The Soup Blog
Recipes, Culinary Insights & Humor Spooned Up Fresh Every Week…………………(Now in its Ice Cream Phase)
So Long Youth: Sanamluang Soup
Categories: Beef, Cabbage, Cucumber, Limes

No, not Thai-ger, Leopard

When my wife and I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles some time in the last century (yikes!), we were young(er), just engaged and still childless. We settled in the Hollywood-adjacent neighborhood of Los Feliz and soon discovered many of its culinary pleasures. Like any true exploration of LA, it was an international experience, from the Armenian/Mediterranean Zankhou Chicken to the Yucatan-themed taco stand Yuca’s (better than Bayliss) to the hole in the strip mall Thai restaurant Sanamluang.

We first ate at the quick and dirty Thai place before LA County started its restaurant health/sanitation grading system. When Sanamluang earned a grade of C (A was best), we discovered how dirty it really was. The Asian restaurant had to display the big blue C in the front window so it was the first thing you saw when you came in the door. It was sad.

Sadder still was the fact that we kept going.

The food was good.

At the time we were still doing the LA thing. I was writing spec scripts for various TV shows and getting fired from tutoring gigs by 15-year-olds. My then-fiancé was a struggling actress performing in non-equity theatre and constantly updating her headshots. We even performed as part of an improv group named… Well, I can’t actually remember the name of it, but it wasn’t “Rat Bite Fever.”

Maybe it doesn’t sound all that idyllic now, but after being raised in the aerospace world of real Los Angeles, the clichéd allure of Hollywood had an unreal draw.

So that’s who we were when we went to Sanamluang: two childless aspiring talents and almost newlyweds in their last hurrah before they became serious, health-care purchasing adults.

Food-borne illness anyone? No, as far as I know, we dodged that bullet.

Maybe the reason for our good health was the Thai beef salad, one of my favorite entrees at Sanamluang. It was loaded with lime juice and the citric acid may have killed off any germs.

Maybe we just got lucky.

One or the other.

But instead of romanticizing those times, I decided to try to recreate that old favorite so I could pass it along to my kids. The result is this Thai Beef Salad Soup which successfully avoids putting any kind of rose-colored tint on the past.

Of course, without that added nostalgia the kids had to be sold on the flavor alone. And I am sad to say they did not love the soup. On the plus side, they won’t be blindly drawn to restaurants that may not have the most exacting sanitary standards. On the minus side, there may be something to that whole ‘you can’t go home again’ thing.

Sadly, when children leave the nest, they carry their homes with them. All the things that loom so large in their memories become merely life sized when they revisit them—parents, grandparents, places and events alike.

Perhaps part of our job as dads and moms is to prepare our kids for this eventuality—to fill their minds with imaginations large enough to encompass and eventually absorb the past. That way they’ll at least want to come home, even if it won’t feel the same.

The future is the key for them, that’s what I want my children to embrace, both the sweet and the sour. So, yes, this mint and lime Thai soup is a metaphor for parenting, like everything else in the world.

Sanamluang Soup
(6-8 servings)
8-16 oz. beef, cut into thin strips
1 cup fresh mint, minced
juice of 2 limes
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
6 cups Napa Cabbage, shredded
6 cups stock
1 T soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
1 T sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Put everything into a 3 quart soup pot and simmer until the beef is cooked.
  2. Then reduce (i.e. cook until there is less of it) the soup by a third or a half to concentrate the flavor.
  3. Adjust the seasoning and serve warm or cold.

Image Credit: “Rose-colored Tiger,” from the past.

As you might have noticed, this latest posting has been a long time coming. The fact is I’ve been feeling a bit hemmed in by soup. So, as the summer solstice slips away from me, I decided to change things up a bit.  The next posting may or may not actually be about soup. Stay tuned.


1 Comment to “So Long Youth: Sanamluang Soup”

  1. Suzie says:

    Howdy folks! What a treat your Sanamluang soup was. We loved it. I cut up cubes of tofu and made Thai noodles (for Robin) I think I used garlic and more soy sauce. Oh yea, as I have an abundance of cukes -I used two. Really good. Thanks. Love, Suzie