Monday, April 26, 2010

Surprise! More Thai: Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup

I thought I was over the Thai food kick. I really did. And then what happens? Mom comes to town. One of the favorite things my mom and I like to do when she visits is to take in a cooking demonstration at The Culinary Institute of America's Greystone campus in St. Helena. This past weekend, lo and behold, their demonstration happened to feature Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup. Ironically, a noodle soup is the one thing I have failed to feature on this blog of all the recipes I fell in love with when in Thailand - I have a fantastic recipe that I had actually wanted to share, but just never got around to it.

CIA to the rescue, problem solved.

The demonstration was conducted by CIA Chef Harold Imbrunetti, who was a lot of fun and took vast liberties to the written recipe that was handed out (man after my own heart). But not to worry - I took good notes, and the recipe below is true to what Chef Imbrunetti actually made. It's dee-lish, and very true to the noodle soups I ate while in Thailand.

You can adjust the heat to suit your tastes; keep in mind that the Thai bird chilies are extremely hot. He used two in the dish for the demo, and it was delightfully spicy (too spicy for some of the attendees - wimps!). So start with one chili and add more if you're a fan of the heat. You can also substitute any other kind of chili (jalepenos, serranos, etc.) if you can't find the Thai variety. Happy slurping!

Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup
The Culinary Institute of America

Yield: 8 servings

  • 1 pound shrimp (30-35 count), peeled, deveined, butterflied (retain shells)
  • 4 ounces vermicelli (rice noodles)
  • 4 quarts unsalted chicken stock
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin (use a microplane for thin, even slices)
  • 1x1-inch piece of galangal root, cut into coins and smashed
  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, split in half and cut into 2-inch lengths and bruised
  • 1/3 cup nam pla (fish sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek (chili paste)
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 1-2 Thai bird chilies, sliced thin
  • 1 15-ounce can straw mushrooms, drained, rinsed and halved
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced (plus extra sprigs for garnish)
For this recipe, you'll need two different pots: an 8-quart stock pot and a smaller soup pot. Place 3 quarts of the chicken stock into the large pot; bring to a simmer. At the same time, place the remaining 1 quart of chicken stock in the smaller pot and also bring to a simmer. To the smaller pot, add the shrimp shells, lemongrass and galangal; simmer for 15 minutes. To the large pot, add the sliced garlic, chili paste and mushrooms.

After both pots have simmered for 15 minutes, transfer the contents of the small pot to the large pot through a mesh strainer, removing the shrimp shells, lemongrass and galangal. Add the vermicelli; let the noodles cook for five minutes or until cooked. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients (shrimp, fish sauce, lime zest/juice, cilantro); it will only take about a minute for the shrimp to cook.

Portion into bowls and garnish with fresh sprigs of cilantro.

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