J:

Beth chose Thai food for her birthday Sunday Dinner. Since
there were "only" nine people, I made "only" four dishes. For
the March birthdays, sometimes I have 15-20 and I end up making
seven or eight things and I start at 9:00 or 10:00 in the
morning. For this, I started at 2:00 in the afternoon, and
even then, I had some down time.

The menu was

Hot and Sour Coconut Milk Soup (Tom Kha)
Spicy Beef Salad (Yam Neua)
Vegetable Massaman Curry
Thai Vegetable Stew

Hot and Sour Coconut Milk Soup (Tom Kha)

I start with vegetable broth instead of water because it makes
the soup richer. I used to start with chicken broth which is
even better but switched to vegetable broth for the obvious
reason. I probably use 5 quarts. To it I add

6-8 thin slices galangal (kha) available only in Asian markets
2-3 stalks of lemon grass, lower 1/3, cut into 1 inch pieces
and crushed, avaliable same (or in my garden)
5 fresh kaffir lime leaves, avaliable...
4-5 Thai peppers (or serranos), chopped

Simmer a while, maybe an hour. Add

2 14 oz. cans whole straw mushrooms, drained
2 Tbsp sugar
2 cans coconut milk
1 lb sliced chicken breast (I eat around the chicken pieces)
2 tsp black chili paste (I haven't found this in a store so I
make my own and freeze it; It has fish in it, but I don't
know a way around it; Fry 4 oz dried jalepenos, 1 cup chopped
shallots, 1 cup chopped garlic in 1/2 cup oil until dark
brown; chop in food processor with 8 oz. dried shrimp, 2 Tbsp
shrimp paste, 1/3 cup fish sauce, and 1/4 cup sugar, fry the
whole mixture for 5 minutes)

Simmer until the chicken is cooked. Add

1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, torn

Serve.

Spicy Beef Salad (Yam Neua)

Toss romaine, cucumbers, red onions, mint leaves, cilantro,
grilled or pan fried steak, medium rare, sliced thin, with
dressing.

Dressing

6-12 cloves garlic
6-12 Thai peppers
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce

Blend or food process until smooth.

Vegetable Massaman Curry

Fry a cup of unsalted peanuts in a 1/4 cup oil until golden.
Remove from skillet, leaving the oil. Fry a sliced onion, 1/4
chopped garlic, and 6-12 dried jalepenos in the same oil. Put
the fried onion, garlic, and peppers in a blender or food
processor and process until smooth. Make the curry as
described in an earlier write up. At the end add the peanuts
and blended mixture. I always use potatoes in Massaman.

Thai Vegetable Stew

Traditionally, this has ground pork in it. I skip it.

In 1 Tbsp oil, fry

6 garlic cloves

Add

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
4 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sugar

Boil covered for 15 minutes. Add 40 oz sliced vegetables from
the following list (my recipe says 4 oz each, but most of this
stuff comes in sizes of 1 lb or more and then what are you
going to do with the extra 7 lbs of vegetables? I think I used
only five of these - starred - in my Ten Vegetable stew) and
cook for 10 more minutes.

*Bok choy, *cabbage, *Chinese cabbage, napa cabbage, *celery,
*scallions, sweet chard, swamp cabbage, carrots, spinach.

Thai nights are difficult for vegetarians. Almost everything
has fish sauce or some shrimp product. The vegetable stew is
safe, but I usually cheat by eating the salad and soup too and
eating around the beef and chicken. Also the curry is safe
when I make it with vegetables. I think I said last time that
the curry paste has fish sauce in it, but the brand I buy
doesn't list it in the ingredients, so I guess they expect you
to add it. It makes it much better if you add it but I didn't
this time.