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Thai Coconut Pumpkin Soup
(Gaeng Liang Fak Thong)
Not your ordinary soup right out of the refrigerator--in fact, you'll need a local Oriental market to find the shrimp paste and dried shrimp. But what an appetite stimulant--your taste buds will spend the rest of the night thinking about this complexity of flavors. Serve hot as a first course to 6 people.
In a soup pot, saute the onion until golden brown. Stir in the dried shrimp, chiles, and shrimp paste and fry for a minute. Add water and bring to a boil. Add pumpkin triangles, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Salt to taste. When ready to serve, pour in coconut milk and bring just to a simmer (more and the coconut taste will decay). Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with lemon juice, then with cilantro. Top each with a slivered basil leaf.