panang curry soup

It was just sitting there, taunting me. “You can’t drink me, silly lady. I’m a sauce! Not a soup.” I don’t like to be told what to do. So I took one look at the remnants of the panang curry from our favorite thai place, told it to shut it’s stupid panang curry mouth, and drank it.

It was right. It was too rich to be drunk. But it’s flavors—oh, it’s flavors!—creamy coconut, salty chicken broth, spicy red curry; they were destined to be in sippable form. So I set out to make this classic thai dish into a soup that can be both eaten and slurped, both without judgment.

I began with the classic panang curry ingredients: carrots, scallions, lime, shallot, ginger, garlic, and mushroom. For body I added yam, two types of potato, and boneless, skinless chicken thighs to start the broth.

You’ll also need thai red curry paste (available in most grocery stores), chicken broth, and coconut milk. Not pictured but also needed: olive oil, butter, water and flour.

Begin by rinsing the chicken and patting it dry. Trim off any excess fat, check for stray bones, and then cut into 1″ pieces.

Brown the chicken in a bit of oil until no longer pink. It’s best to do this in a big pot so you can make the soup in it, too.

While the chicken is cooking, you can mince the garlic and shallot…

…peel and chop the carrot…

…and dice the potatoes (peel the yam first).

Remove the chicken from the pot, add a bit more oil, and brown the garlic and shallot.

Add the potatoes and carrot and cook until tender.

Meanwhile, chop the shallots…

…and quarter the mushrooms (I like to lop off the very end of the stems first, but it’s not completely necessary).

Remove the potatoes and carrots from the pot. Melt the butter and quickly stir in the flour to make a roux.

Whisk in the broth, coconut milk and red curry paste, scraping the bottom of the pan to release all of the browned bits.

Add the chicken, vegetables, mushrooms, and scallions. Zest and juice half of the lime into the soup.

Grate in the ginger (I like to use the microplane for this, but if you don’t have one, the thin side of a cheese grater works just fine). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it reaches the thickness you desire.

Serve with more chopped scallions and a slice of lime if desired, and a crusty bread, pita or naan on the side for dipping. Breathe it in. Savor. And slurp away.

Panang Curry Soup        printable recipe

Serve with a crusty bread, toasted pita or warmed naan for sopping up the fragrant, spicy broth.

Active time: 30 minutes Total time: 1 hour. 

Serves 8

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 small yam
  • 1 large yukon gold potato
  • 1 large red potato
  • 1 small bunch scallions
  • 1/2 lb crimini or white mushrooms
  • 1 piece ginger root, roughly the size of your finger
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth or chicken stock
  • 2 cans coconut milk (not light)
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste (more if your like more spice)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 lime
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan (preferably one you can create the whole pot of soup in) over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown the chicken with the salt until no longer pink, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot.
2. Mince the garlic and shallot. Peel the carrots and cut into 1/2″ coins. Peel the yam and dice (I find a 3/4″ dice works well for soups) along with the potatoes.  Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot and add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add the shallot and saute for 1 minute more. Add the carrots, yam and potatoes; reduce heat to medium and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Remove from pot.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, chop the scallions and quarter the mushrooms. Peel the ginger root. Set aside.
4. In the same pot, melt the butter and quickly stir in the flour, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth, coconut milk, red curry paste and water, scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir to release the browned bits. Add the chicken, carrot and potato mixture, mushrooms, and scallions (reserving a few tablespoons of scallions for serving, if desired). Zest and juice half of the lime into the soup, reserving the other half of the lime for serving. Grate the ginger into the soup. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, curry paste or lime if needed. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until soup reaches the thickness you desire. Taste once again for seasoning and serve.




chicken teriyaki

We don’t have a heck of a lot of fast food in Seattle. Most folks around here snub their noses at McDonald’s, Burger King and Arby’s (all for good reason, although I admit I occasionally indulge in the King’s chicken sangwich from time to time when I’m traveling). If we do have a signature “fast food” though, it’s surely teriyaki. Teriyaki joints in the Big Rainy are almost as frequent as coffee shops. I’ve yet to find one that’s spectacular, but most are passable and can provide you with a quick, somewhat healthy lunch. It’s cheap, filling, and satisfying.

But as is the case with most takeout, you can make it better at home. In fact, you can make great chicken teriyaki, and it’s easier than you think.

Start with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You’ll get the best flavor from the organic, free-range variety. Since this is a very simple dish, the quality of chicken you buy really matters. Grab your favorite teriyaki sauce (I like Yoshida’s Original Gourmet Sauce—stay far away from Kikkoman), and a few cloves of garlic.

Mince the garlic. I like my handy dandy garlic twist. All you do is stick the naked cloves in…

…give it a twirl and your garlic is perfectly minced. Plus, no smelly garlic hands.

Stir the garlic in with the teriyaki sauce.

Rinse and pat dry your chicken thighs, then place them in a large Ziploc bag. Pour in the teriyaki marinade. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 24.

When you’re ready to eat, grill the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat. I always use thighs when I’m going to grill chicken—the higher fat content means they won’t dry out like breasts do.

Slice. Serve. Savor.

