Tom Yum Soup with Bonus Tutorial

I’ve been wanting to make Tom Yum soup, a tasty and fragrant Thai soup, for a long time. Tom Yum is one of my favorite soups and an awesome comfort food. The flavor is complex, sour, and spicy, and is as good in summer as it is in winter. Last week, I got galangal through the farmer’s market (Red Hills Online is the one I use–you order and prepay, then just go pick your produce up. It’s magical). Galangal is a root that looks sort of like ginger, but has a different flavor and more of a bite rather than ginger’s warm spiciness. If you don’t have it in your area, you may be able to find it dried. To make my soup, I followed the order this site uses to add the ingredients, but measured as I went along. I also left the shells on the shrimp when I cooked them, as this adds extra flavor to the broth. I’ve met quite a few people who don’t know how to devein shrimp with the shells on, so I’ve made a photo tutorial for you at the end of the post. In my research I’ve found tons of variations, so this soup can be used for the basis of many tasty experiments!

Tom Yum Soup

4 c homemade chicken stock
2 stalks lemongrass
1 medium-sized knob of fresh galangal
5-6 kaffir lime leaves (fresh ones are best, but if you don’t have them, substitute jarred or dried)
2 small shallots
1 tsp sea salt
1-2 tbsp sweet roasted chili paste (I didn’t have chili paste, so I used fermented cayenne sauce instead)
4 tbsp Thai fish sauce (I use this one–A shout out to Two in Tally for telling me about it!)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pint crimini mushrooms
1/2-1 lb shrimp, deveined (see tutorial below)
1 small bunch fresh cilantro (about 3 tbsp of chopped leaves)
lime wedges and fresh chilis for garnish

-Heat the stock over medium heat until simmering. Add 1 tsp sea salt (if desired).
-Lay the lemongrass on a cutting board and hit (not *too* hard) with the back of a knife to release the flavor. Cut into two-inch pieces, and add to stock.
-Peel the galangal with a spoon, slice into 1/4-inch pieces, and add to the broth.
-Tear the kaffir lime leaves into about 4-6 pieces each and add to the broth.
-Peel and thinly slice the shallots, and throw into the pot.
-Add your chili paste (or cayenne sauce if you’re me) and stir.
-Add fish sauce.
-Quarter the tomatoes and mushrooms, and add to the broth.
-Chop the cilantro, and add to the pot.
-After you’ve deveined your shrimp, add them to the broth and turn off the heat. Let sit for 2 1/2 – 3 minutes.
-Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with fresh-sliced peppers (I used fresh cayenne peppers) and a squeeze of lime juice.

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Bonus Tutorial (!): Deveining shrimp in their shells
The ‘vein’ in a shrimp is actually a part of the digestive tract, and is filled with grit that is not too fun to eat. Thankfully, taking the vein out is easy, and it’s as easy to do with the shell on as it is to do with shelled shrimp. Don’t laugh too much at the photos, it’s hard to photograph one-handed while cooking!

Step One: Slice down the back with kitchen shears. Make sure to go down the middle, where you would normally take the vein out.
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Step Two: Hold the legs together and press so that the back of the shrimp spreads apart and you can see the vein.
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Step Three: Using a knife with a thin blade, slide the point under the vein and lift to remove. Pull with your fingers and discard.
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Preserved Tangerines Three Ways

From left to right: Peppery tangerines, chai spiced, and herbed.

