I’m a big fan of soup—especially when the weather is getting colder—and Asian soups in particular because they tend to include a lot of spices and some serious flavor. Take a simple concoction like Tom Yong Gan, a favorite at Thai restaurants, for it’s strong taste of lemon grass, cilantro, and galangal and the meaty morsels of mushroom and shrimp.
Using similar ingredients, this recipe ups the ante on flavor by roasting the reserved shrimp shells along with the shallots and garlic, and adding it back to the broth. Fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, and both fresh and dried chilies make this soup as flavorful as it is aesthetically pleasing.
several fresh coriander roots
24 black peppercorns
6 cups water
1 lb. jumbo shrimp, shelled, deveined, and halved lengthwise, then grilled (shells reserved)
7 shallots, roasted and sliced
5 cloves garlic, roasted and peeled
1/2 cup sliced lemongrass
3 large dried red chilies, roasted and chopped
3 thin slices galangal
3-4 tbsp. fish sauce
3-4 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 cup straw mushrooms
2 tbsp. finely shredded kaffir lime leaves
7 fresh red or green chilies, thinly sliced
1.) Pound together the coriander root and peppercorns to form a paste. Save the coriander leaves for a garnish
2.) Roast shallots garlic and shrimp shells.
3.) Pour the water into a pot and bring to a boil. Stir in the shrimp shells, shallots, lemon grass, chilies, garlic, and galangal and cook for 5 minutes on high. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids. Return the liquid to the pot.
4.) Reduce heat to low and stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, coriander paste, shrimp and mushrooms. Return to a boil. Soup is done when shrimp turn reddish orange.
5.) Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with kaffir lime leaves, fresh chilies, coriander leaves, and chopped scallions (optional).
Makes 2-3 servings.