Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recipe: I hope I don’t offend anyone…My version of Tom Yum Soup

To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup. – Laurie Colwin
Thai food stall at night. Photo: gkamin, Flickr ccl
I’m a little averse to posting this because I’m starting to get an audience from South East Asia (thank you!). I'm fully aware that Tom Yum is a classic in both Laos and Thailand that is prepared in a certain way with specific ingredients. As we also know, the culture and cuisine of South East Asia is rich and varied. This is not a classic Tom Yum. This is my take on the recipe, and in no way reflects the wide variations that are Tom Yum Soup.

Galangal root. Photo: lmipolexG, Flickt ccl
Let’s call this Nova Scotia Tom Yum, shall we? I went to the market to do my shopping and apparently chose a bad one, or a bad day. It had neither lemon grass or kaffir lime leaves, two essentials in the delicious soup. So undaunted I shrugged, and improvised.

From Wikipedia:
Tom yum is characterized by its distinct hot and sour flavours, with fragrant herbs generously used. The basic broth is made of stock and fresh ingredients such as lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce and crushed chilli peppers.

I substituted the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves for a lime, and the galangal for fresh ginger. It looked close to correct, and tasted “Thai.” (At least to me…) 

I shouldn’t undersell this recipe. It’s easy, very quick and really hit the spot. Tasty Asian food, in that North American way...

This was one of the nights I wasn’t feeling 100% and I think the spiciness did me some good. I’m feeling much better now, by the way. It could have been the soup!

Dried kaffir lime leaves are sold in Asian groceries.
Photo: FotoosVanRobin, Flickr ccl
Docaitta “Tom Yum”
Serves 4 (fewer if you’re hungry)

4 cups water (or chicken stock)
1 lb shrimp, peeled
6 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water for 20 minutes
1 lime, juice and grated rind
1” fresh ginger, chopped
1 can coconut milk
2 fresh Thai red chillies, chopped
2 tbsp tamarind sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar (or more if desired)
3 plum tomatoes
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
3 green onions, cut large on the diagonal
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Reconstitute the shiitakes and chop into strips. Clean the shrimp and set aside.

Place the shiitakes, water, grated lime, ginger, coconut milk, chillies, tamarind, fish sauce and brown sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer.

Photo: adactio, Flickr ccl
Add in the shrimp, and tomatoes. Allow to cook for just a few minutes until the shrimp are pink. Don’t overcook or they will get tougher than they should be. They should just be “done: and that’s all.

Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice, green onions and bean sprouts.

Serve with the cilantro sprinkled on top.


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