Here in Florida, you stumble across tasty winter citrus every time you go shopping. The last time I went to get produce at Tomatoland (kind of like a permanent farm stand/small grocery store), there were big stacks of tangerines calling my name. I bought dozens of them, thinking I would make some marmalade, but I’m still eating up my last batch of marmalade and wanted to do something a bit different. I always have preserved lemons in my fridge: when I’m almost out I just toss some more together and wait a few weeks. Usually I just add salt and sliced lemons to a jar, but I’ve been wanting to add spices. These tangerines provided the perfect opportunity to experiment! I had grand plans for waiting to post this until the tangerines are done preserving (it does take several weeks), but I felt eager to share the fruits of my labor while there’s still plenty of time to use in-season citrus. Given how easy it is to make these things, they’re pretty much guaranteed to turn out well, so that makes it a little easier to share now too. A couple notes here: you don’t have to be a slave to the measuring spoon with these. I usually just add a layer of citrus and sprinkle on salt (and herbs and spices, if I’m using them) between each layer. As I add a new layer of citrus, I press them down before sprinkling with salt. Basically the process looks like this:
Slice citrus into wedges, salt bottom of jar. Add a layer of wedges, press, sprinkle with salt. Add another layer, press, salt, and repeat until your jar is full. Honestly, I have never measured the salt and they turn out fine. Just make sure you are  salting and packing them tightly so that your citrus releases its juices. Then, leave the jars somewhere cool and dark for a month, shaking them when you think about it. Keep an eye on them the first few days, though: if they haven’t released enough juice to cover the fruit, add some more freshly squeezed juice to the jars and re-cover. After 3-4 weeks, you’ll have soft, yummy citrus you can add to just about anything, plus delicious brine that makes great dressings and sauces!

Chai Spiced Tangerines
I always have this spice mixture around, too. If you go to the link, you’ll find the proprotions of the spices to use (make sure to toast them first!), and you can use them in chai syrup or blend the dry spices with tea. I use them to flavor sauces and desserts too. These tangerines would be good in sweet and savory applications: I could see them going well in a rice dish with lots of raisins and toasted nuts, or sliced and put on top of a chocolate cake.
For this recipe, makes sure your spices cool completely after toasting. You can leave the toasted spices whole or you can grind them in a spice grinder. I made mine a couple days ago and ground them, so I went with the ground spices. I used about 2 1/2 tbsp of the ground spices for a pint of preserved tangerines. I also used sea salt in this and the other recipes because I like it’s clear, briny flavor best. You can also use kosher salt if you feel so inclined, but you may have to adjust the amount.

1/4 c sea salt
2 1/2 tbsp ground chai spices
2-3 tangerines, cut into wedges

-Sprinkle some salt and spices in the bottom of a pint jar.
-Add a layer of tangerine wedges and press.
-Top with another layer of salt and spices.
-Add another layer of tangerine wedges, press, and top with salt and spices.
-Continue this process until your jar is full.
-Screw the lid on tightly and shake the jar.
-Store in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks, shaking every few days.

Peppery Tangerines
These tangerines use spices that I see in a lot of recipes for preserved lemons, which means I’ll be substituting them in recipes where spiced, preserved lemons are used (Moroccan cooking, for example). There are plenty of examples over at Punk Domestics to provide inspiration!

1/4 c sea salt
2 small bay leaves
1 dried cayenne pepper, halved (you could substitute other peppers here: guajillo peppers, for example, would make for a nice smoky addition)
1 tsp peppercorns (I had tricolored peppercorns, but you can use black peppercorns or whatever ones you have around)

-Sprinkle some salt in the bottom of a pint jar and add the cayenne pepper.
-Add a layer of tangerine wedges and press.
-Add bay leaves.
-Top with another layer of salt.
-Add peppercorns.
-Add another layer of tangerine wedges, press, and top with salt.
-Continue this process until your jar is full.
-Screw the lid on tightly and shake the jar.
-Store in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks, shaking every few days.

Herbed Tangerines
The flavors I used here remind me of the flavors found in foods from Provence. I’m planning on using these tangerines to spice up French dishes and to flavor roasted chicken.

1/4 c sea salt
1/2 whole nutmeg nut (I had one that I had partially used for grating, if you only have a whole nut you can just use that and rough up the surface so it releases its flavor).
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tsp lavender flowers

-Sprinkle some salt in the bottom of a pint jar and add the nutmeg.
-Add a layer of tangerine wedges and press.
-Add rosemary sprig.
-Top with another layer of salt.
-Add lavender.
-Add another layer of tangerine wedges, press, and top with salt.
-Continue this process until your jar is full.
-Screw the lid on tightly and shake the jar.
-Store in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks, shaking every few days.

This recipe is on Punk Domestics!

Preserved Tangerines Three Ways on Punk Domestics