Saturday, August 18, 2007

And "Bam", you got'cha Tom Kha...

Lest any of you get the wrong idea, I don't cook everything with lemon juice and olive oil. In fact, just to prove my point, here's a little something in the gray area of what I find acceptable. Normally, I keep a safe distance from pre-packaged and processed foods (especially sauce mixes), but I picked up a few items from Curry Simple when I interned at Food & Wine.

The first one I tried was the Gourmet Coconut Soup or Tom Kha. The package is filled with the soup base and suggests adding chicken or shrimp as well as mushrooms (unspecified, but I would have chosen straw).

One thing you'll learn about me is that I almost never follow a recipe as it's written. No offense to the cook who wrote it, but I just have a habit of tweaking things to my personal taste. I'd probably make a horrible recipe tester... So, in that spirit, I decided to do a seafood medley. I bought a couple tiny squid, some raw shrimp and a white, supposedly mild, Vietnamese fish called
swai that I hadn't heard of before. I also bought some green onions, cilantro and tomatoes for it. Well, that's not entirely true. I bought the tomatoes for something else, but decided to toss them in for a little color and added vegetable-ness. (Yes, I know that's not a word...)

Unfortunately, by the time I got around to making the soup (two days after this shopping trip), the squid had gone bad. How did I know? You ask. The horrible smell. It hit me like a brick wall and I immediately wrapped them back up, tied them up in a plastic bag and dove for the can of air freshener. Luckily, the fish and shrimp passed the sniff test. And, yes, I got my nose up in it pretty well, just to be sure.

The process was simple enough: Add the soup base and an equal amount of water to a pot, bring it to a simmer and add the meats and vegetables. I added the chopped onions first so that they could soften and decided to double the amount of water since the base was fairly concentrated and I wanted a brothy soup. Then I added the chopped tomato sans seeds and the fish, which I cut into one-inch pieces. After a minute, I added the peeled raw shrimp, which need less time to cook. I tossed in the cilantro just before serving so that it stayed fresh.

In the end, the soup tasted good for a pre-packaged product. Now, had it been a powder mix, I might not be saying the same thing. It had the familiar burning in the back of my throat that I always get from Tom Kha soup and it was pleasantly balancd in flavor. I didn't need to adjust the seasoning at all. I did, however, decide I don't like swai fish... Maybe it didn't work with the soup, or maybe it was a little past its prime, but I ended up fishing it out and eating just the shrimp. Oh well. The one filet only cost me $2. Tomorrow, I'm going to try using the left-over broth as a braising liquid for chicken thighs. Don't worry, I'll let you know how it turns out!

1 comment:

Chelle said...

haha I just realized what you titled this entry, and i'm loving it. Come to Chicago, you know how I love me some soup!