I guess that having that night I talked about earlier with my sister, the night where we Thai’ed it up for the boys, definitely inspired me to bury my head into Thai cookbooks to learn a thing or two. There is something about cooking food you know your mom, grandma, great grandma made in the most homey of ways…it’s just very cool to me.
One of my earliest childhood memories (I have very few for some reason, and no, I didn’t really have a traumatic childhood, my brain just sucks), is seeing this book on our bookshelf or kitchen table constantly. My parents just recently shipped it to me from Thailand — although it quite possiblycould have been sent 4 years ago…who knows with that mail system. Anyhoo, I took the afternoon off yesterday (ha. who are we kidding) to read it. A must-have if you love Thai food. I cannot believe I didn’t read it earlier. The first quarter of it is explaining Thai flavors and culture and it is just…highly interesting. But I’ll stop, just trust me…read it.
Annnnnyhow, let’s get to the good stuff. After flipping through the book, I decided to go with tom yum goong — a hot and sour shrimp (in this case) soup with crazy bursts of spiciness and lemongrass. It is one of my most favorite things in the entire world, and over rice, it is just heaven. I’m kind of a brat about it…I grew up on it being almost solid red and full of flavor and I’m a little irritated when a restaurant serves it to me in a clear, fishy broth. So a perfect choice. Now I could make my own, with adjustments, and not be a whiney bitch about it. Hooray!
For the main, I went with a baked whole snapper with galic chili sauce. I had this vision of serving an entire snapper in foil, with sauce just oozing everywhere. Then I would put veggies all around the foil and it. would. be. delicious. And it was. I keep saying this lately but it is definitely up there on my “shit that didn’t fail and was amazing” list.
I know it all kinda sounds daunting (or does it? it did to me) but it was ALL surprisingly simple. So many of you made the stuffed bell pepper recipe and sent me photos (love when you do that, seriously) and I really hope this one doesn’t scare you too bad. It is SO full of flavor.
I won’t pretend like these are my recipes in any way. But I WILL tell you that they are great recipes and worth trying. So enjoy the photos and the link for the recipes is at the end. Will share my changes in the captions but truthfully, there were very few.
Aaaah lemongrass. The recipe calls for 2 big sticks of it, but I did a little bit more. Don’t worry about being perfectly correct with this recipe– it’s all to taste. even when it tells me to cut things a certain way, I do it my own way since it’s all about flavor. Just remember not to chew all the big pieces of lemongrass or galangal or kaffir leaves in the final product :) I think it’s beautiful to have whole pieces in the broth rather than chopping everything up.
Your basic tom yum shrimp grocery list. Lemongrass, thai chillies, lime, kaffir lime leaves, galangal (I could only find dried), fish sauce, chili paste, sugar and shrimp. Be prepared to search everywhere for lime leaves and galangal, if you aren’t lucky enough to be around a Thai Town or basic asian market. Also, it says “optional” but any asian market will have something called “tom yum paste” and if they do, GET IT. A tablespoon (or more, if you’re like me) added to the recipe will make this fool-proof and full of flavor.
I also had kind of a hard time finding head-on shrimp. I had to go to stupid Dean and Deluca (I love it. It’s just touristy, expensive, crazy madness) just to get 5 of em. Heads are full of flavor and more than necessary for this recipe.
So there you have it. The recipe I used is here. I basically took that recipe and added a tinnnnny bit more of everything because I like “get-to-the-point” flavor. God, the internet is fabulous, right? I typed it in, looked for great reviews, and had one of the best soups of my life.
And you know what? This soup deserves it’s own post. Snapper recipe coming up in the next one :) Enjoy!