bits and pieces

Sunday, September 12, 2010

thai red curry soup

Thai ! This soup is based on tom kha gai which is a thai soup with lemongrass, spicy goodness, and coconut milk. This is probably one of my favourite soups ever. I make mine with shrimp and veggies, but you can also throw chicken in here and it will be just as tasty. This soup can be made in advance and reheated, just make sure you don't boil the coconut milk. Boiled coconut milk in this soup separates and gets all nasty. A simmer is ok, but a rolling boil = bad news bears.

1 tbsp veggie oil (canola is good)
3-4 tsp red curry paste
2-4 lemongrass stalks*
2-3 tbsp minced ginger

4 cups chicken broth (veggie = a-ok!)
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 cans of coconut milk
2 tbsp lime juice
1 cup of peeled, thawed/fresh shrimp (you can also add or substitute chicken, or scallops)
2-3 cups of assorted veggies (I like to use cherry tomatoes, diced mushrooms, bamboo shoots, chopped celery, maybe an onion, etc)

other things you'll need:
a big giant soup pot (BIG. this makes a lot of soup)

  1. heat your oil in the bottom of your big giant soup pot over medium to medium-high heat. once its hot, stir in your red curry paste and cook for a few seconds in the oil (the oil should start to turn red like the paste). Then stir in your ginger, and lemongrass and cook for 1 min until it's really fragrant.
  2. Add your broth slooooowly and then stir in the brown sugar and fish sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes over medium heat.
  3. Add your coconut milk, shrimp, and veggies (if you're using harder veggies, like celery or onions, they can go in now - if you're using 'softer' veggies, like cherry tomatoes, they can go in a few minutes later so they don't get too soggy from over cooking. just use your judgment).
  4. Stir in your lime juice, cilantro, and salt to taste and simmer over low to medium low heat for 5 minutes of so. Your soup should be coconut milk-y with a red spicy oil floating on the top. If it's not totally combined - don't worry, it's not supposed to be!
note: again, as always, ginger, curry paste, and the lemongrass can be adjusted according to your taste. Sometimes I want this spicy as hell and add something obscene like 2 or 3 tbsp of curry paste. If you're not a masochist like me, maybe tone it down. Don't over salt this soup as the coconut milk and other flavours are relatively delicate and drowning something in salt isn't nice. If you reheat this soup, throw in a little more fresh cilantro. It really seems to rejuvenate the soup.

*note on the lemongrass - you can buy lemongrass in a jar at most grocery stores in the Asian food section. Fresh lemongrass is sometimes harder to find, but the jar-stuff is pretty darn good. For the jarred lemongrass - pulverize your stalks a little.. whack them with the back of a knife like you're trying to bruise them and then roughly hack them to pieces. If you're using fresh, peel off the outer layers and then REALLY go to town on your stalks, bruise them, beat them, roughly chop them. You don't want to cut them too finely as you're intending to EAT the lemongrass (although it doesn't matter if you do obviously), its suppose to flavour your broth.

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