told that Live Oak produce little tannin in the acorns. This year I hope to harvest and make something; soup?bread?pancakes?
  • celery . This may just be a replanted heart. It is developing a big root. I will have to read up and make sure celery root is actually celery root. died.
  • Loquat are small ละมุด sized fruit, but probably not related. They are very juicey and sweet but do not store. They require almost nothing to grow down here.



  • Texas Ebony. I am told that the seeds can be roasted to make a coffee substitute. It has no caffeine. I would verify this before trying it. It is a relative of the tamarind, mesquite and locust trees. It is a beautiful and very hard. Like other members of the family it is hard on saw blades. Benny is cultivating a Texas Ebony Bonzai.
  • ขนุน Jackfruit, I was given some seed by Sebastian. August 25, one  sprouted. I have two in the ground now and have given a few away. Jackfruit Carnitas (have not tried hem) .These jackfruit did not winter. I have one left in a pot.
  • Jackfruit



Som Tam ส้มตำ Recipe, aka Green Papaya Salad

There are lots of region variations of this dish. I prefer making it with dead green papaya, but any combination of carrots and diakon (use a shreader and don’t pound them) is also fine. I have used cabbage and nopalitos but without much success.
The key to success  is a balance of flavors. As the ingredients vary in intensity, taste and adjust the recipe as needed.

In a stoneware mortar from Dankwean, with a wooden pestle or by other means, pound 3 or four black pepper corns, 8 small cloves of garlic, 5- chilli pequins (also known as bird pepper or mouse shit pepper) until well mashed or fine. You can use 3 serrano peppers, or if you want no heat, a mild poblano. Standard US sweet green peppers are better than nothing but not quite right.
If available toast in a dry skillet 1/8 cup dried shrimp (you want to just start to toast and for them all to get hot). Add the shrimp to the mortar and pound some more. You can do the same with fresh toasted peanuts. Add 2 tablespoons of lime juice (you can use some sour orange juice or mashed kumquat as well), and 2 tablespons of fish sauce. You may substitute a teaspoon of shrimp paste or fish paste for 1 tablespoon of fish sauce.

Julliene 3-4 cups of peeled dead green papaya (1/16- 1/8″ strips) (probably not available in a regular grocery store). To do this the Thai way, peel the whole papaya. Hold the whole papaya in one hand with the stem end facing towards you. Take a straight bladed knife and quickly chop parallel cuts into the papaya as you turn it. When you have chopped it sufficiently take a coarse vegetable peeler and peel off the no julliened strips. A coarse shredder is not really sufficiently thin, but “any som tam ส้มตำ is better than no som tam” no?

Picture of Julliened strips

In batches take the papaya and pound them medium gently in the mortar until slightly translucent. Place them in a serving dish. When all the papaya is pounded make sure it is well mixed. Taste it. It should be peppery, garlicy, and a bit fishy. Usually I have to add some more fish sauce  and sometimes lime juice. The traditional recipe calls for a bit of raw cane sugar (jaggery). I generally leave it out.

Chopped tomato’s and a bit of parsley or celery leaves make good garni . T

Green papaya can be hard on the digestive track due to enzymes. You should probably hold back on this and limit yourself to less than a cup a day. It can cause sores just like pineapple and green mango.

แซบหลาย (f)saep (r)lai


ตำ Tam (the “T” is pronounced as a plosive predental a hard D like in “Tortilla” ) is a style of cooking, or spicing.
The best known version of this is Green Papaya Salad, Somtam. In Thai this salad has some other names, Tam Bakhung. Bakhung is Lao for papaya. In Thai papaya is “malakoh” and another name is Malakoh Bok Bok. “Bok Bok” is the sound of the pestle in the mortar. I could be reading this wrong but it has some less than faint sexual overtones. The pestle “saag” is slang for penis, pot is slang for vagina. Occasionally when I talk about buying a Thai mortar and pestle the day before my wedding it gets a bit of attention.
Tam, basic recipe:
Fish Paste or Shrimp Paste
Fish Sauce ( you can skip the paste, but you will make characterless Tam)
Garlic, raw
Hot Pepper, Back when I had a chilli pequin plant this was the only dish where I got it really spicy.
Lime juice. You see this translated as lemon juice, but its a bad translation in the US. Use limes.
This picture is of green mango salad, not green papaya. Our local grocery store had them in 2.2 pound bags. The were probably chill damaged or something. They did not have a price. Usually I walk past unpriced produce. But these were dead green mangos. What a treat! Don’t eat too many unless you like ulcers.
In order for this to seem really authentic these days it seems to need some salted land crab. Generally I stay away from this authenticity unless given no choice.
Since Tam is a style of cooking you can do a lot of different things with it. Carrot is a great vege for it. I like adding a bit of shredded turnip to just about any tam. But straight turnip is not great. Tam chicken feet can be had. I have seen chunks of cooked liver tam in the market. Noodles get tammed pretty frequently. Corn, fruit, foot long beans, cucumber, shrimp, the list goes on and on. If you want to see pictures do a picture google search for ตำ .
Green papaya is full of enzymes as is green mango. Papain the enzyme in papaya helps keep intestinal parasites under control and can kill some. When I first lived in Dankwian (10 months ’88-’89) it was made and eaten once a day in the late afternoon. I think that this is specifically to keep parasites under control and to not eat too much, its just a snack. Nong Fon, an Nong Gaowow used to make it. These wonderful women helped keep me and Gail alive when we were there. One of the great joys of Fazebuk has been to meet up with them again. I saw N. Gaowow again in 2019, and Fon again this year. They have the same smiles.
You need a mortar, pestle and spoon to make somtam, or any tam for that matter. The dishes are easy to make and more difficult than they seem to get right. It is all about balance, and with strong flavors it is hard to find the sweet spot in the middle.
I have never had bad somtam in Thailand. Restaurants in the US can make absolutely awful stuff. Generally I never order it. I would rather have them screw up the national dish Tom Yum Kung or someth ing else I care about. Somtam is a religious culinary experience. To serve some of the stuff I have been served should deal a deathblow to the cooks karma and they should wake up as dogs.
There are really great videos on making it on youtube. I tend to like the somtam videos from Lao. They seem right to me. I think that if you are going to learn to make this dish you have to watch a good video first. This guy seems to not be the house’ prime somtam maker, but clearly its not his first time either.
If you absolutely cannot take the heat do not [use] bell peppers. Get some of those little hot house peppers or mild poblanos.
Saap (like tree sap but with a falling [tone] and long lasting vowel,mean delicious in NE dialect) lai (pronounced like lye but should also be drawn out) together this is “very delicious”
Papaya, guava and many varieties of mango are mostly eaten green. Green papaya is used in gaengs (what we call curries) . It is rare to eat cooked papaya in restaurants. Like cooked turnip in the US it seems to have the sense of being food for the poor It showed up in a few dishes in the Santi Asoke compound I visit. They grow almost all the food that they eat.
Reports are that the seeds of papaya are edible. I have not seen them eaten in Thailand. This makes me hesitant. I have some real faith in Thai folk knowledge. Cultural practices often make a lot of health sense. Walking through the woods with a friend who grew up very poor I was introduced to leaves and fruit to eat. “This only a handfull a day”, “This only if you are very hungry, but it tastes good.” “You have to cook this”. Thais not eating the seeds makes question the practice although web searches makes this seem OK. As an aside, people eat jackfruit seeds cooked in several ways. Mango seeds are apparently eatable but not very palatable. One of my friends said that they are an important food source in famine in India. I am not a food safety expert… I have learned to not trust what I read on the web about the safety of unusual foods.