Friday, July 13, 2007

Tom Yum soup

Tom yum kung
Tom yum fish

K, when he first started to cook was obsessed with Thai food and this legendary soup has his total attention. Can't blame him, a whiff of the aromatic soup is enough to trigger off a major drooling session!
How many ways to prepare Tom yum? I don't know. How many not-quite-there Tom yums have we put our taste buds through? I don't know either, countless! K will order the soup wherever he sees one in the menu and most times, we walked away disappointed. In KK, there is a trend to add milk to tom yums, yikes! So, K was on a mission...and it was all for a good cause... He tried many recipes from newspaper cut-outs, magazines, cooking programmes on TV and books. He concluded that the key to a good tom yum soup is a good stock. No chicken stock cubes will suffice!
Today, I cooked and chose his easiest recipe which has a clear soup (me and my clear soup!). It is light and mild but with all the lovely fragrance and aroma guaranteed.

The essentials for a good tom yum

Lemongrass, kaffir leaves, lime, tomatoes, galangal, bird's eye chilli and chilli paste. Don't forget the coriander stems and roots (not in the pic but very essential).

A mild chilli paste from Thailand

Tom yum soup

Serve 4-6

Ingredients for stock:

300g pork bones or a small kampung chicken, chopped and parboiled*

1 bulb garlic

2-3 tomatoes, quartered

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2L water

- Bring the 2L water to boil. Add all the ingredients. Bring it to boil again, quickly lower heat and let simmer for an hour or so. For the soup to be clear do not let the stock boil vigorously, just let it simmer with slight bubbling.
*If you like you can substitute the meat with prawn heads and shells for tom yum kung but I used the same stock for both fish and prawn.

Ingredients for the lovely fragrance:

4-5 stalks lemongrass, bruised
3-4 slices galangal
2-3 stalks coriander (stems and roots), washed off grits from roots
2-3 tomatoes, quartered
- Put all the above into the simmering stock. Boil for another 15-20 minutes.

- Strain and discard the roots and put the meat aside.

Ingredients when about to serve:
Fish slices, fish head, prawns, chicken slices, squid, mussels, clams or maybe even lobster's meat (need I go on?? No, think I'll leave it to your own creativity!).

2-3 tablespoon chilli paste (nam prik pao)

3-4 kaffir leaves, torn

2 tomatoes, quartered - optional

4-5 mushroom (oyster, enoki, shitake or button)

3-5 bird's eye chilli, crushed (leave them whole if can't deal with the heat)

2 tablespoon fish sauce, to taste

2-3 tablespoon lime juice, to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

cilantro, for garnishing

- Add chilli paste, tomatoes, kaffir leaves and fish, cook for 3-5 minutes.
(For the rest of the seafood mentioned above, if used, add in only at the last minute of cooking to avoid overcooking.)

- Add mushroom, chilli, sugar and fish sauce, cook for 2 minutes.

- Turn off heat; add lime juice - adjust to suit taste.

- Dish into individual bowls and sprinkle coriander leave to garnish.

Note: A cheats tom yum...
The chilli paste you see below is a real god-send for a quick home-cooked tomyum. As you can see from the ingredients listed on the label, it has most of the essentials covered. All you need now is the stock and ingredients to serve (prawns, chicken or fish etc..). This has been tried and proven with wonderful results. Can get it in most Asian supermarkets.

Tae-pee instant Tom yum paste

Ingredients listed



Hamster said...

You might be interested in this website.
It's got about 30 recipes each one with a cooking video to go along
Good if you like to try cooking Thai food at home

The Drool Team said...

Thanks, hamster, for the tip. We will surely pop into the site.

Iml said...

Stumble upon your blog while searching for the recipe. Going to have this for tonight. Thanks for the posting. Didn't know even tom yum soup needs to boil stock.