Tag Archives: Thai

Love me some Tom Yum

I’m sick :( .

It started with Liz about three days ago. She said she felt a little under the weather and wasn’t as insanely happypeppyfabulous as she normally is. She kept to her bed a bit more than usual. Then, last evening, I started to develop a slight wheeze. I sounded like an old man trying to fight off consumption. I think Ive got the black lung, Pop. Then, early this morning, Anna’s boyfriend emerged from her bedroom and declared “Anna’s sick.” He wandered into the kitchen and stared blankly at a canister of Quaker rolled oats. “What do I put in oatmeal?” he asked. A non-instant newbie, I instructed him: Milk. Cinnamon. Raisins. Almonds. Almond butter. A pinch of salt.

As I prepared my own breakfast, I felt it. The body aches were sprouting from the center of my upper back and unraveling into my shoulders and limbs. I felt chilled and searing hot at the same time. And I couldn’t taste my belgian waffle. Pissed.

So, all I have done today is lay in my bed and study and waste time on the internet. I left the house once to go to Reproductive Nutrition and pick up some fish sauce from the local Asian market. It is the one ingredient that has evaded me for years. Damn that fish sauce. Of course it only comes in monstrously large bottles, because it is such a cooking staple for a significant portion of the world. I also picked up some lemongrass and thai chilis. I’ve got Tom Yum on my mind.

Thai food is not something I ever crave, unlike “New American” cuisine, Tex Mex, hippy food, and the occasional sushi and Chinese food. However, every time I do encounter Thai food, I love it. It is incredibly nourishing while still being full of flavor. The creamy coconut milk, spicy chilis, salty fish sauce, aromatic spices, and sweet rice come together in a symphony of deliciousness.

Tuesday, in my MCAT class, my friend Jacqui brought Tom Yum soup to class and taunted me with it for the following three hours. A drop of saliva literally fell onto my Ochem book. It was disgusting.

So, tonight I finally made my own Thai food and I would just like to say

it was superb.

And the perfect remedy for a sneezy, sickly college kid.

Traditional Thai Tom Yum Soup

Recipe: Makes 2 large servings

Prep time: 15 minutes *  Cook time: 30 minutes * Difficulty: Low

from Thaifood.com

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, lower 1/3 finely minced
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (fresh or frozen at Asian stores)
  • 20 raw shrimp, shelled (about 40-50 g protein worth)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (I used 1 1/2)
  • 1-2 small red chilies, minced (I used 1)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Handful shiitake mushrooms (I used 2 crimini)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 can coconut milk (USE FULL FAT, YA HO!)
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • optional: additional vegetables (I used 2 baby bok choy and a handful of mung bean sprouts) additional chilies, chili sauce, brown sugar, or lime juice

Directions – 

  1. Pour the stock into a deep cooking pot and turn heat to medium high. Add lemongrass to the pot, including the upper part you didnt mince. Boil 5-6 minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Add garlic, chili, lime leaves, and mushrooms to broth. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp, bell pepper, bok choy, and bean sprouts. Simmer 5-6 minutes, or until shrimp are pink.
  4. Turn down the heat to low and add 1/2 can of coconut mlk plus the fish sauce. Taste test the soup for spice and salt, adding more chili or fish sauce as desired. If too sour, add 1 tsp brown sugar. If too salty, add a squeeze of lime juice. Add more coconut milk for a creamier soup (I added the whole can).
  5. 5. Serve in bowls with fresh cilantro (aka coriander) sprinkled on top. Enjoy!!

Seriously, just put on your big girl panties (or briefs?)  and go buy the “exotic” ingredients. This is a recipe worth repeating again and again. You can freeze the lime leaves and the fish sauce stays good…. forever.


Chilies * filled with capsaicin which can help fight inflammation. They have also been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood triglycerides, and thus can be considered heart healthy. The heat that you feel after eating chili peppers has to come from somewhere – that would be your metabolism! Also, a recent study showed that eating just a little chili pepper a day helped participants sleep better that night.

Garlic * packed with antioxidants that fight aging, cancer, and heart disease. Garlic can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and eliminate free radicals (which cause cellular damage). It is also used to treat asthma and certain unpleasant infections.

Shrimp * extremely high in protein and low in fat! Contains selenium, tryptophan, vitamin D (key for bone health), B12, iron (needed for a healthy thyroid), phosphorous, B3, and zinc. The fat that shrimp does contain is the healthy monounsaturated kind.

