Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tom Yum Soup Redux

Yes, I have been away from the blog for muuunths, and what do I post when I come back? Food porn.

A certain Mr. AA recently accused me of having an inexplicable obsession with food. "Everywhere you go, you have food with you. It's like you're afraid of starving to death."

Both sentences are true, but the latter does not necessarily result in the former.

Let's face it, blogs about what you're cooking or what you're eating are boring. And ninety percent of blogs in the world are either food porn or cat porn blogs. It's true because I went to the trouble to make up that statistic.

With all that in mind, let me not only share this recipe for tom yum soup that I made tonight, but let me also point out that I've already posted about tom yum soup on this blog.

The thing is, the first time I talked about tom yum soup here, I was in Thailand, where tom yum ingredients were everywhere. This week I went to the Chinese grocery store near me, where I spotted fresh lemongrass, fresh kaffir lime leaves, and galangal, and finally decided to buckle down and try my tom yum soup recipe Stateside, with Stateside ingredients.

Actually, that's a little misleading. I used to make tom yum soup in New York. But fresh kaffir lime leaves were hard to come by, as was galangal. I only knew of two Thai grocery stores in Manhattan, and one told me to go to the other to get kaffir lime leaves, which turned out to be frozen.

I am posting this recipe for a second time because I want to make an important note to myself, which I'd forgotten after all these years: don't add lime juice until you've dished the soup into your own bowl. Otherwise the citric acid wilts some of the ingredients. If you're a true Thai, you wait until you get to the table to add the lime juice, fish sauce, and chili peppers.

Thai ingredients procured Stateside. That is a massive bag of kaffir lime leaves.
Today's soup:
kaffir lime leaves
pork short ribs
3 kinds of mushrooms (white, enoki, something called "seafood mushrooms" in its Chinese packaging)
mung bean vermicelli noodles
chili pepper (I used jalapeno but Thai people use Thai chili peppers, of course)
lime juice
fish sauce

The fresh stuff - lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime - isn't nearly as fragrant as what you get in Thailand. I was worried the soup would end up flavorless, so I used more kaffir lime than I usually do. It turned out to be just the right amount.

Usually I find kaffir lime overpowering and only use a few leaves, but apparently here in the States I can be generous and not worry about giving myself a kaffir lime headache. Yes, it has happened.

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