Hot and Sour Thai Soup Recipe

Hot and Sour Thai Soup Recipe Recipe

Tom Yum Thai soup has a unique taste. It's both spicy and sour and loaded with amazing flavors such as lemongrass, galangal, fresh kaffir limes leaves and coconut milk. For this version, I combined fresh water chestnuts, sugar snap peas, tamarind, red chili powder, baby squid and mackerel. You could also add shrimp or chicken. And of course, the soup is easy to make vegetarian as well.

The warmth of the broth is very soothing. I usually serve this seafood soup with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice on the side, which makes a complete meal while still being pretty healthy (you could also omit the coconut milk if you're health conscious). Give this recipe a try; I promise you won't be disappointed!

Ingredients

Yields: 8 servings

4 stalks lemongrass
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn into thirds
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth (or fish stock)
1 (6-inch) piece fresh galangal (or ginger), rinsed and crushed
1-½ teaspoons salt, to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
½ pound frozen, pre-cleaned baby squid, thawed
2 tablespoons freshly grated palm sugar, to taste
½ cup soy sauce, to taste
6 ounces water chestnuts
2 tablespoons Tom-Yum paste (see tips)
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 green Thai bird chile, cut into thirds
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
½ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
10 ounces mackerel , cleaned, scaled and diced (1-½")
1-½ teaspoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped


Directions

Prepping the lemongrass: Wash the lemongrass. Remove the white powder from the leaves. Cut the stalks into thirds. Crush and bruise the younger part with the back of a chef's knife (or a meat hammer) and set it aside.

How to cook water chestnuts: Wash the chestnuts in cold water and then soak them in lukewarm water for about 30 minutes. With a paring knife, make a small criss-cross cut at the root of each water chestnut. Make sure the incision is not too deep so as not to cut the flesh of the chestnut. Place the chestnuts in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 30 minutes.
 Allow to cool. As soon as they are not too hot to handle, shell the water chestnuts, slice them and then cut the slices in half.

Prepping the hot and sour broth:

In a 5-quart stockpot, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the kaffir lime leaves, crushed galangal and lemongrass stalks. Cook for 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve. Discard the solids. Pour the broth back into the pot.

Check the sourness of the broth. Add the lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add soy sauce and salt. Taste again. Finish with palm sugar (if necessary). The secret is to balance the sweetness and the saltiness. Be sure not to over-salt! Add the coconut milk. Bring to a near-boil, then add the green chile, water chestnuts and sugar snap peas. Cook for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

For the seafood: Place the fish in a small bowl. Add black pepper. Mix well. Add the baby squid.

Assembly time:

In a small pan, heat the oil and cook the shallots until caramelized. Transfer the shallots to the broth, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan.

Add the garlic to the pan. Cook until slightly golden. Make sure the pan in hot, then add the fish. Stir fry for about 2 minutes. Do not over-cook as the mackerel will finish cooking in the broth. Add the tom yum paste (click on the link for the recipe) and about a ladle or two of broth. Turn off the heat.

Bring the broth from the main pot back to a boil, then add the contents from the pan and the baby squid. Add cilantro. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes.

The broth should be fragrant and properly seasoned.

Accompany the soup with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice on the side.

Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!


Tips

The broth should be made in 3 steps in this order: sour, salt and sweet. It's very important that you taste the broth at every step to ensure a balance of flavors.

You could use the left-over heads and bones from the mackerel to make fish stock.

Tom yum paste is a combination of tamarind concentrate, kaffir lime leaves, chili powder, lemongrass, galangal and a squeeze of lime juice. You could also use a store-bought version (it can be found in any Asian market).

We're very lucky to get kaffir lime leaves from our garden. They're very useful and smell so nice. If you have the space to plant a kaffir lime tree, go for it; it's a good investment if you're into Asian cooking.

You can find lemongrass in any Asian market. Lemongrass is sold in bunches of 5 stalks, so plan other dishes using lemongrass. You could also finely chop the remaining lemongrass and store it in the freezer by placing a few tablespoons in an ice-cube tray.

You can find fresh water chestnuts in most Asian markets. You could also use the canned version.

The addition of caramelized shallots to the broth prevents the soup from being tanh ("fishy") when the seafood is added. It's a trick when cooking seafood or meat in broth.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on January 13, 2012.


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