|Thai Tom Yum (hot & Sour Soup)|
The "chilis in oil" or nam prik pao can be bought in small glass bottles from oriental specialty stores. You can also make your own: NAM PRIK PAO
Heat the oil: add the garlic and shallots and fry briefly, remove from the oil and set aside. Add the chilies and fry until they start to change colour, then remove them and set them aside.
In a mortar and pestle pound the shrimp paste, add the chiles, garlic and shallots, blending each in before adding the next. Then over low heat return all the ingredients to the oil, and fold into a uniform paste.
The resulting thick, slightly oily red/black sauce will keep almost indefinitely. If you wish you can add more fish sauce and/or sugar to get the flavour you want.
NOTE: The fresh chiles should be bruised in a mortar and pestle. The dried chilies should be heated first, then crumbled into the fresh chilies. Beat the lemon grass with the grinder of the mortar and pestle (it's called a 'sa' in Thai, I'm never sure whether it is the mortar or the pestle in English...) or the back of a cleaver.
Heat about 3 cups of water to boiling point, add all the ingredients, and stir constantly until cooked (it doesn't take long for mushrooms, longer for chicken or shrimp, and longest for beef).
VARIATION: Use three cups of thin coconut milk instead of water, the result is tom kha, rather than tom yum...
From: Colonel I. F. K. Philpott
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