Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tom Yum Gai (Thai hot and sour soup)

Well first of I want to say this is going to be a dual post..The soup needs chicken stock as a base and I've been saving bones,wing tips and carcass since about summer time.Well it's time for stock, there are many definitions as to what stock is,some say stock is made with bones and broth is made with raw chicken meat.Stock is the base and broth is the finished product.Well I've done a lot of reading up on the subject and decided to kind of combine both techniques..First off I rinsed the bones and meat a few times under cold water to help cut down on the scum that forms while cooking.Then i put a standard mirepoix in the bottom of a roasting pan,added the raw bones and tips and roasted them @ 450 for about a hour and a half until they were nice and brown.I turned them a couple of times so they got even color.
Then I added some leftover meat and carcass to the pot
Then I added about 3 Gallons of water to my stock pot and brought it to a boil and reduced it to a simmer with the pot offset of the burner..this helps with skimming the fat and scum from the surface.While it was cooking I prepared everything else.First a standard sachet,bay leaf,garlic,thyme,whole peppercorns and parsley stems,then wrapped it up in cheesecloth and tied it with twine
I also made another mirepoix 2 parts onion 1 part celery and carrot.then I let the stock cook for about 4 1/2 hours while skimming the pot of fat and scum..once it stopped I added the mirepoix and sachet and let it cook for another hour and a half..after about 6 hours I strained it off into containers through cheesecloth..and this is what i ended up with.
Now on to the soup,this soup is a Thai classic that can be turned into many different versions.I'm doing Tom Yum Gai..if i added shrimp it would be called tom yum goong..if it was fish tom yum pla..mixed seafood tom yum talay..so forth and so on any way the protein really doesn't matter it's all about the broth or stock!..these ingredients cannot be found at your local supermarket(sorry)but any good asain market should have them and they are worth seeking out..everything cost less than 20 bucks not counting the chicken..Thai cooking involves 5 flavors..they are spicy/hot,bitter/aromatic,salty,sweet and sour..so most Thai dishes combine all of these things into one balanced marriage of flavors..Ok enough of my yapping..

Galangal..looks like ginger but is more peppery..about ten slices
Lemongrass..three stalks sliced then beaten with the back of a knife to release the oils
kaffir lime leaves..3 or four they can be found frozen too
1 onion quartered
4 oz oyster mushrooms..its what they had that was fresh..you could use canned straw ones but they are kind of slimy
6 cups of chicken stock..plus 4 cups water
4 chicken breasts..pop these in the freezer until almost frozen and stiff.then slice as thin as you can
3 tablespoons of tamarind sauce..I used Por Kwan brand
3 tablespoons Thai chili sauce..I used Mae Pranom brand
3 tablespoons tom yum paste..Again Por Kwan brand
3 tablespoons of fish sauce..I used Squid brand
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch green onion
10 to 15 thai bird chiles
juice of two limes
20 cherry tomatoes..halved
In this picture I didn't have the chicken,onion or tomatoes out yet
Now once you have every thing ready..add the stock and water to the pot and bring up to a boil,add the onion,lemongrass,galangal,lime leaves,all of the sauces and paste and chiles..once back to a boil reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour.
now strain it..the onion is really the only thing you should leave in if you want..I didn't
once strained add the thinly sliced chicken..it will cook in just a few minutes,next add the mushrooms,cook a few minutes more then add the tomatoes and the lime juice..give it a good stir and taste it..it should hit on all five flavors..i added a little sugar to bring up the sweetness and also added more fish sauce to up the salt factor..garnish with fresh cilantro and green onion..it should be served piping hot!..hope you enjoy.