It’s your favorite takeout, but at home. With much more flavor. And probably cheaper. No need to visit that Teriyaki joint at the strip mall again.


Chicken Teriyaki  printable yaki

The key to this simple dish is quality chicken and good teriyaki sauce. Buy organic, free-range chicken if you can. Serves 3-4 as a main course. 

Prep Time: 5 minutes       Marinating Time: at least 6 hours     Cook Time: 8 minutes

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 c teriyaki sauce
1. Rinse the chicken thighs. Pat dry and place in a large Ziploc bag.
2. Mince the garlic. Stir into the teriyaki sauce. Pour sauce over chicken, seal, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 24 hours.
3. Preheat grill to medium. Grill chicken thighs for 3-4 minutes per side, or until no longer pink in the center. Serve with rice and vegetables.



vietnamese beef stew (bò kho)

On saturday evening my friend Nancy and I were headed out to a friend’s birthday party (the aforementioned karaoke extravaganza). I came over to pick her up, chat a bit, and hang out kid-free before heading to the festivities. Upon entering her house I was greeted by one of the most unbelievable food smells I have ever encountered.

“WHAT are you cooking?” I practically shouted.

“Oh, it’s just a Vietnamese beef stew,” she replied casually, as if that pot of bubbling, boiling heaven sitting on the stove was no big deal.

Lucky for me they hadn’t eaten yetò, so I got to join her at the table for a bowl of this incredible stew. It’s thick, rich, and deeply spicy in a hot-but-doesn’t-burn sort of way. The beef is fall-apart tender, and the carrots and mushrooms lend texture and tiny bites of deliciousness.

Even luckier for me, she gave me her recipe.

You must make this. You have to make this. There is no way for me to tell you how important it is that you make this. Like, NOW.


You’ll need meat. My dealer hooked me up with the goods.

You’ll also need some flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Stick it on a plate.

You’ll need garlic two ways: three cloves lightly smashed and four to five minced.

Now here’s where that incredible, indescribable flavor comes from: spice packets available at the Asian market. You’ll need one labeled “Gia Vi Nau Bun Bo Hue” and one called “Gia Vi Nau Bo Kho“. They were easy to find on the spice aisle and cost only $0.79 each.

If you can’t find these, you can re-create the Bo Kho packet by mixing paprika, anise, garlic, chili powder, onion powder, ginger and cloves in descending order of ratio (I haven’t done this, so I can’t help ya much). If you can make your way to an Asian market or order them online, I highly recommend the ease and low price of the pre-mixed stuff.

Begin by dredging the beef in the flour mixture.

Heat two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat and throw in your smashed garlic. Cook for about one to two minutes just to flavor the oil.

Remove the garlic…

…and throw in the floured beef.

Brown it, baby.

Once it’s becoming evenly browned on all sides, toss in your minced garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Add a little red wine to the pot to de-glaze*, stirring rapidly to release all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

*Traditionally, Vietnamese don’t use wine in this recipe. But this isn’t a traditional recipe, it’s just my friend Nancy’s way of making it. So yell at her. Not at me.

Next, add enough water to cover the beef, plus about a half an inch.

Return pan to the stove and add your spices: a half-packet of Bo Kho and three tablespoons of Bo Hue. You can see how powerful the spices are already—they change the water color immediately.

Now you need to measure out some other stuff. 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup sugar, and one teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Add all of those ingredients to the broth, give it a good stir, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, prep your veggies. Carrots, mushrooms, or whatever else you’d like to add: leeks, bok choy, potatoes, onion, etc. This stew would work nicely with pretty much any veggie you feel like adding.

Dice your mushrooms into quarters…

…and your peeled carrots into half-inch rounds.

By now the stew has thickened quite a bit. Throw in your veggies and add more water if it looks too thick for your liking. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat and simmer for another 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The final result?

Oh my.

I find it really hard to describe the flavors of this stew because it’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. It’s the tiniest bit sweet, spicy in an almost smoky way, and rich from the meat but well-rounded with flavors from the garlic and vegetables.

It’s just something you’ll have to try to believe.

Oh, the carrots. They were probably my favorite part.

Wait, no. The beef and broth. That was my favorite part.

Actually, just inhaling it. That was my favorite part.

The sooner you make this, the sooner you will realize what your life has been missing.



Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho), Nancy’s Way

  • 2 pounds stew meat, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 3/4 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves smashed garlic
  • 4-5 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 packet Bo Kho spices (see above)
  • 3 tablespoons Bo Hue spices (see above)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 small carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ rounds
  • 2-3 cups quartered mushrooms

In a large pot, heat the oil with the smashed garlic over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes until the garlic becomes aromatic. Remove the garlic cloves. Dredge the beef pieces in the flour mixture and add to the oil. Cook, stirring often, until evenly browned on all sides. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the red wine and de-glaze, scraping all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add enough water to the pot to cover the beef by a half-inch. Stir in the sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, salt and pepper, half of the Bo Kho spices and three tablespoons of the Bo Hue spices. Bring to a boil, turn heat to medium-low, and let simmer uncovered for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the vegetables and simmer for an additional 90 minutes. Serves 6. A toasted, crusty bread works nicely for sopping up the broth.