Nay, just this side of Austin. The FIIIERRRY QUEEN of Thailand is one of my favorites, tom yum soup. That stuff.. it’s, well.. it’s
spicy. Really spicy. Like, cures everything that ails you spicy. Just got your heart broken? This’ll spice it right back together. OK, so maybe they claim its health benefits for certain little ailments like a generally stopped up nose, but whatever. I learned to make this baby in Paris, when I had all the veggies I so love to talk about.
For the last week, I’ve been eating prepackaged Indian meals at lunch at the law school, then usually conning the Boyfriend into taking me out to eat for dinner. There are two reasons for this:
1. My scholarship money was supposed to come in in August. But instead, I didn’t get it til yesterday. Yesterday! So I was basically the poorest of poor college students.
2. Contracts. Torts. Civ Pro. Enough said.
But today, ahh.. today. We don’t have classes on Friday, so I figured I might as well give in to my love of weird cooking and make this baby while I have the time. I love this stuff not quite as much as I love my tom kha, but I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to love anything more than I love tom kha. This is a close second.
It’s spicy and earthy and citrusy and delicious overall. I always add tofu, because I loooove tofu, but you can add chicken or, more traditionally, shrimp. Mushrooms, too, although I use button over the more traditional straw mushrooms. I add bamboo shoots to everything, the sustainable chef that I am, but that’s basically because I just love bamboo. A lot.
But the beauty of being immersed so suddenly in law and, specifically, torts, which could basically be summed up by: “You can sue anyone. For anything.”, I think of things a little differently now. If I were to serve this at a dinner party saying it’s not too spicy, you’ll be fine, blah blah blah, but then someone burned their mouth and suffered humiliation, could I be liable for battery?? Oh no! Keeping that in mind, I think I’ll just serve this to.. myself.
Tom Yum Tofu
(Note: Again, like with the tom kha, you can customize the meat in there. If you want chicken, I recommend doing what I did with the stuff in that recipe. If you’re using shrimp, I’d throw those babies in a bit before serving and just warm them to pink, so you don’t overcook them.)
28 ounces good Chinese chicken stock
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised and cut into about 1-2″ pieces
5 kaffir lime leaves, torn
5-6 Thai chiles, pounded, sliced, or left whole, depending on how spicy you want it
Fish sauce, to taste. That stuff can get really salty, so start out with less and add to taste.
About 2 tablespoons lime juice. Again, add and taste and adjust. The lime leaves will vary in limyness
About 1 chicken breast, 6 shrimp, or a 1/3 cup of cubed tofu (Note on the tofu: I like my tofu reeeeally firm, so here’s a trick: Drain it and freeze it in a plastic bag, then thaw. For some reason, it gets really firm and spongy that way, which is awesome.)
About two button mushrooms, sliced
About 1/4 cup sliced bamboo shoots
About a teaspoon of palm sugar, or light brown sugar