It's beginning to get hot out here in Sacramento, and there's few better meals for dry n' scorching weather then fresh Thai soup. The rendition offered in the Cooking Club cookbook looked pretty choice to me, so I picked up some nice looking tiger shrimp and some slightly more esoteric ingredients and gave it a shot.
You will need (for 4 servings):
6 oz dried rice noodles
2 stalks fresh lemongrass
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
An inch of ginger or galangal, sliced
4 kaffir lime leaves if you can find em', 4 tsp lime zest if you can't
1-3 Thai red chilis, depending on your preference
Salt (no duh)
1 to 1 and a half lbs shrimp, shells on
1 quart chicken stock
Button mushrooms (1 cup)
1 cup baby bok choy
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup tamarind paste/concentrate
Juice of one lime
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup cilantro (if you like it)
1/2 cup fresh Thai basil (necessity)
You'll need to acquire some Thai ingredients for the broth. Collect your shallots, ginger, kaffir lime, and lemon-grass. Bruise the cut lemongrass first.
You'll want to get yourself some shrimp - I used about a pound for two people and had plenty left over. Remember to get shell on shrimps.
Here's the important part: keep the shells when you peel the shrimp. You're going to use the shells to make the shrimp stock which, when cooked for a while, will infuse the broth with an addictive and tangy flavor. I am rather mortified that I did not realize the delicious utility of the humble shrimp shell sooner.
Heat some oil (I used olive, I don't think that ends the universe or anything) and toss in your magical shrimp shells, your garlic, shallot, lemongrass, galangal or ginger, kaffir lime, chili peppers, and salt. Saute for four minutes and stir frequently because burned shrimp shells are a tragedy against mankind and also sorta icky.
Toss in your chicken broth, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer this beeyotch for 20 minutes, skimming off the foam on occasion. While you're at, boil your rice noodles in a separate pot.
Once 20 minutes are up and the broth is attaining some margin of deliciousness, you'll need to strain it, unless you find consuming shrimp shells delicious and stimulating - we won't judge you. Strain the broth and return it to the pot. Now, add the mushrooms and the bok choy (and whatever other veggies you may be using) and cook for two minutes.
Next, add the tamarind, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and shrimp. Stir well and cook for two more minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and delectable. Turn the heat off, dole out rice noodles for each bowl, and pour the soup over them.
Serve the soup with fresh basil and mint, to be ripped up and dumped into the broth as suits personal taste. Fresh bean sprouts are another crunchy and refreshing touch. I like to add hoisin sauce and additional fish sauce to my soup, as well as some hot sauce: put out some condiments and let the people decide for themselves, you patriot, you.