Friday, January 16, 2009

Hot and Sour Soup

I have recently become enamored with Thai food. I always considered thai food a less appealing version of Chinese food. This was erroneous thinking on my part. As I continue to expand my experiences and my palate, I have grown to love the flavors of Thai cooking, and see that it is nothing at all like Chinese food!

My new favorite Thai restaurant is Spoon Thai on N. Western Ave. I first went there for a friend's birthday at least a year ago. Late this fall Jason and I were craving some Thai food and decided to stop in for some carry out. Now, we're addicted!

My favorite dish so far on their menu is their Tom Yum Soup. I could eat this every day. I don't know how they do it, but it is one of the best soups I have ever tried.

And so, I tried to recreate it at home. I had been intending to make some sort of asian style soup, more in choice of vegetables than in flavor, although I intended to perhaps throw some miso in. I hit Stanley's first for the veggies and then on to Whole Foods. Walking through the aisles in Whole Foods, I stumbled upon the thai section and inspiration was born.

- 2 32-oz containers of organic, low-sodium vegetable stock (I used Imagine brand, I only had
a cup or two of homemade in my freezer)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 stalks lemongrass, sliced
- a few slices of fresh ginger
- 1 tsp (give or take) of chili paste
- shiitake mushrooms
- baby corn
- bamboo shoots
- bok choy

Now granted, this is a very loose interpretation of Tom Yum, although from the few recipes I had browsed the lemongrass, fish sauce, ginger portion was right on. I had purchased the bok choy before I realized this would be an actual Tom Yum, I would not add it in the future. And Tom Yum would normally have straw mushrooms instead of shiitake.

All in all, not a bad first attempt. I need to do some more research. The soup approximated the taste of Tom Yum I've had in the past, but didn't quite hit the mark.

Interesting observation, as I was about to pour the Fish Sauce in, I realized I had never actually tasted it on its own. Strangely enough, it tastes exactly how stinky french cheese smells.

I also have amassed quite a collection of asian condiments in the last 2 months. Hoisin, oyster sauce, garlic black bean and now fish sauce (on top of the normal rice vinegars, sesame oils, tamari etc.). J has accused me of going a little crazy with the chili paste recently. I like the heat in the winter!

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