7 Thai recipes from St. Louis' Spirit House


Some of St. Louis' best Thai food is served in a Dogtown living room. Ekkachai Danwanichakul prepares traditional dishes for Spirit House pop-up dinners – here are some of his favorite recipes. 


Lao Beef Stew with Dill (Or Lam
4 to 6 servings


2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
4 to 6 shallots, finely chopped
6 to 8 red and green Thai chilies, finely chopped
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. stew-cut beef
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. Pantai Norasingh pickled gouramy fish, cream style
4 dashes Squid brand fish sauce
4 to 6 Thai eggplants, quartered
1 cup halved wood ear mushrooms
1 cup Nameko mushrooms, bottoms removed
2 cups chopped potato greens or other leafy Asian greens
1 to 2 cups whole fresh dill fronds
1 to 2 cups whole lemon basil leaves
Steamed jasmine rice, for serving


• In a food processor or using a mortar and pestle, lightly mash the lemongrass, shallots and chilies, leaving some chunks (not a fine paste). 


• Add the oil to a stockpot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the lemongrass mixture and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beef and salt and brown on all sides, 5 to 10 minutes. 


• Add enough water to cover the meat by 1 inch, then add the pickled fish and fish sauce. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring to make sure the pickled fish fully dissolves. Add the eggplants and mushrooms and return the mixture to a boil. 


• Remove the eggplants and mash in a bowl. Return them to the pot and reduce the heat to medium or medium-low. Add the greens, dill and lemon basil. 


• Cover and gently simmer 1 hour. Season to taste with more salt or fish sauce, if needed. Serve with jasmine rice.


Thai Omelet with Sour Pork Sausage (Khai Jeow Naem)
2 to 4 servings


3 to 4 eggs
1 to 2 dashes Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce
1 to 2 dashes Maekrua oyster sauce
½ cup ¼-inch sliced Champ nam sausage with pork rinds
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Steamed jasmine rice and Sriracha sauce, for serving


• In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, Golden Mountain sauce and oyster sauce until well combined. Add the sausage and stir. 


• Add the oil to a wok over high heat and roll the wok to coat the sides with oil. When the oil is very hot, add the egg mixture and use a metal wok spatula to gradually pull the cooked egg toward the middle, so raw egg rolls out to cook as well. Once the bottom is set, less than 1 minute, reduce the heat to medium. Carefully flip the omelet with the spatula and remove from heat. Let rest 30 seconds, until the bottom is cooked through. 


• Serve immediately with jasmine rice and Sriracha sauce on the side.


Read More // Some of St. Louis' best Thai food is served at Spirit House dinner parties in Dogtown

Green Curry Chicken (Gaeng Keow Wan Gai
6 servings


2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 4-oz. cans Maesri Thai green curry paste
6 boneless chicken thighs, each chopped into 3 pieces
4 to 5 chicken drumsticks (roughly chopped or whole)
1½ tsp. kosher salt
3¾ cups water
1 13.5-oz. can coconut cream
1 13.5-oz. can coconut milk
2 50-g. palm sugar cakes, mashed with a mortar and pestle (or 100 g. granulated palm sugar)
4 to 6 Thai eggplants, quartered
2 to 4 kaffir lime leaves
1 cup whole sweet Thai basil leaves
½ cup red fresno peppers, sliced lengthwise into quarters
Steamed jasmine rice, for serving


• Add the vegetable oil to a stock pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the green curry paste and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. 


• Add the chicken thighs, drumsticks and salt and brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes.


• Add the water, coconut cream, coconut milk and palm sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the eggplants and lime leaves, then reduce the heat to low and simmer 1 hour. 


• Add the basil and peppers, stir and cook 10 more minutes. 


• Serve with jasmine rice.




flash-fried water spinach // photo by carmen troesser



Flash-Fried Water Spinach (Pak Boong Fai Daeng)
2 servings


½ bunch water spinach (also called ong choy), chopped into 2-inch pieces
4 to 6 red and green Thai chilies, chopped
2 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp. Pantai Norasingh soybean paste
3 dashes Healthy Boy thin soy sauce
1 tsp. Michiu Chinese cooking wine
1 tsp. sugar
Steamed jasmine rice, for serving


• Place the water spinach on a large plate. Add the chilies, garlic, soybean paste, soy sauce, cooking wine and sugar. 


• Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until the oil smokes, 3 to 5 seconds. Add the water spinach and toss until the spinach wilts, about 15 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from heat. 


