Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tom Yum Goong

One of my favorite Thai soups is the ubiquitous Tom Yum Goong and having ordered this soup at every single Thai restaurant I've been to (and they all tasted different too...), at one point I was determined to make it my darn self. Why? So I can have it just the way I want :P

Tom Yum Goong from Thai Avenue, Boulder, Colorado.

While researching online, I found this nifty online Thai grocer In addition to selling Thai fresh and/or packaged ingredients, ImportFood also posts Thai recipes and even videos of street vendors in Thailand cooking the dishes. Seriously, whomever came up with this website is one hell of an entrepreneur! Give people the recipes, then sell them the ingredients - what a great idea! I only bought from them once though (great service, by the way, and lightning fast shipping!), and they were the ingredients I couldn't find at my local groceries. But I do go back to the websites quite often for more recipes. I think the idea here is that if I keep going back often enough, I'll buy again. We'll see. I'm trying very hard to resist ^.^

Tom Yum Goong made at home in the states where more ingredients were readily available.

Anyway, among the various Thai recipes from ImportFood, I found this Tom Yum Goong recipeand started from there, tweaking just a tiny bit to my liking. It shouldn't taste any different from the ImportFood recipe though, since I do stick to the required key ingredients.

Here is what I use to make Tom Yum Goong, note that I'm not calling it "my" recipe, because it's not.

- Shrimps, 3-4 medium per serving, peeled, deveined, and quickly dunk in boiling water or pre-cooked
- Onions, 1-2 medium, sliced thickly
- Straw mushrooms, 1 can (big or small can your choice, any brand will work), halved
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- Lemongrass, preferably fresh but dried is okay too. If fresh, use 1-2 3-inch stems sliced into 1-inch chunks and slightly crush each chunk with the end of the knife handle to release flavor. If dried, a few pinches of the dried stems. What I usually do is buy a bundle of fresh lemongrass discard 1-inch at the end as well as a couple outer layers depending on how dirty the lemongrass is. Then I wash the rest well, pat dry, cut them into 3-inch stems and freeze :) They freeze really well and will thaw in minutes if you run them quickly under warm water.
- Galangal, preferably fresh but dried is okay too. If fresh, use a stub half the size of your thumb. If dried, use 2-3 slices but soak in hot water first for several minutes to "reactivate."
- Kaffir lime leaves, 3-4 double leaves (6-8 single leaves), further break each single leaf in half. Again, fresh leaves are preferable but dried leaves works just as well.
- Lime, 1.5 - 2 whole fruits, juiced. This is probably the one ingredient that must be fresh, in my opinion. If lime isn't available, you can substitute lemon, but in my experience concentrated fruit juice will make the soup too harsh and tart.
- Cilantro (coriander), as much or as little as desired, rinsed and pat dry, for garnish.
- Optional: fresh chili pepper, crushed, if you want to give your soup some bite ^.^ I usually crush 5-6 peppers.
- Optional: tomatoes, 3-4 medium, quartered, then halved. This is completely optional, some people likes to add it, others don't. While Kim, the owner of Thai Avenue, said he has always eaten his Tom Yum Goong with tomatoes, however his chef said she added tomatoes only to give the soup some color. My hubby likes his Tom Yum Goong with tomatoes, but I actually think the sweetness in the tomatoes "blands" out the lime in the soup, so I never put tomatoes in. Unless hubby wants to learn how to make this for himself, he's going to have to make do without tomatoes in his Tom Yum Goong muahahaha... xD
- Optional: fried tofu, just because I love fried tofu ^.^
- Optional: there is a newer and creamy version of Tom Yum Goong, and you can make this version by adding 1 can of coconut milk (not juice, not puree, milk!). I use Chaokoh brand almost exclusively, but any brand will work. However, please note that adding coconut milk will make the soup a much heavier dish, so if you want to keep your soup light, don't make this creamy version.
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- Nam prik pao (roasted chile in oil), 2 teaspoons
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- Thai fish sauce, 5-6 Tablespoons
- Chicken broth, canned or powder, 3-4 cans, or 3-4 teaspoons/cubes dissolved in 2-3 quarts of water.

- Bring chicken broth to a boil and add galangal and lemongrass, cook for 5 minutes
- Add prik pao and mushrooms, bring to boil again
- Reduce heat, add tomatoes if use, fresh crushed chile if use, kaffir lime leaves, and season with fish sauce
- Add onions, stir in lime juice
- Add shrimps last, just before serving as to not overcook shrimps.
- If you are making the creamy Tom Yum Koong, add the coconut milk right after the shrimps. Carefully stir the soup to dissolve the coconut milk.
- Serve hot and garnish with prigs of cilantro.

Tom Yum Goong made here in Japan with dried lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves.

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