Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Good Facsimile Thereof: Tom Yum Gai

My husband has caught the cold that I had; being a veteran of this 3 week illness, I know he's got some hard time to do.   So I wanted to nurse him back to health, or at least nearer to health, with a bowl of the Thai hot and sour soup Tom Yum Gai.   I've never tried to make it myself because it requires things I don't often have, like kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.   Not wanting to venture out to the Asian market clear on the other side of town, I decided to try to make it with what I had.  I googled around looking for recipes, everything required exotic ingredients, so I decided to improvise with using some lemon zest for lemon grass and lime zest and bay leaves for kaffir limes, thinking this is a spicy soup anyway, so small nuances shouldn't matter.   Here's what I came up with:

Home Style Tom Yum Gai
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large skinless chicken breasts, diced 1/2 inch
1/2 medium onion, diced
4 cups chicken stock
6 thin slices fresh ginger
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 t. lemon zest
1/4 t. lime zest
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons chili paste
2 serrano chilies, thickly sliced
2 small tomatoes, cut into eighths.
5 button mushrooms, quartered
1 small can baby corn, drained
1/4 cup lime juice
2 green onions, sliced
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

In a medium-sized soup pot, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Saute the chicken and onion (not the green onions),  until the chicken is only a little bit pink and the onion translucent.
Add the stock, fish sauce, ginger, zests and the bay leaf.  Simmer 10 - 15 minute covered on medium-low heat.Add the sugar, chili paste, serranos, and sliced tomatoes, along with the mushrooms and corn.  Heat for another 10 minutes.  Turn heat fully to low and add the lime juice to taste. Add half of the diced cilantro and the green onions, then let simmer on low for another few minutes.

Serve topped with remaining onions and cilantro on top.

Delicious!  Or as my friend always used to describe soups when she was a restaurant reviewer: "restorative".  This recipe is definitely one I'll try again, even if no one is sick.

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