Friday, September 16, 2011

Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Thai Soup with Shrimp & Lemongrass)

Probably the best known soup dish in Thai cuisine. The ingredients are fairly simple, but the flavors are intense: hot, sour, spicy and salty, all at the same time! The spice comes from the chilies, the sour from the lime, and the salty from the fish sauce. And then the lemongrass & fresh lime leaves add a citrusy fragrance to the whole thing. 


I adapted this recipe from Nancy McDermott's Real Thai and www.thaitable.com


Ingredients:
3 quarts (12 cups) water plus 1 tbsp. Totole brand chicken base (or use 12 cups unsalted chicken broth)
6 large stalks of lemongrass


6 fresh Kaffir lime leaves (each leaf should have 2 lobes). Can be omitted if you can't find these. I have a Kaffir Lime tree growing in my garden, so there's always a fresh supply. If you love Thai and live in California or Florida, then by all means plant one of these guys - they will even thrive in a container! You can buy plants online at  www.fourwindsgrowers.com 


1 large jalapeno, sliced (for spicier soup, use 2 serrano chilies or 6 Thai bird chilies instead) - leaving the seed in will make it even spicier!


Juice of 2 limes
6 green onions, cut into 1" sections
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. roasted chili paste or Tom Yum Soup Paste. Tom Yum paste is generally a blend of oil, garlic, shallots, chili, sugar, salt, lemongrass , galangal (a rhizome that tastes like ginger), and oftentimes MSG - yikes! Available in jars in most Asian markets


15 oz. can whole straw mushrooms, drained
1 lb. medium shrimp, deveined (leave shells on, as they add great flavor to the broth)


1. Bring water & chicken base to a boil in a large stock pan. 


2. Prep lemongrass by trimming off the tops, leaving about 6" of the stalk. Remove 1 or two of the tough outer layers, and cut off the root. With the back of a cleaver or chef's knife, bruise the stalk at 1-2" intervals on all sides. 


3. Combine fresh chilies with the lime juice, green onions and 3 remaining lime leaves. Set aside.


4. Add lemongrass and 3 of the lime leaves to the broth & reduce to a simmer. Cook about 20-30 minutes or until stock is fragrant and the lemongrass is a dull green color. 


5. Discard lemongrass from the broth. Add the roasted chili or Tom Yum paste and straw mushrooms. Bring soup back up to a boil, cook for about 1 minute, then add the fish sauce and shrimp. Cook shrimp for about 1 minute or until it just turns pink. Using a slotted spoon, remove shrimp from the soup to a bowl & set aside (I do this so that the shrimp won't overcook and turn rubbery as the soup continues to cook). 


6. Turn off heat and add the chili-lime juice mixture and chopped cilantro to the soup. Adjust seasonings (lime juice, fish sauce, additional chili flakes, as needed). 


7. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and add a few of the cooked shrimp. 


Lemongrass stalks.

Trim down to about 6" (remove tough outer leaves and also cut off the root end).

Bruise the lemongrass stalks with the back of a cleaver or chef's knife.

Kaffir lime leaves, limes, lemongrass, chilies, cilantro, green onions.

Tom Yum Paste, canned straw mushrooms, Totole brand chicken base, fish sauce.

Fish sauce, straw mushrooms, lime juice, Tom Yum paste.

1 lb. medium shrimp, deveined (and no heads), but with shell left on.

Add 1 tbsp. chicken base to 3 quarts of water. You can sub with unsalted chicken broth. Do NOT use salted broth or it will be way too salty after you've added the fish sauce.


Combine 3 lime leaves, chilies, green onions and lime juice in a bowl. Set aside.

Add lemongrass & 3 lime leaves to the broth.

After simmering 20-30 minutes, remove the lemongrass stalks from the broth.

Add straw mushrooms and 1 tbsp. of Tom Yum paste.

Add fish sauce.

Add shrimp.

As soon as shrimp turns pink, remove to a bowl.

Turn off heat and add chili, lime leaf, scallion, lime juice mixture.

Add chopped cilantro.

Add a few of the reserved shrimp to each serving.

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