Monday, September 07, 2015

Tom Ka with Tofu (or Tom Yam) Soup: The Perfect Fix for Flu Season, with Variations

When I went to Thailand and had this soup for the first time I think my whole world just flipped right over on me all at once--it was the most remarkable taste experience ever. The flavors just blew me away--piquant, sour, spicy, rich, amazing! You have to try it. And you can easily make either Tom Yam or Tom Ka with a simple substitution. This soup is simple to make, but what's tricky is having the ingredients on hand. Because I love this so much, I stockpile fish sauce, coconut milk and dried shiitake mushrooms (although the original calls for straw mushrooms). My hubby grows lemongrass in the garden year-round, and we have a lime tree that contributes a leaf here and there. You can make this without lime leaf and lemongrass, but add some lime zest to substitute. I think you are going to love this special and wonderful soup--one of the great wonders of the culinary world! And a quick fix when you feel yourself coming down with a flu bug. Nothing clears your head like the piquant vapors of this magical soup. 

Tom Ka Gung with Variations

  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 (12 ounce) can coconut cream (Not the reduced fat kind. Fat makes it taste DELICIOUS!)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I use the chicken stock paste that comes in little jars, Better Than Bouillon brand. It has no MSG and is all-natural. Plus, stored in the fridge, it lasts a LONG time.)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 sprigs lemongrass, root (two inch sprigs, chopped into tiny slices)
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf (or other lime leaf, tossed in whole--like bay leaves, you just fish them out before serving) (optional)
  • 1 lime, juice of
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, or 2 medium tomatoes, diced--with juices
  • 4 garlic cloves (or more depending on your preference)
  • 1 (19 ounce) package silken tofu, drained and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup shrimp (optional)
  • 1 cup mushrooms (Any kind, such as white, shiitake, portobello, straw, white, etc. I mostly use shiitake because I keep a giant container on hand, but the most authentic is straw mushrooms, which you can find canned in the Asian section of grocery stores.)
  • 1 tablespoon red chili paste (I like Sriracha brand. Add more to taste. If serving to kids--my five-year-old likes this soup--then add ketchup instead. A small amount of ketchup tastes good--trust me!)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root (Thai recipes call for galanga, but it's tricky to find--ginger root works fine instead)


Garnishes

  • Chopped cilantro
  • Thai basil, for garnish
  • Hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha
  • Diced hot chili peppers

  1. Add the coconut milk, chicken stock, and water to a heavy put, and begin to simmer while adding the other ingredients (except for garnishes and shrimp or other fish).
  2. After the spices have "relaxed," add either the shrimp or chunks of salmon and stir only until cooked (two or three minutes).
  3. Garnish and serve.

Variations


Vegetarian Soup Instead

* To make this soup vegetarian, substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock, and leave off the prawns. You've already got tofu, so that's a great protein source. Lastly, if fish sauce is a no-no, then substitute Bragg's Amino Acids (like soy sauce).

Tom Yam Instead

* To make Tom Yam instead of Tom Ka, do everything the same, except substitute more chicken stock to replace the coconut cream.