Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thai food

The second dish we prepared at the Four Seasons Thai Cooking School in Chiang Mai was Thom Yum Goong, Spicy Prawn Soup with Lemongrass. With this, Chef Pitak introduced us to bird's eye chili, Thailand's hottest and a mainstay of Thai cuisine. His recipe called for three of the sweat-producers, but then he ate one raw.

Watching the perspiration pop out on his forehead and tasting the results of three per serving,  I started with one-half, went to one and settled on one and one-half as my upper limit. A native would start with three and add liberally.

How hot was that bird's eye chili, chef?

That's a stalk of lemongrass added for stirring.

Thom Yum Goong, Spicy Prawn Soup with Lemongrass
Serves One

1 TBS good quality fish sauce (narm pla)
1-3 pcs. fresh Bird's Eye Chili (prig kee nu)
1 TBS fresh lime juice
1 1/2 cup prawn stock (make your own by cooking prawn shells and water for 30 minutes).
1 tsp Galangal, skinned and julienned (kha, is from the ginger family but do not use regular ginger)
1 TBS lemongrass, thinly sliced (takrai)
20 grams straw mushrooms, fresh or canned (hed fang, although you can substitute any type of mushroom)
1 pc. Kaffir lime leaf, julienned (bai makrut)
5 prawns, peeled, deveined and butterflied (goong)

coriander leaves (I'm not a fan so I only used one tiny leaf and it wasn't missed)

1. Place the fish sauce, lime juice and lightly crushed bird's eye chili in the soup cup.
2. Heat prawn stock in a wok for 2-3 minutes (if you want a cloudy rather than clear soup, add chili paste and a bit of condensed milk without sugar).
3. Add the lemongrass, mushrooms, galangal and Kaffir lime leaf and bring to a boil.
4. Add the prawns and cook until they turn pink.
5. Garnish with coriander.

See? It isn't all complicated.

NOTE: For more about Chiang Mai and the Four Seasons, g to this post on my other blog, Travel on the Level. 

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