GUA kitchen meddler Sr Gregor takes on the ease of soup, with a taste of Thailand.
To some extent, I feel like this is the most cheatery recipe I've done. There's practically no technique to this one, but it's become a bit of a favorite in the household, and to be honest, it's a good basic recipe that you can jump off with in lots of directions. Derived from yet another cooking class at Cook's, Pots and Tabletops
, I turned what was an appetizer ("Thai Coconut Chile Shooters") into a light, but filling, meal.
The base of the meal, the coconut curry soup, is ridiculously easy. You take four cans of coconut milk, one carton of chicken broth, grind in a decent-sized knob of ginger, add a few (3-4) tablespoons of fish sauce, two or three big tablespoons of curry powder and bring it all up a low simmer. Take some kaffir lime leaves and slice them up, cut four of five inch-long chunks of lemongrass (peeling away the outer layer or two) and then quarter them lengthwise, then add a tablespoon or so of lime zest, and bring to a boil for a minute or two before dropping back down to a simmer, and you've got the basics for your soup down pat. Like I said, crazy easy. I added a bit of a spicy kick to this soup by also dolloping in a couple tablespoons of sambal oelek as well.
Side note: kaffir lime leaves are interesting. As a flavor, they're more bitter than tangy. Where they really kick in, though, is as an aromatic herb - despite not really having a tangy flavor, when mixed in with your other herbs and spices, they add a hint of lime without the sharp acidity you might otherwise get. While I don't know if actual lime juice would curdle coconut milk, per se, I suspect I could the leaves in other, more dairy-based, products, and avoid accidentally spoiling the milk.
To bulk this up into a meal, I went with some semi-large shrimp, raw and in the shell. As I've mentioned previously
, there's really no substitute for working with raw shrimp, the precooked stuff turning rubbery fairly quickly. This time around, I did them up very simply: some oil in the pan, a little salt and pepper, then seared once again in the shell. Part of the reason to do this is that the shell adds to the flavor of the meat itself. Another reason is to cook the shrimp without drying out the outer layer, which can cause it to turn rubbery fairly quickly if you're not careful. And, if you're a weirdo like me, sometimes you just like the flavor of the shell. No big.
Like before, we cook on one side until it gets opaque about halfway up the shrimp, pretty much until the edges of the upside of the upper shell started to turn pink, then flip and cook a little more. I didn't quite
cook it all the way through - they went straight from the pan into the pot, so I knew the soup would cook them the rest of the way.
Now, if you wanted, it would easy to stretch out this recipe a bit. You could do some boiled fingerling potatoes, maybe some chunked carrots, perhaps a bit of cauliflower, and turn this into a much bigger meal. Since I'm getting over a bit of a cold, though, heavy just wasn't in the cards of me. So, instead, we boiled up some jasmine rice to serve in it - making it a little more substantial and giving a bit more texture, but not weighing us down any.
The trick to getting a neat little floating rice island is pretty simple: take a ramekin, rub some oil along its inside, the pack in the rice. When you flip it upside down, it should drop out easy-peasy and rest in your soup. Some more sliced up kaffir lime leaf, and a dab of sriracha sauce for a bit more kick and flavor, and you have a nice, late autumn, sore throat-soothing meal.