Tom Yum is my favorite soup of all time. It is hot, sour, fresh and full of flavor. I'm a big fan of spicy food and fresh flavors, and Thai cuisine has an amazing way of bringing those two together. Last year I went backpacking through Thailand and I was absolutely blown away by the food. I had countless curries, pad thai, noodle soups and spicy papaya salads, everything was amazing. Unfortunately however, I didn't discover Tom Yum until the
very end of my trip. I remember vividly the first time I had it. I was with my friend Kat spending our last days on a tropical island cut off from the rest of the world. With no reception on our mobile phones and no electricity during the day, all we did was eat, relax, and wait until we could eat some more. At some point Kat told me Tom Yum was really good, so I thought I'd give it a try. I got a huge bowl of red soup, it looked alright and smelled alright too.. And yes, I expected it to be nice, but nothing could have prepared me for that first bite... it was an explosion of flavor in my mouth! I couldn't believe my taste buds, was there truly something that delicious? Right there and then I fell in love with Tom Yum. The kind of love where you just can't get enough of each other. I loved Tom Yum so much, I didn't want this to end up as a summer romance. So I decided to take Tom Yum home with me and introduce him to my friends and family..
|It was meant to be..|
Since I love Tom Yum so much, I was delighted to find out making it is not as hard as I thought. It's actually pretty simple, all you have to do is add a bunch of ingredients to boiling stock and that's it. That being said, there are some pointers to take into account when making it. It is important to not overcook ingredients, you don't want to end up with rubbery shrimp for example. And you will only get a good result using fresh ingredients.
The soup carries quite a few tropical ingredients [available in Asian supermarkets]. If you are unfamiliar with them, please don't be scared of them, I'm sure once you'll get to know them you'll love them as much as I do ;-) ! The lime leafs are simply leafs from a certain kind of lime tree. Buy them fresh or frozen (don't use dried or powdered ones). Lemon grass has an amazing smell and gives a fantastic flavor to this soup. Beating it, and slicing it on an an angle will help release more flavor. Galangal root is similar to ginger, and used in a similar fashion. Roasted Chili paste consists of a blend of Thai spices and roasted chili. It gives the soup a red color and makes it spicy.
I like to serve the soup Thai style, leaving the galangal, lemongrass & lime leafs in the soup. You are not supposed to eat them. They are not poisonous, but they are not great to chew on either. You can take them out before you serve, but I like to leave them in for as much flavor as possible.
Tom Yum Soup
3 pints of chicken stock
3 stalks of Lemongrass
3 tablespoons of Galangal root (about one medium sized root)
10 Kaffir Lime leafs
1 tablespoon roasted chili paste [use 2 if you like super spicy like me]
1 3/4 tablespoon fish sauce
juice of 1 lime [or more according to taste]
1/2 cup / 100 gr Straw mushrooms
1-2 thai Chilipepers [or 8-12 if you're going for super spicy]
10 medium shrimp [uncooked]
1 tablespoon coriander/cilantro
1 green onion
Start by cleaning your shrimp. This is a nasty job but it has to be done. Take off the shells and cut throught the center. Then take out the gut. Once they're all clean set aside until the very end
Heat your chicken stock and turn down to a medium heat
Finely slice your Galangal and add 3 tablespoons to the stock thin slices
[you can do this with any object you like (hammers, boyfriends etc.) I usually do it with the back of my knife]
Remove the dry outer layers, the bottom and the grassy tops.
and cut on an angle
pieces should be around 1 inch / 2.5 cm
Add to the lemon grass to the boiling stock
Remove the center vain from the lime leaves
Add the limeleaves to the stock
Boil this for about 2 minutes
In the meanwhile
Peal the shallots
Keep them whole and add them to the soup
Add the chili paste & fish sauce
[the amount of chili paste is according to taste.. how much can you handle?]
Then squeeze the lime and add this to the soup
Dice the tomatoes and add to the soup
Clean the mushrooms
Add to the soup
[I couldn't get hold of straw mushrooms so I used these white beach mushrooms]
Add chili according to taste
[I liked 8, my friends however did not.. maybe 1 or 2 is better..]
Add spring onion and cook for 30 seconds
Then add the coriander
Remove the soup from the heat and add the cleaned shrimps.
The shrimps will cook in the heat of the soup. They will be cooked perfectly!
Garnish with some fresh coriander on top,