Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Crawl on in

I love those food moments where you order something new and usual (to you) at a restaurant, and the first bite is (unexpected) magic in your mouth.

On a trip through the Olympic Peninsula, last year, we at a meal at a small and unassuming Thai restaurant. For reasons still unknown to me, I ordered Tom Kha Gai soup. I'm not sure if it was the location, how hungry we were or the fact that it came in such a fancy pot, but that soup was AMAZING. This soup was so good, it made you just want to crawl into the bowl and roll around soaking up those delicious silky flavors. We have since attempted to order it at almost every Thai place we go to, and although some have come close, we have not been able to recreate the fabulousness that was THAT soup.

What's a girl to do, but roll up her sleeves and try it herself! I found an easy to follow recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Tigers & Strawberries. The recipe below is a variation of her recipe, suited to fit what was in the fridge.

Being in the midwest, galangal and keffir lime leaves aren't to be found in abundance (although, oddly enough, my local grocery store sells lemon grass 5 shoots for $2!). So this (obviously) isn't going to be authentic, but it was still delicious.

Tom Kha Gai

1 quart beef stock (this is what I had, chicken would probably be better)
2 cans coconut milk
5 slices dried galangal root**
4 lemon grass stalks trimmed with the outer layers removed
The peels of 2 limes
2 TBS red curry paste
4 TBS fish sauce
8 fresh mushrooms thinly sliced
1 chicken breast cut into small pieces
Juice from 2 limes
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cillantro leaves

I've tried this before with ginger, not the same, but better then no soup

Combine broth, galangal, lemon grass, lime, and curry paste and bring to a simmer. Add the coconut milk and fish sauce. Simmer for 1 hour.

Add mushrooms, chicken, and peppers and simmer until chicken is done. Add lime juice, and cilantro leaves, and enjoy. And see if the urge to climb into that bowl and swim around doesn't hit you too.


Tom Page said...

I'm hoping that the following pun was intended: "This soup was so good, it made you just want to crawl into the bowel and roll around soaking up those delicious silky flavors."

bowel = stinky inner parts
bowl = holding vessel for foodstuff

Well played. And nasty.

Hygeian Stew said...

Unfortunately, I can't claim to be that witty (or disgusting), simply a poor speller.

Paula said...

I call that "chasing the dragon"...when you try to follow up an awesome experience (in your instance its the sooooup) but it never lives up to that first time.