the appetizer:

The Elements of Life: A Contemporary Guide to Thai Recipes and Traditions for Healthier Living by Su-Mei Yu, includes excerpts and recipes like Thai Curries; Jungle Soup Gaeng Paa; Almond Milk; Stir-Fried Okra; and Ceviche, Thai Style Plah Pla.


Jungle Soup Gaeng Paa


Jungle Soup
Gaeng Paa

Makes 4 servings


This seasoning paste is a perfect balance of opposite elements: Earth and Wind. Warming herbs and spices, the tastes and flavors of the Wind element, are natural protectors of the respiratory and digestive systems.

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 to 10 dried de arbor chiles or chiles Japones, softened in warm water;
         dried thoroughly, and minced
  • 1 teaspoon white peppercorns, dry-roasted and ground
  • 12 thin slices galangal or fresh ginger; slightly pounded
  • 4 shallots, peeled, 1 minced, 3 slightly pounded
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, tender inner stalk
         cut into 3-inch lengths and slightly pounded
  • 3 krachai (Chinese keys or lesser galangal; optional), slivered
  • 12 kaffir lime leaves, torn, or zest of 1 lime, cut into slivers
  • 10 fresh Thai or 5 fresh serrano chiles, slightly pounded
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 6 Thai eggplants, quartered, or 1 Japanese eggplant,
         cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 cups oyster mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound red snapper; catfish, or halibut fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 10 to 12 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh holy or Thai basil or peppermint leaves

In a mortar, pound 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the garlic into a paste. Add the dried chiles, ground pepper, and 6 slices of the galangal and pound until incorporated and reduced to a paste. Add the minced shallot and pound to incorporate. (This will keep, refrigerated, in an airtight container for 2 weeks.)

Bring the water to a boil. Add the chile paste, the remaining galangal, the slightly pounded shallots, lemongrass, krachai, if using, lime leaves, and fresh chiles. When the broth returns to a boil, add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the fish sauce. Cover; reduce the heat to low, and let the broth simmer for 7 minutes. Add the eggplants, cover; increase the heat to medium-low, and cook for another 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cover; and cook for another 7 minutes, then add the fish. As soon as the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes, add the parsley and basil. Serve with hot white, brown, or red rice.

  • from:
    The Elements of Life:
    A Contemporary Guide to Thai Recipes
    and Traditions for Healthier Living
  • by Su-Mei Yu
  • Wiley 2009
  • Hardcover; 336 pages; $35.00
  • ISBN-10: 0471757071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-471-75707-81
  • Reprinted by permission.

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The Elements of Life


This page created August 2010

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