Bell peppers * an extremely potent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants. They also contain fiber, B6, folate, and vitamin K.

Coconut * coconut gets a bad rap because of its saturated fat content, but its fatty acids are mainly medium-chain triglycerides, not long-chain. The long-chain triglycerides are bad for our cholesterol levels, but coconut has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Animal studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can increase metabolism.

Legit Thai Salad

I don’t know about you, but one of my pet peeves is when restaurants title a dish in a misleading way. Like whenever they have “Mexican salad” or “Asian stir fry” and it doesn’t resemble anything that an actual Mexican or Asian would eat. Not to mention that Asia is huge and encompasses so many different countries and diverse cultures… I also find it pretty funny when restaurants boast about their Cuban food. I have been to Cuba, and their food is definitely not a strong point. The street food is mainly cheese sandwiches, meh pastries, and really greasy pizza. However, I did have some amazing (and healthy) dishes while I was there! Like here:

My recipe for today is for my Thai Salad. It is so good! I had it for an appetizer at lunch and dinner yesterday. I can vouch for its authenticity because…

I know you foodies want some of this:

I stalk monks like its my job…

I tried to eat literally everything I saw while I was there. In some cases, I bit off more than I could chew. Like when I literally started crying from the amount of red chili peppers in my fruit baggy. They are big on chopped fruit, in a bag, with lime juice, sugar, and red chili peppers. He asked me if I wanted it tourist style or local style. I went for local. Which means 4 or 5 chili peppers instead of 1. BIG mistake. Can’t hang, can’t hang.

The only not-that-Thai ingredient that I added is a pinch of cumin and a sprinkle of cinnamon. The cumin isn’t key, but the cinnamon issss.

Recipe: Serves 1

Chop up 2 large handfuls worth of green cabbage, 1/4 of a red bell pepper, a handful of mushrooms, and some avocado. Throw into a bowl.

Squeeze the juice of 1/3 of a lime into the bowl. Add 1 tbsp of brown sugar, a pinch of cumin, a shake of cinnamon, and as much cayenne pepper as you like/can handle.

Stir well and enjoy!


Cabbage * contains fiber and antioxidants.

Red bell Pepper * the bright color is an indication of its high concentration of vitamins. It has tons of vitamin A, carotenoids, and vitamin C. Of green, red, and yellow bell peppers, red ones are technically the most nutrient dense.

Mushrooms * a great source of niacin, potassium, and selenium!

Cayenne pepper * high in antioxidants and temporarily raises the metabolism!

Lime juice * has been linked to weight loss, improved digestion, constipation relief, treatment of scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), and respiratory disorder improvement.

Is there anybody out there?

This lunch took about 5 minutes to make! It’s a tangy Thai Beef wrap, and if you don’t have all the ingredients, its not a big deal. Also, all you veggies out there can sub the beef for seitan or gilled tofu, no probs.

Recipe: Serves 1

For the sauce – In a bowl, mix together about a tablespoon of ketchup, a tablespoon of tamari sauce (or soy, if you prefer), a squeeze of lime, a pinch of red pepper flakes and cumin, and a sprinkle of chopped garlic and fresh grated ginger. (One of my roomies threw away my ginger root because she thought it looked like a gnarled creepy thing, so I had to use a spoonful of mango-ginger chutney instead. Worked.)

Peel and slice a third of a cucumber, carrot, and red bell paper into thin long strips.

Lay out a warm whole wheat tortilla and spread some of the sauce on it. Use the rest to coat the veggies. Place a couple slices of roast beef (or any left over beef that you have on hand) on the tortilla, top with veggies, and roll up!


Tamari * Contains antioxidants and tryptophan. Fermented soy products are debated over, some say they are bad for health because of the high salt content. In my opinion, if your diet is mainly based on whole, healthy foods, a little tamari or soy sauce isnt gonna hurtcha. Other believe that fermented soy has many positive, anti aging effects on the body.

Ginger * Soothes the stomach and aids in digestion!

Lean beef * Prime source of iron and B vitamins, and protein of course.

Red bell pepper * The bright color is an indication of its high concentration of vitamins. It has tons of vitamin A, carotenoids, and vitamin C. Of green, red, and yellow bell peppers, red ones are technically the most nutrient dense.