Until I worked with Thai chefs I thought Tom Yum soup was Tom Yum soup. There are actually many variations; all different and delicious in their own way. Now here’s a quick Thai lesson as I see it:
Tom Kha = Creamy soup (coconut cream or evaporated milk)
Tom Yum = Clear soup
Gai = Chicken
Goong = Prawns
Talay = Seafood
Here is my recipe for my favorite Thai soup, Tom Kha Goong, or spicy prawn and lemongrass soup with coconut and mushrooms. Feel free to use chicken stock but I actually prefer to shell the prawns and use the heads and shells to make my own prawn stock.
Tom Kha Goong
Thai prawn, coconut and lemongrass spicy soup
800ml Chicken Stock (or prawn stock)
2 sticks Lemongrass
3-4 Fresh red chilli
100g Straw mushroom (canned is still ok)
100g punnet Cherry tomatoes
1knob ginger (or galangal)
2-4 Limes (juice)
Fish sauce (nam pla) - to taste
1/2 bunch Coriander
200ml Coconut cream (or evaporated milk)
6 Kaffir lime leaves
Peel and slice the ginger, slice the garlic and slice the lemongrass and chilli (reserve some chilli for garnish).
Pound lightly the kaffir lime leaves with your knife handle to release some of the oils.
Bring the stock to the simmer and add the ginger, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and chilli. Infuse for 15-20 minutes. Halve the mushrooms and add to the soup with the whole cherry tomatoes and prawns and gently cook until the prawns are just done.
Add the coconut cream.
Season with some fish sauce and lime juice and a little sugar if you like.
Transfer to bowls and finish with some of the reserved chilli and coriander.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/
Filed under Blog, Recipes
As I sit at the over water bar on my day off, computer on my lap and cocktail in my hand, I turn to my wife and ask what “would you like to do for dinner?” This is always a big decision for me and sometimes drives my wife up the bend. Despite what most people think about chefs, I am not a fussy eater, I will try almost anything and enjoy any food no matter how simple or humble if it is done well. Deciding what to eat sometimes can be a big decision; sometimes it’s all so good! “Let’s have Thai” my wife responds and I happily agree.
I am all about Thai food right now and have always appreciated it since trying “real Thai” during my first posting in Asia. When at Pacific Regency hotel in KL I had the pleasure of overseeing a Thai restaurant. Luckily for me the whole Thai kitchen brigade were Thai and were led by a very talented cook Alex (real name unknown). Most of the experiences I had (thought) I had with Thai food back home had actually been watered down and “westernized” versions of stock standard Thai staples. Often cooked by non-Thai and executed poorly.
Why do I have such a soft spot for Thai food? Perhaps it reminds me of good times. It’s fresh and spicy with clean, vibrant and clearly defined flavors; many things that many great dishes aspire to be irrespective of style or country of origin. It has appeal to everyone, whether sitting in the fine dining Thai restaurant on the 23rd story of my old hotel in KL with my then girlfriend (later my fiancee then wife) or sitting with old friends in a car park on cheap plastic tables and chairs in Bangkok it’s just so goddamn enjoyable. Apparently there’s a chemical in chili’s which react with the receptors in the tongue the same way as heat (no shit) and register as burning, this pain causes the body to release endorphin’s. So it’s fresh, spicy and gives you endorphin’s… what more could you want?!