Monday, 10 July 2017

Thai me up,old school Thai - Tomato lemongrass and chilli soup

summer´s coolest soup
Unless you live in one of the capitals or a big cosmopolitan city,sourcing ingredients to make good Asian food in Europe can still be a bit of a scavenger hunt.
For many people, the major obstacle to preparing this type of cuisine is sourcing the ingredients. 

If one wanted to make Thai food from scratch it can be a bit more difficult to find the necessary ingredients. There are some ingredients in Thai cuisine like coconut cream,coriander,ginger, Thai birds eye chillis, limes and garlic that can be found in most large supermarkets and others that are only available at specialist Thai or Asian stores.
Finding Thai basil for example may be quite difficult if an Asian store is not close by. If you are lucky enough to find it, buy a lot of it and freeze it. The best method to freezing Thai basil is to pulse it in a food processor until it is ‘paste-like’. Then put them in ice cube trays and freeze them. Once frozen, transfer the Thai basil cubes to freezer bags.Likewise kaffir lime leaves,if you find it invest in bags of it.it freezes well and has a long freezer life.With these ingredients I have to travel sixty odd kilometers to a specialist supermarket or pick stuff up when visiting the capital.For those of you who are regular followers of this blog you wil have become aware that I make a lot of my own sauces and pastes-among others Sriracha, ketjap manis, Thai green curry paste.Surprisingly I have also been lucky enough to grow lemongrass and chillis in our garden here at Casa rosada.In the summer, the Portuguese close relative of basil, manjerico is not far distant from Thai basil and can be substituted in Thai dishes.The main physical characteristic is that leaves are much smaller than traditional basil and the fragrance is sweeter.
Last night I cooked a Thai dinner for our guests and started with a chilled tomato lemongrass and chilli soup, my simplified version of Dtom  yam gung in David Thompson´s book "Thai food."My original inspiration came back in the nineties from a soup I ordered at Belair House in Belair Park West Dulwich.I believe this fantastic restaurant is still there.

Tomato lemongrass and chilli soup
This soup serves four
2 sticks of lemongrass
4 whole red chillis
bunch of coriander, leaves and stalks plus extra for garnish
1 large red onion
2 large cloves of garlic
500ml bouillon
600g plum tomatoes chopped 
500ml good quality fish stock for diluting the soup
dash of nam pla,thai fish sauce
60ml good quality tomato puree or passata
Chop the onion,garlic,lemongrass,chillies and coriander( including stalks )
Sweat slowly in 2 tbsp oil until soft.pour int the bouillon and season with salt and pepper.Cook for a further 20 minutes on a simmer.Add the tomatoes.Cook for afurther 15 minutes.The soup will be quite thick and when it has cooled you will need to pass it through a sieve diluting it with the fish stock.Stir through the tomato puree and allow to chill until you are ready to serve it.the soup can be made well in advance and freezes well.

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