It’s time to talk about soup, kittens. Melbourne’s weather has once again turned into a European winter, just minus the snow and the fantastic European insulation.
Tom yum and I go way back. Oh yeah. As a wee kid my mum would joke that my love for the hot and sour soup started in her belly, when she regularly succumbed to her cravings by meandering down to China Town in Sydney for a steaming bowl of hot Thai goodness. Tom yum is my number one thing I will order at a Thai restaurant, but more often than not I’ll end up throwing one together at home when I can’t bother making something too lengthy and extravagant for myself. I’ve got a minor crush going for this soup, not only because it’s easy, but because it’s so versatile. Add some baby sweet corn or a few sliced snap peas,or if you’re feeling a bit mild, replace some of the water with coconut milk to make a tom ka.
Now you may have noticed that I omit the “goong” at the end of tom yum. Goong translated means prawns. And I hate them dearly. Often you can get chicken instead, or tofu if you ask nicely. I go vego all the way, mainly because I don’t tend to have a chicken waiting for me in the fridge. To make up for the missing prawn or chicken flavour, I add shitake mushrooms and a spoonful of miso. Umami all the way darling. Chuck in some noodles at the beginning of the cooking time, or have it with rice.
Miso Tom Yum
Makes 1 serving
1 Tbsp sliced dried shitake mushrooms
1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
1 spring onion, sliced thinly
5 cm lemongrass, bashed with the back of a knife
2 kaffir lime leaves, bruised
3 cherry tomatoes, sliced thinly
3 thin slices galangal, or ginger if you cant find it, bruised
2 coriander roots including stalks, bruised (if you don’t have roots, just use a small bunch of stalks)
1 small red chilli, sliced finely
½ lime, halved
½ tsp vegetable stock powder
50g fried tofu, diced
1 Tbsp light miso paste
dash of soy sauce
small handful fresh coriander leaves
rice, to serve
Place the shitake mushroom slices in a small bowl and add a dash of hot water to soften. Alternatively, slice 2 button mushrooms very thinly and use in the next step.
Combine the soaked and softened mushrooms with their liquid, the garlic, spring onion, lemongrass, lime leaves, cherry tomatoes, galangal, and coriander roots to a small saucepan and cover with 300ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for about 4 minutes, or until the tomatoes are mushy. While the soup is simmering away, you can decide how much chilli you want to add. Start with a few rings, you can always add more. Add the juice of ¼ lime and the vegetable stock powder. We only add this much because the miso is going to be quite salty. Now, once the cherry tomatoes are how they should be, add the tofu and bring to the boil again, until everything is heated through. Remove from the flame and add the miso. I usually mix it with a bit of the soup in a small bowl so it doesn’t go lumpy. Now, have a taste. Does it need more salt? Add a dash of soy sauce. Maybe some more acidity? Add the rest of the lime. Pour into a bowl and top with the coriander leaves.
Yay! Your tom yum is done! Serve with rice or whatever starchy accompaniment you feel is right.
Remember you can’t really eat the kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, coriander roots, or galangal. You’re welcome to give it a try but I doubt it would be very enjoyable.