Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tom Yum soup

Do you ever read those stupid articles on Yahoo! about life and food and health. You know the ones I'm talking about. The articles that always talk about relationship advice ("How to tell if he's not a lying scumbag") or the newest fads in food ("Top 10 super-booster power brain foods").

They also have food recipes sometimes- with an extra focus on quick and easy dinners. Sadly, I like my foods long and complicated. And while there's nothing inherently wrong with a quick dinner, I can't say I 100% trust Yahoo! for recipe advice.

BUT the other day I was reading through one of these articles and got a great idea. (What?! Just because they're crappy doesn't mean I don't read them...) They mentioned something about Thai dishes, and I got a craving for Tom Yum soup.

So I did some Google searches and after reading through a few recipes I came up with my hybrid version (based upon what looked "authenic" and knowing that I prefer my Tom Yum tart). It was definitely a winner. Soooo good and light. The perfect dinner.

I can't say it was 100% authentic, but it was pretty close.  And although I've had better Tom Yum at a few places, my soup was better than I've had at lots of restaurants.  

I kept mine pretty simple by using just mushrooms, but feel free to add various meats or veggies to the mix.  Or add some coconut milk and you've got yourself some Tom Kha.

Buen Provecho,

Tom Yum


4 cups chicken stock
1 fresh lemongrass, tough outer stems removed and cut into 1" pieces
3 large kaffir lime leaves
2-4 small red chillies (or dried red chillies), more or less to taste (I used 3, wasn't too spicy but had some nice heat to it)
2 TBSP fish sauce, more or less to taste
4 TBSP lime juice, more or less to taste
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 tsp sugar
shitake mushrooms (I used ~6 whole ones, sliced, for a mushroom heavy soup)
1/3+ cup cilantro, roughly chopped, more or less to taste
1-2 tsp nam prik pao chili sauce, optional (I didn't have this but saw it in a lot of recipes so wanted to include it here)

optional ingredients
12 medium/large shrimp
very thinly sliced chicken
cherry tomatoes
bok choy
green/red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 can coconut milk


1. Place chicken broth into saucepan and turn heat to medium-high.

2. Add lemongrass and kaffir leaves to the pot, bring to boil, and reduce heat to medium. Partially cover the pot and continue to cook 10-15 minutes to infuse the flavor into the liquid. (The longer you let them simmer the stronger the flavor will become. I let mine simmer for at least 15 minutes.)

3. Add chillis and mushrooms to pot. Continue to cook for 5 minutes.

4. Optional: add shrimp, chicken, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, etc. Cook until shrimp/meat is done, ~5-6 minutes.  If you aren't adding these ingredients, continue to cook the soup for another 5 minutes or so, or until mushrooms are at desired doneness.

5. Turn heat to low and add fish sauce.  Note: add 1 TBSP at first, see how you like it, then add more until you're happy. It's a strong flavor that can easily be overdone so it's better to slowly add more than the ruin your soup by adding too much. Once you've added your fish sauce, add the lime juice, lime zest and sugar.  (You can also add the coconut milk and/or nam prik pao at this point.)

4. Serve immediately and top with cilantro. (I used A LOT of cilantro because I love it.)

Notes I read online: If the soup is too sour add a bit more sugar. If too salty add a squeeze of lime juice. If it's too spicy add a little more coconut milk.


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