If you have read anything I have written over the past year, you will see that I absolutely love Pinterest and it has literally revolutionized my life! Of course I believe in order to have a healthy mentality about Pinterest, you have to be a mindful consumer. It is easy to get obsessed (I definitely went through that phase) and spend hours re-pinning but more so I think it can become a source to fuel unnecessary dissatisfaction with your life, body image, possessions etc. So I present this obvious caution. Pin what inspires you, pin things you want to try, pin the exciting but don’t let Pinterest make you feel inadequate as a person; whether it’s about who you are, how you look, the kind of parent/spouse/friend you are, or the possessions you have. You can’t put the world’s best chef, best artist, best athlete, funniest comedian, the furthest traveler, wisest scholar etc into one perfectly designed room and realistically compare yourself to all of them and come out feeling awesome! But, some of their work will be beautiful to look at, inspire hard work, provide great insight and make you laugh when you need it most. That to me is what Pinterest has added to my life (and also its a place for me to put things I find on-line and want to remember because I have the worst memory!)
Having said all that, I am starting a new feature on the Grumbling Belly entitled Pinteresting Mondays! I weekly (in fact multiple times a week) try out new recipes I have found on Pinterest and thought it was about time to start sharing all the great food I have discovered. I won’t be pinning just anything, only the recipes I have really liked, or slightly adapted. I have no interest in berating a recipe that didn’t come out right or insensitively marring someone else’s hard work in their kitchen. If you are interested in following my Pinterest Boards, click here. I would be happy to welcome you into my Pinterest world but you might learn more about me than you bargained for!
For our first Pinteresting Monday, I thought we could explore my all time favourite soup; Tom Kha Gai (Thai flavours with chicken and coconut milk). When I lived near Chattanooga TN, my husband and I frequented a fantastic Thai restaurant (Rain Thai Bistro) and were completely enthralled by each item on their menu. Every time we visited, we had the hardest time choosing what to order especially for an appetizer. Basil rolls or tom kha gai….it was like choosing between our (non-existent) children! So, when I came across a recipe for Tom Kha Gai on Pinterest, I was all in! Now, we could have it at home as often as we wanted and eliminate the dreaded moment at Rain when the server came for our order. I bought all the necessary ingredients, came home, recipe in hand, and a sense of trepidation began stirring in my stomach….what if it wasn’t as good, how could it be? could any soup match the excellence of Rain? Fortunately the recipe is sooooo easy that it was ready in about 20 minutes and my anxiety did not last long! I couldn’t believe how delicious this soup was and even my husband, who is the real Thai tester, could not stop umming and ahhing. I recommend this whole heartedly and have some cheats to make it even easier (and perhaps a little cheaper).
Tom Kha Gai
originally found on myrecipes.com submitted by Jiranooch Shapiro, from Anchorage, AK. (My comments and suggestions are in bold.)
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk (I don’t recommend using light coconut milk if you prefer your soups to have a silky texture)
1 can (14 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
6 quarter-size slices fresh ginger * (or 2 tbsp of tube-see below)
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut in 1-in. pieces* (or 2 tbsp of tube-see below)
1 pound boned, skinned chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-in. chunks
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce** (nuoc mam or nam pla) (I always use about another 1/2 tablespoon for extra flavour.)
1 teaspoon sugar (this can be omitted without any loss of taste, esp if you add more fish sauce)
1 teaspoon Thai chili paste (Siracha is my favourite)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
(* If you don’t frequently make other recipes with ginger or lemongrass, they can be expensive to buy and go to waste quickly, so here is a trick I have discovered. Purchase a Gourmet Garden tube of fresh lemongrass and ginger. I have always found them at the local grocery store (even Walmart!) in the fresh herbs section. They last for three months and are the best mess-free convenient alternative. I don’t recommend all their herbs but these two options are very comparable to the fresh ones.)
(** you can find Thai Fish Sauce from most grocery stores in the Asian section. It might seem a bit pricey but it lasts for ages)
In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, broth, ginger, and lemongrass and bring to boil over high heat. Add chicken, mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili paste. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is firm and opaque, 5 to 10 minutes. (I do no less than 10 minutes for deeper flavour) Discard lemongrass (if using fresh stalks, otherwise the type from the tube just disintegrates and you don’t need to remove it). Garnish servings with basil and cilantro. (I actually add basil and cilantro the last couple of minutes and I recommend only using fresh herbs here.)
This soup makes about 4-5 servings and is even better the next day . Once you buy the tube of ginger and lemongrass, and get the fish sauce, this recipe is so easy to shop for and make on a busy week night.