Vegetarians, look away. I'm going to go into detail about fermented shellfish, because I just cooked my first Thai dish!
For my first try, I decided to go with this delightful sounding Thai Coconut Soup. It has a hefty ingredient list, with several items I have never cooking with before, including red curry paste, fish sauce, shrimp paste, lemongrass, and shiitake mushrooms. My friend Molly helped me stock my pantry with some of these Thai food essentials awhile back, so it was time to put them to the test...
The gathered ingredients...don't they look fancy? I made an extra trip to an Asian market here to get the Red Curry Paste. This picture is missing the Shrimp Paste, because I decided to throw that in last minute.
First, grate the ginger and slice the shiitake mushrooms. Heaven help us, shiitake mushrooms are EXPENSIVE! I've seen steak for much cheaper.
|Pondering a costly mushroom|
Next, in goes the chicken broth. Then I got a wild hair, and decided to incorporate some of the Shrimp Paste I've been curious to use.
Ya'll. The bottle looks innocent enough, but this stuff smells awful. Like you've got lots of dead shellfish covering your kitchen floor. I only added 1/2 tsp, but I wondered if the soup would be ok. Who originally thought to eat this stuff?
Next, the brown sugar and the fish sauce. We're going from glory to glory here. More fishy smells. Now you let the soup simmer for 15 minutes and pray that heat helps things along (i.e. makes the smells go away!).
Then in goes the coconut milk (yay!) and the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are soft, around 5 minutes.
Next, slide in the shrimp and cook until they are done, around 5 minutes.
Lastly, I added the lime juice (it changed the flavor so subtlety for the better!) and some salt. Garnish with cilantro (love) and you're done! No more fishy smells. In fact, this soup rocks! We had it over rice.
Seconds all around! I'm freezing a portion of this soup to see how it handles that. Here's the official recipe:
Thai Coconut SoupVery slightly adapted from this recipe
*Printable Recipe*Ingredients:1 TBSP vegetable oil or coconut oil
2 TBSP grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. lemon grass paste or 1 stalk lemon grass, minced
2 tsp. red curry paste
1 tsp. shrimp paste
4 cups chicken broth
3 TBSP fish sauce
1 TBSP light brown sugar
3 (13.5 oz) cans coconut milk
1/2 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced (I only used 1/4 lb)
1 lb medium shrimp--peeled and deveined
2 TBSP fresh lime juice (I used from concentrate juice)
salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
First, grate the ginger and slice the shiitake mushrooms. Then heat the oil in a large pan and add in the lemon grass, red curry paste, shrimp paste, and ginger. I used lemongrass paste, since I couldn't find the fresh stuff anywhere. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Then add the chicken broth, stirring constantly. Stir in the brown sugar and fish sauce and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk and the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are soft, around 5 minutes. Next, slide in the shrimp and cook until they are done, around 5 minutes. Lastly, add the lime juice and salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.
So, what do you think? Would you give this soup a try, shrimp paste and fish sauce and all? Do you ever make Thai dishes at home?