Sunday, November 11, 2007
Tom Yum Goong Soup
I ddn't get a chance to finish off properly last weeks soup promotion as I was in London. In fact I am sitting in a hotel room in Athens typing this when I should be out in the bars and restaurants of this throbbing metropolis. Such is our dedication!
This soup captures in one bowl all the flavours and smells of Thailand. It is THE soup of Thailand, it couldn’t be anything else but Thai and it is fabulous. Generally supping this soup in Thailand requires stamina and a mouth of steel for it is hot. It can be incredibly spicy and mouth puckeringly sour so take it easy. I tone mine down considerably but it is still a warming and spicy bowl of fragrant yumminess.
This soup is incredibly simple to make, one of the keys of course is to ensure you have really good clear chicken stock as the base.
As usual with a lot of what I do there are no hard and fast rules with the actual amounts of the various ingredients, play around with what you have and see what suits you best.
Ingredients (for four)
1 litre homemade chicken stock
2 stalks fresh lemon grass, trim off the very end of the root and smash with the side of a cleaver of chef's knife; cut into 1 inch pieces; or 2 pc dried
3 slices fresh galangal root (smashed) or if you can’t find it substitute with a similar amount of fresh peeled and finely chopped ginger
3 fresh kaffir lime leaves, leave whole
1 tbsp tamarind paste, strained
1 tbsp nam pla, fish sauce
350g shrimps, medium to large size, shelled and de-veined; frozen are fine to use
3 to 6 fresh Thai birds eye chili peppers, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips.
2 spring onions cuts finely
2 tbsp. roasted chili paste (nam prik pao) (optional)
1 small can straw mushrooms, drained and rinsed
1 small ripe tomato, cut into wedges 1/4 inch thick
Juice from 1 small lime
A good handful of sprigs of fresh coriander, keep some in reserve for garnish
1 tsp caster sugar
A couple of notes here, you can substitute bits of fish for the prawns or chicken (blanched first) if you rather. The kaffir lime leaves are pretty important as they do provide an essential authentic flavour. Spinneys in Dubai always has bags of them above the herb trays. You don’t actually eat these leaves as they remain very tough but the flavour is the key.
It is the citrus flavours that give it the all important sour taste so don’t spare any of these.
In a large pot bring the stock up to a simmer and then throw in all the ingredients except the Thai chillis, lime juice and the prawns.
Let simmer for about ten minutes to allow flavours to develop and then add the prawns, lime juice and the chillis. I like to leave the chillis out until later to ease up a little on the fiery flavours. Also adding the lime juice too soon will mellow its flavours.
Let simmer for a further 3 or 4 minutes until the prawns are cooked, don’t leave it any longer otherwise the prawns will become very tough. Taste for seasoning; if it needs more salt add fish sauce, if you want it slightly more sour add more lime juice.
Serve in individual bowls, garnish with a few sprigs of fresh coriander leaves and bring to table immediately.