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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tom Yum Soup

So today was a culinary adventure...My husband loves Asian cuisine so much that if I basically suggest we turn our kitchen into a Southeast Asian restaurant for the day, he's counting out chili peppers before I even finish my thought.  While I benefit from this on some days, it works against me on days when I want nothing more than chicken pot pie - a meal which Jim doesn't want to touch, and watching him force himself to eat just a bit is painful.  But I digress.  Getting back to today's post...I crave tom yum soup on a regular basis.  So it's been a long time coming that I try to make it on my own.  I set about it (drawing from all the different recipes I could find on-line and tasting as I went along) while Jim made papaya salad (not perfected just yet, but when it is, I will be sure to post the final recipe).

The resulting soup was a perfect, well-balanced combination of sour, salty, spicy, and a subtle hint of sweet.  If that weren't enough, in addition to all those wonderful flavors, the galangal that is used (apparently from what I have read, you should not substitute ginger), lends an earthiness - so don't skip the galangal.  That being said...the only downside is that if you want to try this out at home, it will require a trip to a specialty Asian market.  However, the crazy good smell of the lemongrass as you chop it makes up for the the inconvenience factor.  If you love tom yum soup, or if you have never had tom yum soup but the flavors I have described speak to you, then I don't think you will be disappointed by this.

Tom Yum Soup
serves 6

1-1/2 pounds medium shrimp
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 slices fresh galangal (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup (2-inch) pieces peeled fresh lemongrass (about 4 stalks)
8 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
2 tablespoons roasted red chili paste (nam prik pao)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 Thai chilies
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
juice from 2 limes

Peel and devein shrimp, reserving shells.  Combine shrimp shells and 8 cups water in a Dutch oven and  bring to a simmer.  Cook 1 hour. Strain broth into another pot and discard solids.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves to the pot and simmer 10 minutes. Again, strain broth mixture into a pot (I strained this back into the Dutch oven in which I made the shrimp stock so there was less to clean) and discard solids.  Add the mushrooms, chili paste, fish sauce, sugar, and chilies and bring to a boil.  Stir in shrimp, green onions, and cilantro and cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Discard chilies and stir in the fresh lime juice.  This would be wonderful served with rice noodles if you like, but I thought it was amazing by itself as well.

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