Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tom Yum Goong

It's fun to say....Tom Yum Goong, Tom Yum Goong. As I was making it, I was constantly saying it to myself in any number of sing-song ways.

Tom Yum is a hot and sour Thai soup. It's crazy delicious and I think that most of you have had it because it's one of those Thai dishes that people really take to, right up there next to red curry. When you make it, it's very, very aromatic and makes the whole apartment smell good. It's also incredibly easy to make. So easy, in fact, that this next recipe will be in paragraph form.

One note...Tom Yum Goong refers to the shrimp version of this soup. If you don't want to use shrimp, feel free to use some thinly sliced chicken breast. Just add it around the same time that you would add the shrimp and increase cooking time by a minute or so.

Peel and, if necessary, devein shrimp. I used about a half pound of shrimp. If you don't know how to devein shrimp, click here. After deveining, I always brine the shrimp. Just take your prepared shrimp and cover with cold water. Add a few pinches of salt and stir. This is a Chinese technique that my mother taught me...It yields shrimp with a somewhat snappy texture. I do this because I HATE mushy shrimp.

Take one stalk of lemongrass and trim the root end. Trim the top so you're left with about a 1-foot length of lemongrass. Peel off one or two of the outer layers and discard them. Take the remaining stalk and pound it with the flat of a knife. You just wanna smoosh it. Smell the lemongrass. Nice, eh?

Mince an onion. Mince a clove or two of garlic. Add a tablespoon of oil to a preheated pot and toss in the garlic and onions. Saute for a minute or so. Add a half tablespoon of red curry paste, the lemongrass, a handful of lime leaves and a few slices of galangal. Saute for a few minutes. The mixture should end up being slightly dry.

Add 2 cups of chicken stock and two cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. You're just looking to extract some flavor from the lime leaves, galangal etc.

While the soup is simmering, open up a can of straw mushrooms. Drain, rinse and drain again.

After the 15 minutes is up, pour in 2 cups of coconut milk and the mushrooms. Bring back up to a simmer and let it go for 5 minutes. At this point, toss in the shrimp (or chicken.) These shouldn't take more than 3 minutes to cook. Turn off the heat.

Time to finish seasoning the soup...the fun part! Squeeze in the juice of a lime...taste. If you want it more sour, add more lime. I like it hella sour so I usually roll with 3 limes. Grab your bottle of fish sauce and add a tablespoon. Want more? Add more...I usually end up between 2-3 tablespoons. Some people might be scared of fish sauce. I know my dad is. He told me stories about being in 'Nam and the putrid smell of the fish sauce factory. Some people I know describe the aroma of fish sauce as that of a dirty penis. Their words, not mine. Fish sauce is great tho. Here's a picture of the brand I use:

Garnish with cilantro and you're done!

Time- 30 minutes, much of it unsupervised.
Food cost:
Shrimp- $3.50
'Shrooms- $1.00
Coconut Milk- $1.00
Chicken Stock- $0.75
Incidentals- $0.50
Total- $6.75
Should make about 4 bowls of soup.


George said...

this soup was excellent...

Did you salt it at all?

Mike Czyzewski said...

Other than the fish sauce and the sodium in the chicken broth, no salt was added.

Pretty amazing, eh?

James said...

couple questions.

Can I skip the lime leaves and use lime rinds or something?

Can I use ginger instead of that other weird looking root?

Mike Czyzewski said...

If you can't find lime leaves, maybe use another stick or two of lemongrass. Or maybe add a bit of extra lime at the end. The lime leaves just give it a nice perfume.

If you can't find galangal, feel free to omit or use ginger if that's what you want to do. It might not taste exactly like mine but I'm pretty sure it'll still be tasty.

Mike Czyzewski said...

Lemme add that ingredient availability shouldn't dictate whether or not you make a recipe...feel free to improv (within reason).

James said...

Made the soup tonight. Found Kaffir Lime leaves at the store but they were hella expensive so I didn't get any. Didn't find any fresh galangal either. I just upped the lemongrass by a bit and used lots of lime juice. I also used low fat coconut milk. The soup was super. Joo and I are big fans and will be making it again.

Mike Czyzewski said...

Glad to hear it.