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.