Monday, June 27, 2011

Hot-and-Sour Prawn Soup (Tom Yum Kung) and Thai Asparagus

There are soups that take forever to cook and then there are soups that come together very quickly, and are so tasty that you would think they took ages.  This soup is one of those soups that comes together in the blink of an eye and yet tastes like you have been simmering the broth all day.  It's sour, spicy, a little funky and a lot delicious.  It's not the best version of tom yum soup I have ever tasted, but it is definitely better than the versions they serve at most neighborhood Thai restaurants.  And it was so easy (and quick) to make!  As for the asparagus, we had already made a variation on the recipe with some haricots verts, so we knew that we liked the flavors.  But since we had some asparagus in the fridge and no real ideas on how to cook it, we thought it was a good opportunity to try out the same recipe as it was written (well, we modified it a little bit, but at least we used the correct vegetable this time).  As with the green beans, the asparagus came together very quickly and easily and tasted pretty good.  I'm not sure whether I liked the green beans or the asparagus better, but part of me thinks that the green beans might have been just a smidge better.  Maybe it's because we have asparagus all the time so the green beans were a nice change from our usual.  Or maybe it's because they were just better.  I'm not really sure.  Regardless of which vegetable is better, the meal was a very nice one that came together quickly and was quite tasty.
Recipes after the jump!

Hot-and-Sour Prawn Soup (Tom Yum Kung)
Adapted from The Food and Cooking of Thailand
By Judy Bastyra and Becky Johnson

1 lb raw king prawns (jumbo shrimp) with shells on, thawed if frozen
4 cups chicken stock
3 lemongrass stalks, roots trimmed and smashed with the flat side of a cleaver
10 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
can straw mushrooms, drained
3 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp scallion, chopped
1 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped
3 serrano chilis, seeded and thinly sliced

Peel the prawns, reserving the shells.  If your shrimp aren't already devined, devein them and set aside.

Rinse shrimp shells under cold water.  Put shells in a large pot with the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, add lemongrass and 5 lime leaves.  Lower heat to simmer.  Simmer gently until stock is fragrant, about 5-6 minutes.  Strain stock and return it to the pot over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and prawns.  Cook, stirring regularly, until prawns are pink.  Add fish sauce, lime juice, scallions, cilantro, chilis and remaining kaffir lime leaves.  Stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings, including s&p, if necessary.

Serve hot.

Thai Asparagus
Adapted from The Food and Cooking of Thailand
By Judy Bastyra and Becky Johnson

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, crushed with the flat side of a cleaver
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1-inch piece ginger, finely shredded
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 serrano chili, seeded and minced
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp water
1 tsp palm sugar

Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat.  Once oil is hot, add garlic, sesame seeds, and ginger unti the garlic just begins to turn golden, about 5-10 seconds.  Add asparagus and chili and stir-fry briefly, about 30 seconds.  Add fish sauce, soy sauce, water and palm sugar.  Cook asparagus, stirring frequently, until asparagus is beginning to become tender and liquid has reduced by half, about 3-4 minutes.


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