This post is sponsored by Thai Kitchen.
If you were to come into our kitchen and take a peek at our pantry shelves, you’d see a living photo album chronicling our travels. Wherever we go, we try to pick up local ingredients (spices, mostly) so we can try to recreate some of the dishes we discover on our travels once we get home. Along with magazines and cookbooks (if they are in a language I can read!), spices are probably one of my favourite things to bring home because having easy access to hard-to-find ingredients means I can create something exotic for dinner – taking a trip to somewhere far away over the course of a meal.
But alongside these souvenirs of holidays past, you’ll also find the usual staples – an array of different vegetable and nut oils, sauces (soy and hot varieties), grains, legumes and pulses, noodles and pasta and this month, I’ve partnered with Flavour.ca and Thai Kitchen to talk about some pantry staples that I find essential for everyday cooking. There are certain ingredients I make sure I always have on hand and today I wanted to chat about a couple of them in particular – coconut milk and fish sauce.
Coconut milk is often used in cuisines from the tropics, where coconuts are grown but easy access to coconut milk in cans means that in countries like Canada where we don’t grow them, we can still enjoy their flavour (even in the dead of winter!). Coconut milk is a great dairy-free alternative and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes like curries, noodle or rice dishes, soups – even smoothies, desserts or sauces. I make sure I always have a couple of cans in the pantry as it’s a wonderful way to brighten up a curry or soup on a cold winter’s night. Thai Kitchen offers full-fat and light coconut milk as well as organic versions of both.
Fish sauce is a pantry staple too – not because I am a huge fish fan (it is made from pressing salted anchovies) but because it adds a wonderful “umami” flavour to so many dishes. Fish sauce provides the essential savoury flavor found in traditional Thai cuisine; so don’t let the name (or smell in the bottle, undiluted) put you off. Think of this a way to add some briny notes to any dish – from a soup base to vinaigrette, this is a workhorse of an ingredient that you’ll use often once you have tried it out. Its complex flavor blends particularly well with the sweet, tangy and spicy notes of Thai cuisine. Wondering what else to do with fish sauce? Here are 16 ideas.
The dish I am sharing today is one I like because it’s easy to prepare even after a busy day at work. It’s full of ingredients I always have on hand – dried noodles, coconut milk, fish sauce, mushrooms, green onions, cilantro, ginger, garlic, limes and frozen shrimp. It honestly comes together in around 30 minutes but its complex flavours make it taste like it’s taken much longer – so it’s even perfect to serve for unexpected company!
- 200g dried rice or Chinese egg noodles, cooked according to the package instructions
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- approx 250g mixed mushrooms, sliced thinly
- 1 small red chili pepper, de-seeded and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 x 2cm piece of ginger, minced or grated with a fine grater (Microplane)
- Zest of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon Thai Kitchen fish sauce
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 16 raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 can Thai Kitchen coconut milk
- Bean sprouts
- Green onions, finely sliced
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- (optional) hot red chili pepper, finely chopped
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pan.
- Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until they start to turn golden brown.
- Add the garlic, ginger, lime zest, chili, lime juice and fish sauce and continue to cook over medium-high heat for 2 more minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the chicken stock, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the shrimp and cilantro. Cook for 4 minutes.
- Stir in the coconut milk and remove from heat.
- To assemble each bowl”
- Place a handful of noodles in the bowl.
- Top with the broth, distributing the shrimp equally over each of the bowls.
- Garnish each bowl with bean sprouts, cilantro, green onions and, if you like, more chili.
This is a hearty, yet light soup – it will fill you up but not leave you feeling like you ate a big meal. In the coming winter months, this will be a soup I make again and again because on a chilly mid-winter night, there’s nothing better than a big bowl of something fresh-tasting.
Are you inspired to stock up on some (perhaps) new-to-your-pantry staples? Check out the Explore Flavour page today and see where a few simple ingredients can take you for dinner!
Disclosure: I received payment and product samples in exchange for developing this recipe and promoting the Thai Kitchen range of pantry staples. All opinions 100% my own. I only write about products I actually use myself.