My dear followers, the last time I wrote I mentioned that September is normally busy. Busy it has been! So I’ve missed a few weeks. I’ve missed writing, but enjoyed the distraction that has kept me away.
Life is always busy, when it gets really crazy my mind spins at dinner time and I need to remind myself of all my favourite super easy, super yum meals. This is my version of the classic Thai, Tom Yum soup. It is flavour packed, healthy and ready in less then 30-minutes.
I love Asian food so I keep a pantry of different asian sauces, vinegars, oils, spices and coconut (in many forms;). I’ve found most of the thai sauces and spices at my local large grocer — but a trip to an authentic Asian grocer is always an adventure. I understand not everyone wants a cupboard full of items that will rarely be used so I’ve included some easy-to-find substitutions and quick recipe ideas that will use up some of the leftover ingredients.
3 cups stock (low sodium if possible) or water
1 can coconut milk (about 1-1/2 cups)
About 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons of fish sauce*
1 teaspoon asian chili paste such as sambal oelek
(don’t mistake sweet chili sauce for chili paste which is unsweetened crushed chilis – occasionally made with vinegar and garlic)
1-1/2 tablespoon hoisen sauce**
1 tablespoon each of green thai curry paste and red thai curry paste***
1/2 teaspoon honey
4 – 10cm sticks of lemongrass bruised to release flavour
5 pieces of galangal or 3 thumb size pieces of ginger cut in strips bruised
6 kaffir lime leaves bruised**** or zest from two limes
12 shitaki mushrooms
1 red pepper
100 grams vermicelli rice noodles
1 brick (about 250 grams) organic, non-gmo extra firm tofu – I use Wild Wood Organics sprouted tofu which is more nutrient dense and easier to digest then regular tofu.
(Substitute tofu for 12 medium de-veined shrimp)
Fresh coriander for garnish
Bring the stock, lemongrass, kaffir/lime zest, galangal/ginger, fish sauce, chilli sauce, hoisin and curry pastes to a gentle boil for 5-minutes. Meanwhile julienne your carrot and mushrooms, chop your read pepper, and cut the tofu into about 1.5 cm cubes. Reduce the liquid to a simmer and add the vegetables, tofu and coconut milk, and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add the lemon juice in the last 5 minutes, and adjust flavours as needed. If you like a lot of spice add some extra chilli paste. If you used water instead of stock you may want a little salt. Add the vermicelli in the last 2 minutes. To serve, divide the noodles between 4 bowls and then add the broth and vegetables. Remove the lemongrass stock s and kaffir lime leaves. Garnished with fresh cilantro.
* Fish sauce is an ingredient that is hard to substitute. It’s used prolifically in asian cuisine but it doesn’t have many uses outside of asian cuisine. Many brands come in huge bottles that would take years to use up 1 tablespoon at a time. Look for a small size like Thai Kitchen .
** Use hoisin as a simple sauce to add flavour to steamed veggies or combine 1 tablespoon of nut butter with 4 tablespoons of hoisin and a splash of sherry for an easy stir fry sauce.
*** Try 1 tablespoon of either green or red paste mixed with 1 cup of coconut milk, stir fried with chicken and broccoli, and served over brown rice.
**** Kaffir adds a distinct flavour that is hard to duplicate so its worth buying if you can find it. That said, it’s a bit hard to find. If you do come across some, it will freeze really well for several month. Fresh or dried will do. Try is as a substitute for lime zest to add an Asian flavour to other dishes.