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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tom Yum Goong ต้มยำกุ้ง (Thai Hot & Sour Soup with Shrimp)

at the height of my teen angst i lived in bangkok, thailand. looking back, being a third culture kid wasn't that hard or bad. i actually had it really good. i was immersed in a completely different culture than i was used to, i received a solid preparatory education and the exposure to the exotic food was first class. to this day i view street vendor food as first class cuisine. it may not come in a fancy bowl or have five-star presentation but i would bet it'd taste better. the thais really put care into their food, using fresh ingredients. further, they always always had a wide variety of condiments to add to their already delicious dishes. to choose: different fish sauces, chilis, soy sauce, sugar, crushed peanuts, mints, vinegar, and herbs. what is also really notable is that it was all very cheap. i can't wax poetic words like Anthony Bourdain but believe when i tell you that there are some words that can't give these flavors justice. when i see episodes of him in southeast asian countries, it makes me miss the streets of bangkok. and with this raging winter now, i really miss bangkok.

to bring back some of that warmth, i recently made tom yum goong, a thai hot and sour soup with shrimp. this soup is very different from the vietnamese version in that, to me, it's very sour. but there's a balance that the thais have perfected that makes the combination of sourness and spiciness work. i was unable to capture it but it was still warm and kept the cold at bay.

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Tom Yum Goong, ต้มยำกุ้ง
adapted from Real Thai Recipes

2 lemongrass stalks, cut into 1" pieces and smashed a bit
6 lime leaves (1 tablespoon), torn with center vein removed
2 tbls galangal sliced thin
1 tbl coriander roots, about 2 roots
1 shallot, minced
1 medium tomato, cut lengthwised and then cut into bite size pieces
2 cups broth (pork, chicken)
1 can of straw mushrooms
4 or 5 medium-sized saltwater shrimp, cleaned and shelled
pinch salt
1 1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons roasted chili paste
1 tablespoon lime juice (or more to taste)

1 tablespoon coriander chopped

prep all the ingredients. i like to have it all cut, diced, minced and measured out already. Bring the broth to a boil. Add the lime leaves, lemongrass, coriander root, galangal and tomato. Boil for 4-5 minutes. add the mushrooms and tomato and this is where *i* season the soup. it's all to taste. i didn't use exactly a pinch of salt or whatever amount of fish sauce, it's all about how it tastes to me. (this is perhaps why it did not taste like it came from thailand. whatever.) when ready to eat, add the shrimp. cook till just pink, serve topped with the chopped cilantro. i didn't have any at home, i used green onions instead.

hot sour soup


this video was soooo big when i was 11th grade and it was filmed in malaysia. for some reason i had always thought it was thailand.

14 comments:

  1. ahh this soup is wonderful, I have had the real thai version while in Thailand and of course the Vietnamese version. Both are just Tom yummy!

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  2. This looks marvelous.
    I get a version of this soup w/coconut milk at my favorite sushi restaurant, but have never tried to make it.

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  3. Looks and sounds delicious. I really need a bowl right now in this freezing cold weather.

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  4. I love this soup! I crave it all the time. Yours looks delish!

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  5. Mmmmmmmm! Shrimp! It looks delicious!

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  6. houstonwok, i do have a preferance for the vietnamese version :) but really, any soup during the cold months of winter is a welcome.

    olga, i like the version with coconut milk too. making it at home makes you appreciate it all the more at restaurants. that balance of sourness and spiciness is hard to achieve.

    pigpigscorner, oh i believe you! this winter has been brutal and this soup definitely warms you right up!

    kim, trish, and debbie -
    thanks ladies!

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  7. I totally agree with you that the hawker food in Thailand and in SE Asia in general are top notch.
    Thanks for this recipe..I believe too food is at its best when it's cook acc. to the liking of the ppl who eat it...for example myself..hehe.

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  8. thank you adel. it is so hard to find fresh asian ingredients where i am so i like to play around and really, i'm the one consuming the food so i should be done the way i like it! :)

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  9. Hi AA,
    This recipe is great! I followed your recipe today and must I say, Simply Fabolous! I also experimented a bit and added a teaspoon of pre seasoned Tom Yum seasoning in a jar and it just added this crazy twang to the taste, in a good way. However Tom Yum is by far one of my favorite soups, invigorating during cold times.
    Cheers

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  10. HW - i'm so glad it worked out for you! it's starting to get cool and i'll be busting out warm soups like this shortly. :)

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  11. HW - i'm so glad it worked out for you! it's starting to get cool and i'll be busting out warm soups like this shortly. :)

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  12. thank you adel. it is so hard to find fresh asian ingredients where i am so i like to play around and really, i'm the one consuming the food so i should be done the way i like it! :)

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