Dtom Yum Gkoong (Hot and Sour Prawn Soup)

These are very hot little firecrackers from the orient. They can be used to add spice to almost any oriental dish. They dry very easily and can be stored and used this way for a long time.

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1/2 pound prawns, shells removed and butterflied (save shells for soup stock)
2-3 stalks fresh lemon grass
3 cups water, or mild soup stock, salted with fish sauce (nahm bplah) to the desired saltiness
6 thin slices fresh galanga** (kah), or 2 dried pieces
3 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves
8-10 whole Thai chiles, stems removed and bruised with the back of a cleaver
1/2 a small onion, halved again and sliced crosswise 1/4″ thick
1-2 Tbsp. roasted chile paste
3-4 Tbsp. tamarind liquid (see tamarind recipes)
1 cup fresh brown mushrooms, sliced into 1/4″ slices
2 green onions, cut in thin rounds
juice of 1-2 limes, to desired sourness
1/2 cup cilantro leaves or short cilantro sprigs

Cut the bottom tip off the lemon grass stalks and discard the loose outer layer(s). Then cut each stalk into 1″ sections at a slanted diagonal all the way up to the greener end, near the start of the grass blades, exposing the inner core. Smash each piece with the side of a cleaver or the end of a large knife handle to bruise, releasing the aromatic oils. Place the cut lemon grass along with the prawn or shrimp shells and the water or stock in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer with a lid on for 15-20 minutes to draw out the flavors. Strain out the shrimp shells and some of the lemon grass.

Add the sliced galanga, kaffir lime leaves, bruised Thai chiles and sliced onion. Simmer a couple of minutes, then add the roasted chile paste (nahmm prik pow), the tamarind liquid and the fresh brown mushrooms. Heat the stock to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomato wedges (if using), green onions and prawns or shrimps. After 20-30 seconds, turn off the heat and add lime juice to the desired sourness and the cilantro. Do not let the prawns or shrimps overcook. Serve immediately.

galanga** is a robustly pungent member of the ginger family is the primary ginger used in Thai cooking and is, therefore, sometimes referred to as “Siamese ginger.” It is readily available in most Asian markets.

Recipe from www.thaifoodandtravel.com.