Thursday, April 22, 2010

tom yum pak

Tom yum pak. It sounds like a greeting: Come, have soup with me.

It’s not a direct translation from the Thai, but tom yum pak means something like this: fragrant hot and sour vegetable soup.

You might have met its cousins, tom yum goong (prawn soup) and tom yum gai (chicken soup), which seem to be more popular in Thai restaurants.

Indeed, I haven’t been able to find tom yum pak in Victoria, so I conjured this up. It’s based on my memory of tom yum pak from the delicious Siam Bistro in Ottawa.

This is not a creamy, coconut milk Thai soup. It’s clear and full of lemongrass and sour lime and hot pepper. The vegetables are fresh and cooked until they are just crisp.

We made a Saturday night dinner of it with chicken satay and peanut sauce. I’ll post those recipes one day when I remember to take a picture of them.

In the meantime, tom yum pak.

tom yum pak

makes 5 to 6 bowls

6 c. chicken stock
2 tbsp. butter
6 kaffir lime leaves
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 – 3 tbsp. ginger, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
4 stalks lemongrass, peeled and chopped
1 – 2 red chili peppers, roughly chopped
2 tsp. sugar
1 large tomato, chopped
1/3 head of cauliflower, broken into small, bite-sized trees
2 large carrots, chopped on a diagonal angle (to look pretty)
1/3 c. lime juice (about 1.5 limes)
1/2 tsp. lime rind, grated
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
4 green onions or an equivalent amount of chives, finely sliced
1 – 2 tsp. Thai fish sauce
salt and pepper to taste

In a big pot, bring 2 cups water, chicken stock, butter, lime leaves, garlic, ginger, onion, lemongrass, chili pepper and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Place a big bowl under a fine colander. Strain the soup, keeping the liquid. Fish out the lime leaves, and put them back in the liquid.

Pour the strained liquid back into the pot, and return to heat.

Add the tomato, cauliflower, carrots and lime juice. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the cauliflower and carrot are tender-crisp – about 10 minutes. Take out the lime leaves.

Stir in the lime rind, cilantro and green onions.

Add fish sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

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