Gkoong Obb Woon Sen

Or in other words…Shrimp & bean thread in a clay pot.

Some of the best seafood I’ve had prepared was done with a Thai flair.  So when it comes to seafood,  I’m still torn between my favorite being a whole fish cooked in a banana leaf on the grill or one deep-fried in the wok.  My favorite Thai teacher is Kasma Loha-Unchit and she wrote a book called Dancing Shrimp. (p.s. she was recently listed on Saveur’s Top 100)  This whole cookbook is based on Thai seafood dishes.  Thai food seems so complete in the flavor profiles when one is tasting it. For me, Thai food hits all of the flavor tastes distinctly; sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

This past year I have not cooked a lot of Thai food and those coconut curries are calling me.  So I headed up to Argyle Street to stock up on some basic necessities and found a rather extensive shelf of clay pots. They seem to range in size from small to large size and had different type of handles.  I went with the medium size and “normal” handles.  The directions for the first time use were quite comical.  Instructions gave you two methods;  one was to soak it in rice water for three days or to make a batch of rice.  There were some typos and decided to go with option 1- soaking for three days.  I’m not sure if all of this was necessary, but the pot survived being put on a gas flame.


1 lb. medium shrimp

1 tsp. peanut oil

8 -10  1/4″ slices unpeeled fresh ginger, bruised with the side of a knife

10 garlic cloves, smashed whole with side of knife

Handful of cilantro stems, smashed with side of knife

2 tsp. white or black peppercorns; cracked

2 green onions, cut into 1″ pieces

1 medium (3.5 oz) package of bean thread noodles; soaked in tap water for 5-10 minutes to soften

1 tbs. fish sauce

1 tbs. black soy sauce (semi-sweet kind)

4 tbs. Thai oyster sauce

3/4 cup seafood stock


1. Shell shrimp, butterfly and remove vein.

2. Oil the bottom of a clay pot and spread ginger slices over it.  Follow with garlic, cilantro, peppercorns,  and green onions.  Layer drained, softened bean thread noodles over them and sprinkle with a mixture of fish sauce, and black soy sauce.  Arrange shrimp over noodles and coat evenly with oyster sauce.

3.  In a small saucepan, heat seafood stock to boiling.  Pour gently along the side of the clay pot, so that the oyster sauce is not washed off the shrimp.  Cover with lid and put clay pot over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and cook 5-8 minutes.

I’m including some pictures of the Thai ingredients that were used.  For most people, these are not the every day condiments on hand, but I encourage you to go to an Asian market and check things out.  The same grocery store isles bore me to tears, so get out of your comfort zone and check out an ethnic market near you.  Kasma has a great section on her website of her preferred Thai ingredients.

Mise en place!

Clay pot oiled and first layer.

Lots of choices at the asian store!  I used half of this pack because I cut the recipe in half.

Look for the dragon fly on the front and on the back it will say “semi-sweet.”  They make two types, so keep your eyes peeled for the correct one.

Oyster sauce- I got this at Kasma’s house.  Not a lot of places carry this particular brand, but there are several at the Asian store that are available.

As Kasma always says, “Needs more fish sauce!”

This dish was a breeze to make once all the ingredients were assembled.  The shrimp were basically getting steamed in the clay pot and the aromatics from the bottom made it all taste fantastic!!  Enjoy.



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2 responses to “Gkoong Obb Woon Sen

  1. laura

    looks so yummy as I read this while I’m eating a piece of spinach & artichoke pizza I brought back from NYC from a place called Artichokes…take out only….next to a place called Curly’s (veg dinner). Found so many veg places in NYC this trip. Can’t believe you weren’t with me and D. Made a reservation at Holy Basil but didn’t get past the garden martinis at Cibar. Bagels @ Russ & Daughters Check out these places on-line. Why didn’t we find these in school? You must come explore with us 🙂

  2. Melissa

    I passed Artichokes several times and there was always a huge line! I’m thinking we missed all those yummy places because of our permanent chairs at Punch. Cibar has the “suffering bastard;” have been wanting to try that one out! I wonder what the beauty school dropout tastes like?? Can see why you never made it to the Thai place. The bagel place looks almost as good at the one in CT. The lox….come on!!! Give D a big XO for me!

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