• Serve immediately with jasmine rice.


Tip: If you plan to serve more than two people, this dish is best made in multiple small batches instead of trying to make too much at once. Otherwise, the greens won’t cook properly, and it will lack the “wok taste” that makes it special.


Stir-Fried Holy Basil with Ground Pork and Fried Egg (Pad Krapao Moo Saap)
2 servings


5 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
½ lb. fatty ground pork
4 to 8 red and green Thai chilies, chopped
2 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 to 8 dashes Squid brand fish sauce
5 to 6 dashes sweet Kwong Hung Seng soy sauce
4 dashes Golden Mountain sauce
1 to 2 dashes Maekrua oyster sauce (optional)
1 cup green beans, chopped small (optional)
1 cup whole holy basil leaves*
2 eggs
Steamed jasmine rice, for serving


• Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the ground pork and stir-fry until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set aside. 


• Add another 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the wok over medium heat. Add the chilies and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, 1 minute. Return the pork to the wok and toss. 


• Add the fish sauce, sweet soy sauce, Golden Mountain sauce and oyster sauce, if desired. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, then add the green beans, if desired, and stir-fry another 1 to 2 minutes. 


• Increase the heat to high and add the basil. Stir-fry just until the basil wilts, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside. 


• Return the wok to medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. 


• Add 1 egg and baste by spooning the hot oil over the egg until crispy, 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining egg. 


• Serve the stir-fry over jasmine rice and topped with a fried egg.


* Peppery and savory, holy basil is very different from the more familiar Thai sweet basil. The best version of pad krapao uses only holy basil (krapao) – in Thailand, these basils would never be interchanged. Locally, sweet basil is often substituted, but try to find holy basil if you can.


Tip: If you plan to serve more than two people, this dish is best made in multiple small batches instead of making too much at once. Otherwise, it won’t cook properly and will lack the “wok taste” that makes it special.



three-flavor fish // photo by carmen troesser



Three-Flavor Fish (Pla Sam Rot)
2 servings


1 whole 1-lb. branzino
2 cups plus 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
8 red and green Thai chilies
4 garlic cloves
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. Lee tamarind concentrate
½ 50 g. palm sugar cake (or 25 g. granulated palm sugar)
2 Tbsp. Squid brand fish sauce
½ cup whole Thai sweet basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Steamed jasmine rice, for serving


• Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place a rack atop a baking sheet. 


• Cut 3 or 4 slashes into each side of the fish. 


• Preheat 2 cups vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat, just below smoking temperature. Hold the fish by the tail and carefully slide into the oil. Deep-fry until crispy, about 5 minutes on each side. Place the fish on the rack to drain and keep warm in the oven. 


• Discard the used cooking oil and wipe out the wok. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the wok over medium heat. 


• Add the chilies and garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the water, tamarind and palm sugar and stir until everything dissolves. Add the fish sauce, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add the basil and stir to combine. 


• To serve, place the fried fish on a large plate and top with the sauce. Garnish with more sweet basil. Serve with jasmine rice.


Chilled Coconut Dessert Soup (Ruam Mit)
4 servings


1 13.5-oz. can coconut milk
1 15-oz. can Aroy-D young coconut meat in syrup
1 20-oz. can Aroy-D jackfruit in syrup, drained and rinsed
1 20-oz. can Aroy-D palm seeds in heavy syrup, drained and rinsed
4 cups crushed ice
1 Tian OpThai dessert incense candle (optional)


• Add the coconut milk to a small pot. Use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the coconut meat over the pot, letting the syrup drip into coconut milk. Stir the coconut milk and syrup well until combined. Perfume the mixture with the incense, if desired.*


• Rinse the coconut meat. Slice the coconut meat and the jackfruit into thin strips, then return all fruits to their rinsed cans. 


• Cover the coconut milk and refrigerate 2 hours, along with the cans of fruits. 


• To serve, divide the crushed ice among 4 bowls. Evenly divide the fruits among the bowls and ladle the coconut milk over the top.


* To perfume the coconut milk and syrup mixture, puncture the bottom of the empty coconut milk can and place upside down in the pot with the milk. Light both ends of the incense candle, then extinguish. Immediately place the smoking candle atop the can, then cover the pot and let perfume 5 minutes. Put out the candle and discard it and the coconut milk can. Stir the coconut milk well and continue with the recipe.


Recommended brands are all available at Global Foods Market in Kirkwood and Jay International Food on South Grand Boulevard in St. Louis