December 20, 2009

Tom Kha Soup

I love that my huge family has a huge appreciation for food. For my sister's wedding in November - which was absolutely beautiful - we were in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic at an all inclusive resort. That means ALL YOU CAN EAT. Let me say that again - AYCE. For the Hung family, that's pretty much perfect. Ha! Not only did we always get together to eat - from larger servings that what should be allowed to snacking on plantain chips every time we were at the pool to having far more than the three meals per day - we took pictures of all the food consumed. I will share those shortly.
We also don't take no for an answer when trying to make you eat something that is just so good but you think you are too full. Really, you are never too full. Each night after eating dinner, we take a quick peak at the night buffet by the beach to see what they were serving that night. I anxiously waited for the delicious nutella cake each night while my cousin went for the main course. One night when we claimed we were absolutely beyond stuffed (actually, this is the same comment we made after every meal...sigh), she saw a mushroom risotto that was just too appetizing to pass up. I heard her say, wow, they have risotto, it looks so good, I think I may get a spoonful. When she came back to our table - that spoonful turned into a large bowl that she undoubtly forced all of us to eat. Damn her!
I digress....talking about food and family pretty much go hand in hand. Anyways, we talk about food as much as we eat. Cousin Nat told me she had a perfect recipe for Tom Kha Soup, which has multiple ingredients I've never heard of or knew where to get. When she shared the recipe, I thought galgangal looks like ginger, perfect, I'll substitute! Ha, then I read and researched a little more to find that you really can't do since there is no other ingredient with galgangal flavor and Tom Kha actually means boiled Galgangal. One of Ross' frequent restaurants in the Heights is Asia Market - half Thai restaurant and grocery store - and they had fresh lemongrass, kaffir (lime) leaves and galgangal. Perfect!
The only thing I would do is cut down on the amount of fish sauce. Start with only a tablespoon and taste test before you add more.

Tom Kha Soup
Need 1 big pot and serves roughly 4-5 people depending how many bowls you eat yourself!
2 cups chicken breast (2 chicken breast)
1 cup tofu cut into small cubes
2 cups chicken stock (1 can)
9 oz can coconut milk
1 cup straw mushroom
3 lemon grass (you want the bottom white part about 6 inces only and cut into 2 inch segments)
8 slices of galgangal (sliced fairly thin)
4 kaffir lime leaves (rip off hard part and then tear each in half to help extract some of the oils)
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 tsp fresh lemon or lime juice
Lightly chopped cilantro (if you want, not absolutely necessary)
1. Take the lemon grass segments and with the back of your knife or something hard, quickly hack the lemongrass to extract the flavor.
2. In a big pot, boil the chicken stock. Once boiling, add the lemongrass, galgangal slices, lime leaves and sugar. Let it cook on medium heat for roughly 10 minutes.
3. Then add the coconut milk and add only one tablespoon of fish sauce. Take a quick taste and if you want more saltiness, add more fish sauce one tablespoon at a time. Put heat to low so soup simmers. If you want to add some red/green chillies here, it adds a little kick.

Next, turn up the heat to medium high and add the mushroom and chicken. Once chicken turns light - 5 minutes - turn off the heat and add the tofu. Add the lemon/lime juice and some sprigs of fresh cilantro on top to complete the dish. Deeee-lish!

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