Tom Yum Soup
This is my favorite soup and I found a recipe I really like. We plan to serve this at the Tahoe Retreat!!
8 cups chicken stock (unsalted, homemade or store-bought)
2 stalks lemongrass (or three smaller stalks) or lemongrass paste
2 inches fresh ginger (peeled and thinly sliced)
6 lime leaves (also known as kaffir leaves; rinsed)
1 shallot (peeled)
1 lb straw mushrooms (or white button, or oyster mushrooms, cut into bite-size pieces) or straw mushrooms in the can
1-2 Tbsp Red Curry Paste (more or less depending on spice)
6 Tbsp fish sauce (plus more to taste)
3 dried red chiles (broken in half and seeds reserved)
1 lb shrimp (peeled and deveined, with heads and tails intact if desired)
Shrimp is optional- I use tofu or chicken sometimes
6 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro leaves (finely chopped)
4 fresh bird’s eye chiles (stemmed and bruised; seeded and de-veined for less heat; whole or sliced on the diagonal)
Four lime leaves (optional, but they look good in a bowl; not to be eaten)
Four cilantro twigs (optional; one twig per bowl)
Preparing the ingredients
Prepare the lemongrass stalks by trimming off leafy parts and the root end, and removing the tough outer layers of the bulb. Cut the bulb portions into 3-inch pieces and smash them with a cast iron pan or the blunt edge of a heavy knife until they are bruised and (almost) split in half. If they split, it's fine.
Cut the shallot in half and smash with cast iron pan, until it's bruised and juices start running.
Smash the lime leaves with a heavy object to get them bruised and aromatic.
Preparing the broth
In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add the lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves, and the shallot, turn down the heat to medium, and let the broth infuse for 5 minutes.
Using a perforated spoon, remove the lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves and the shallot.
Finish the soup
Turn the heat to high again and bring the broth to a boil. Stir in the red curry paste, then add the mushrooms. Boil for one minute.
Add the fish sauce, dried red chiles and the shrimp, and cook until the shrimp are pink, opaque, and firm, no more than 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Stir in the lime juice. Taste for seasoning and correct if needed (by adding more fish sauce, lime juice and red curry paste). You should taste the sour notes first, then salty, with mild sweetness from the red curry paste.
Stir in the chopped cilantro, ladle into bowls, garnish with fresh Thai chiles (whole or sliced), as well as the optional cilantro twig and lime leaf per bowl, and serve hot.