Shrimp Hot and Sour Soup
A while back Gina came over to learn from me how to cook Tom Yum Koong. It was her favorite Thai dish and so she thought I would be a good target to debrief. I don’t know if the debrief really worked because she has not – at least as far as I know – cooked Tom Yum Koong since then.
So, when I planned to cook it again this week end, I called her up and ask her to come over. Yes, she came and offered to help. That was very appreciated, as it is a lot of work to clean all the shrimps.
With this we have already arrived at the first, most important, ingredient of Tom Yum Koong. I mean if you are Thai then you don’t need to find that out because the name of this soup gives away (very bluntly so) that it contains shrimp, but unfortunately not everybody speaks Thai (yet).
If we want to get into the business of a shopping list, first we would need shrimp. OK, there are lots of different shrimp. If I want to make Tom Yum Koong REALLY good then I get the big shrimp. This stuff we call shrimp oil or fat (directly translated; maybe somebody can tell me how it is called correctly in English) and of which there is so much more in big shrimps, makes the whole soup much better in taste, smell, and look, yet – these shrimps are pretty expensive. So this time I took the smaller ones, and I could use Gina’s help to the fullest.
Next thing we need is some stalks of lemon grass, some lime leaves (if you ask for Bai Ma Grood in the Thai market they will know what you want), a pound of good fresh mushrooms and a couple of hot chilis.
I guess the other ingredients you will have already – if you cook Thai once in a while that is.
OK, now we start the real cooking. OOPS, we forgot the broth, so we will have to go back to the market. Maybe not – perhaps you have some chicken broth left from your last cooking spree.
Now, we bring this broth to boil and add the lemon grass, which I had to clean because Gina was still busy with the shrimp. The lemon grass I cut into pieces about two inches long and pound lightly.
Once the lemon grass is swimming I turn down the heat to just simmer and wait until I get the fragrance starting to weave out of the pot. Then I add the lime leaves and mushrooms.
When this new mix boils up briefly (to accomplish that we have to turn up the heat – naturally) we can start the taste adjustments. With lime juice, fish sauce and roasted chili paste we create a sour and spicy picture.
We are nearly done now. The mushrooms are cooked, Gina is finally done with the shrimp, so we give the shrimp a bath in the broth until they turn pink, turn off the heat, add the lightly crushed chilis and some cilantro leaves and – Dinner is served! Wonder when Gina will cook this all by herself.
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