Panfish Tom Kha Soup

Recipe and photos by Jamie Carlson of Modern Carnivore
Another Outdoor News Taste of the Wild Recipe feature from Jamie Carlson of Modern Carnivore
Photo by Jamie Carlson of Modern Carnivore



When you think of summer you don’t immediately think of soup. Typically, when we think of soups we think of cold weather and warms bowls of soup after a long day in the field. This Thai-inspired soup is a great fit for summer. The slightly sweet and sour soup with a touch of spice has all the great flavors of summer. It is one of my favorite ways to use pan fish but could be made with any of our local fish or even salmon. In the fall you could use pheasants or grouse or maybe even squirrel.

 3 cups fish stock (if you don’t have fish stock chicken stock works as well)
1 2-inch piece of galangal or fresh ginger root
1 large stock of lemon grass
2 bay leaves
Zest of one lime
2 cans unsweetened coconut milk
1 pound of crappie fillets or any other pan fish cut into one inch pieces
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 tablespoon sriracha
Juice of one lime
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
8 oz. Shittake mushrooms
3-4 small red Thai chilies
Fresh cilantro


If using galangai, peel then thinly slice. Ginger root can be peeled and grated. There is a difference in the two. The skin of galangal is smoother and paler than ginger and its flesh is much harder. The flavor of galangal is much stronger too; it’s earthy, sharp, and extra citrusy.

Cut the lemongrass into 4-inch pieces and smash them with a hammer or the back of a knife. You can slice the lemongrass paper thin and add it to the soup but I prefer to smash up big pieces and cook them, remove the lemon grass before serving. I like the flavor of lemongrass but the texture is always woody, no matter how thin I slice it.


Combine the stock, galangal (or ginger), bay leaves, lime zest, sugar, lemongrass, tamarind paste and sriracha then bring to a boil.

  1. Add the coconut milk and bring back to a simmer
  2. Add the mushrooms lime juice and fish sauce, stir a few times and then add the fish. The fish will only need a 3-4 minutes to cook.

    About the Chef: Jamie Carlson is a hunting, fishing and foraging enthusiast. He works as a registered nurse at the VA hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and the great outdoors and when he can he loves to combine the two. Jamie enjoys sharing his knowledge with others, particularly those who are new to hunting, fishing and cooking in the great outdoors. He serves on the Board for the Minnesota chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and is a contributing food writer for national hunting publications and Modern Carnivore

Categories: Cooking, Featured, Fish, Salads, Sides & Misc

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