What to Cook This Weekend When You Tire of Turkey

I can only eat so much turkey. Perhaps some of you have special ways to prepare it, but it will always be fairly bland to me — and after a Thanksgiving dinner and perhaps a once over with leftovers, I need to spice things up a bit.

Of course you may be entertaining family (or being entertained by them) throughout the weekend. But if wherever you’re staying has access to an Asian grocer, or even a Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, or the equivalent of either, you could bring a little bit of flavor and spice back into your meals.

Six years ago I blogged some Thai recipes that I picked up while staying at the Le Meridien Khao Lak outisde of Phuket, Thailand.

In December 2006 the hotel had mistakenly loaded rates (attached to the pay two, get one free rate plan) in Ugandan Schillings (UGX) instead of US Dollars (USD). They didn’t actually honor the rate — which would have been ~ 60 cents per night. Instead they offered a compromise of $50 per night, still allowing third night free (so $33.33 per night) and inclusive of tax and breakfast.

I stayed six nights in what was then called their Presidential Oceanfront Villa, two bedrooms and 2.5 baths with a private pool right on the beach.

And I took a cooking class, where I really brought what I learned back with me and still do make to this day two of the items from that class.

Tom Yam Goong (Traditional Thai sour and spicy prawn soup)


  • Medium to large prawns
  • Straw mushrooms
  • Cilantro
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Small chilis
  • Lemongrass
  • Kaffir lime leaves
  • Galangal
  • Roasted chili paste
  • Lemon juice
  • Fish sauce
  • Chicken stock
  • Sugar

Based on my own preferences I replace lemon juice with a squeezed lime and use brown sugar as my choice of sugar. I often make this with coconut milk (Tom Kha goong).

  1. Boil chicken stock
  2. Add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, roasted chili paste, sugar, mushrooms, chilis, mushrooms (if they aren’t pre-cooked)
  3. Add mushrooms (if pre-cooked), shrimp, cherry tomatoes
  4. Add lime juice and fish sauce
  5. Garnish with cilantro

My preference is that the cherry tomatoes are sliced. Heat of the soup can be increased by slicing the chilis in half so the seats are exposed to the soup. It’s delicious!

Gai Phad Med Mamuang (Sauteed Chicken with Cashew Nuts & Dry Chili)


  • Chicken
  • Veggie oil
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Roasted cashew nut
  • Dry chili thin slice
  • Onion slice
  • Spring onion
  • Soya sauce
  • Dark soya sauce
  • Chicken stock
  • Oyster sauce
  • Cilantro (garnish)

  1. Toast cashews (if untoasted)
  2. Heat oil, add garlic
  3. Add chicken
  4. Add cashews, onion, dry chili, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chicken stock, oyster sauce
  5. Garnish with green onion, red chili and cilantro

Once the chicken is fully cooked, everything goes rather quickly. After adding all the ingredients and chicken stock I have a tendency to let the dish reduce too long on the stove (which can make it too salty).

Of course, if you’re looking to continue the theme of comfort foods throughout the weekend, and perhaps modify slightly to make breakfast or brunch, then consider the amazing lemon poppyseed pancakes from the Andaz 5th Avenue whose recipe I shared last year!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. My Thai wife and I are staying at the Conrad Samui and will be having Tum Yum, Fish with Yellow Curry, and Crab Fried Rice. Not at the Conrad, where the food is just so so, but at our favorite hole in the wall down the hill in the fishing village. Sooo glad we rented a car, and my wife does all the driving!!

  2. Just a heads up… Adding coconut milk to tom yum doesn’t make it tom kha. They’re very different flavors. When you add coconut milk, you’re making tom yum nam khon, which is just a variation on tom yum (and my favorite version of tom yum).

  3. Usually recipes tell you how much of each ingredient you need. The prawn soup would be awful with 5 cups of chili paste and 1 cup total of everything else

  4. Hi Gary. I would like to try to make these recipes but need more detail on the amounts of each ingredient to use. Thanks!

  5. Gary–avid reader, first time poster. I was the OP for the Ugandan Schilling rate at the Khao Lak Meridien. I stayed in the same suite, although didn’t remember that they honored the third night free. It was a great suite (at least until my son showed up part way through and ruined the atmosphere)! My proudest travel board moment.

  6. @Harold – thank you for that! It was a score of a lifetime. Since you could not technically book two back to back, I changed the name on the second reservation to my wife’s and we had a six night stay. It was an awesome deal.

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