As told by Joe Arena
Someday, I will read Jennifer Brennan’s 1981 classic The Original Thai Cookbook cover-to-cover. It is the first complete, authentic Thai cookbook published in America. I plan to visit the Thai grocery store on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood until I have in hand every single ingredient listed in the book.
In the meantime, here is a coconut soup recipe guaranteed to make a fresh, easy, and delicious weeknight meal.
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk (Chaokoh brand recommended)
1-2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
6 quarter-sized ginger slices
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2-3 Asian eggplants, cut into one-inch pieces and quartered,
1 tbsp. Thai fish sauce (nam pla) (3 Crabs Brand recommended)
1 tbsp. chili paste (Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce, Huy Fong Foods brand recommended)
2 tbsp. cilantro
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
Cut the chicken thighs into 1 inch pieces.
In a medium sauté pan, begin softening the eggplant in 1-2 tbsp. of coconut oil.
In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, chicken broth, ginger slices, and lemongrass. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Add chicken thighs, fish sauce, and chili paste. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Halfway through, add the eggplant. Discard the lemongrass.
Garnish each serving with lime juice, cilantro, and other herbs you wish to include, such as Thai basil.
Brown rice would be a nice addition.