Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup)
There are endless variations of how Tom Yum Goong is made in Thailand. This one is how my Aunt taught me. The soup is, of course, finished with her famous Nam-prik Pao.
½ kilo or 1 pound of shrimp, buy those with heads attached and has a red/orange fat visible inside the head.
6 cups of water
one big handful of kaffir lime leaves
another big handful of lemongrass, discard the outer layers and cut to 2' pieces
a few thick slices of Galangal, peeled
1 cup sliced mushroom, you can use either cremini or shitake, or both
juice from 3 limes, you may need more
about ¼ cup of fish sauce
2 tbsp of Nam-prik Pao
a few bird eye chillies (Thai chillies)
mise en place:
Shrimps: rinse, peel and devain the shrimps, reserve the shells and heads. Squeeze the fat out from the heads and reserve in a separate bowl.
First you make the stock:
Heat the shells, heads, in a pot with the water. Bruise the kaffir lime leaves and smash the lemongrass and galangal a bit and throw them into the pot. (Reserve a few lime leaves, a slice or two of galangal, and some lemon grass for the soup later) After the water come to a full boil, lower the heat to simmer and continue to cook for about 5 minutes. Strain, crush the shells and heads well to squeeze all the yummy taste from them.
Then the soup:
Heat the stock to a boil, add the shrimp, shrimp fat, mushrooms, and the rest of the lime leaves and lemongrass. When the shrimps are just done (take care not to overcook the shrimps), turn the heat off. Season with fish sauce, lime juice and Nam-prik Pao. If you like it hotter, smash up a few chillies and throw them in. The taste should be sour, salty, hot, with a slight sweetness at the end.
I often throw in a few extra chillies whole, letting my guest smash them up with a spoon in their own bowls. This way everyone can control their own level of heat. My dear wimpy friend Valerie is eternally grateful to me for this. :-)