Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thai Coconut Lemongrass Soup

We are back! If I had known we'd be gone so long I would have posted a "See you in September" kind of note. Somehow, I always forget just how hectic the second half of summer is for my office and I don't really see it coming. Anyway, we've been cooking a little, trying to come up with recipes that are easy and pleasing, with just enough style to feel satisfied if company drops in.

A few weeks ago we took my brother and his fiancee to one of our favorite spots in Daytona -- Zen Bistro. This is a small, family run restaurant off Beach Street. The food is great and the price is right. We wanted to recreate the coconut milk lemongrass soup (Tom Kha Gai). This came pretty close. Enjoy!

*As one reader pointed out, Fish Sauce is not vegetarian. There are vegetarian versions, though, available in Asian food markets. You can make your own substitute, too, using a combination of kelp and soy sauce (for that fishy flavor) or using a mushroom stock/soy sauce blend that will add that kick to the recipe. You can still enjoy a vegan version of this soup.

TOM KHA GAI -- Spicy lemongrass soup with coconut milk.
Many recipes call for shrimp to be added in the last minute or two of cooking. We left it out for obvious reasons.

2 13 oz cans of coconut milk
2 cups water
1 inch piece of galangal, grated (use more ginger if you cannot find this)
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
4 stalks lemongrass, bruised and coarsely chopped
6 fresh basil leaves, torn (use 8-10 kaffir lime leaves if you can find them)
1 lb shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup lime juice
3 Tablespoons vegetarian fish sauce or substitute*
1-2 teaspoons brown sugar (add more if you like)
1- 2 teaspoon red curry paste
2 Tablespoons sliced green onions
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
red chili powder to taste for medium or hot

In a large pot, bring the coconut mile and 2 cups of water to a simmer .
Add the galangal, ginger, lemongrass, and basil. Simmer about 10 minutes, then strain coconut milk into a clean pan. Discard the seasonings.
Simmer shitake mushrooms in coconut milk for about 5 minutes.
Stir in fish sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar. Add curry powder to taste.
Ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with green onions and red pepper flakes.
Some of your guests may prefer more heat...add it with the red chili powder.

1 comment:

  1. You're right. Fish sauce is not vegan - or vegetarian for that matter. My apology for this oversight. There are commercially produced vegan fish sauces available at Asian markets. Or, you can create your own substitute using a kelp/soy sauce mixture, or a mushroom stock/soy sauce mixture.

    Thanks for pointing this out.