1 lemongrass stalk, cleaned and crushed with a kitchen mallet, then tied into a knot
1 oz dried Oyster mushrooms, chopped
1 oz dried Shiitake mushrooms, chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves, dried or fresh, left whole
1 knob galangal, peeled, sliced, and smashed (or 1 t ginger plus 1/4 t ground black pepper)
6 cups water
1 tablespoons fish sauce
Soup Toppings to be added fresh at the table:
4 crushed Thai chili peppers (or jalapeno)
Hot chili garlic sauce
6 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
6 scallions, sliced
2 limes, quartered
Spoon Mage™ Note:
To prep the lemongrass, clean a stalk and remove the outer layers. Use only the bottom 4-6 inches of the stalk. Crush the lemongrass with the back of your knife or a meat tenderizing mallet – this opens the plant’s cells to flavor the stock. Tying the stalk into a knot makes it easier to remove from the soup after it has flavored the stock.
In this soup the kaffir lime leaves are treated rather like bay leaves. They add flavor to the soup stock, but you do not eat them. Look for the leaves fresh or dried in Asian markets. If you cannot find kaffir lime leaves, don’t worry but do not try to substitute other lime leaves. It does not replace the kaffir, but you might might want to squish in more lime at the table just to enhance that element.
Galangal is similar to ginger, but tastes more peppery. Use it in the way you would ginger, peel and crush. You may use ginger and a little ground black pepper in place of galangal.
You might prefer far more fish sauce than I do. If you enjoy the flavor fish sauce adds to the dish, feel free to double the amount.
For a less intensely mushroom experience, substitute one 8 oz package of your favorite mushrooms in place of the dried mushrooms. Or add another cup or so of water. It will still be delicious, just different!
During the final 10 minutes of cooking, add small peeled, deveined fresh shrimp.
Using a very sharp knife, slice the dried mushrooms into thirds lengthwise.
Remove the leafy part of the fresh kaffir lime leaves and discard the stem. Or use dried leaves as they are from the jar.
Peel, slice, and crush the galangal or ginger with a kitchen mallet.
Add the knotted lemongrass, dried mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and water to a medium sized pot. Bring to a low simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes. The mushrooms will rehydrate and flavor the stock.
Drain the soup into a bowl through a strainer. Carefully tip the stock back into the pot making sure not to pour in the bit of sediment in the bottom of the bowl. Taking care here leaves you with a beautifully clear stock.
Allow the mushroom mix to cool a few minutes so it can be handled.
Separate and discard the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal from the mushrooms. Pick through to remove small bits of stems.
Rinse and return the cleaned mushrooms to the stock pot.
Add fish sauce to the soup, bring to a low simmer and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Taste and add more pepper, fish stock, or finely minced ginger. Adjusting the flavors is all about making the soup suit you. Never worry about going “off recipe”, that is when some of the most delicious things happen!
At this point you can put the soup on hold until dinner.
Shortly before serving, bring the soup to a full boil.
Prepare the Toppings:
While the soup cooks, crush (or slice) the chili peppers, chop the cilantro, tomato, scallion, and cut wedges from the limes.
Place each in a separate serving bowl and set on the table.
Serve the soup piping hot.
Part of the fun of Yum Tom is that each bowl is individually addressed to suit the taste of your guests. Enjoy with Thai Basil Chicken or all by itself.