Tweedlebud Kelsey's Thai Coconut Curry Soup

September 13, 2013

Hi Tweedle fans. You're probably hoping for a post from the lovely Miss Tweedle, but she's busy with Baby Tweedle, so instead you're stuck with me, Kelsey!

A few months ago I ate at one of my favourite hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Calgary, Alta., called Delicious Thai. The decor leaves a little to be desired, but this family-run restaurant in the trendy Kensington neighbourhood lives up to its moniker, serving tasty Thai food and cold, crisp Asian beer.

Since my last visit, the taste of the restaurant's coconut soup had been lingering in my frequent foodie thoughts. I devoured a bowl after being soaked by cold rain on a bike ride, so the warm meal had that deadly effect that comes from amazing taste combined with a comforting memory. For the past month it has been way too hot in Calgary to think about making soup, but last week it rained, so I decided to make my favourite dish from Delicious Thai's menu. My hope of convincing the chef to share his recipe for the dreamy broth was quickly crushed by this paragraph on the restaurant's website,

“Each Thai dish has several secret recipes depening on how the chef design the ingredient to be put in the food. Some of traditional cooking style and recipes has been tought for years, from one generation to another, from grandma to mom, from mom to daughter and these cooking styles are different, but the essential on how to make the food "delicious" is secret.”
With no hope of stealing closely guarded knowledge that has been “tought for years,” I turned to Google in search of a similar recipe. Ten recipes and an hour later, I was no closer to unlocking the soup's secret. At this point I felt a little ridiculous, like some sort of culinary knight trying to find an elusive princess, so I gave up the hunt and decided to combine the best parts of the recipes I'd read with a few things I thought would taste good and create my own concoction. After totally winging it in the kitchen I was a little wary of the first bite, but I have to say, it was delicious. Take that, multi-generational soup secret! I will be making this a permanent fixture in my recipe book.
Here is my recipe, as best as I can remember it. It makes enough for four medium-sized bowls of soup. For those who don't cook outside of the pages of their Canadian cookbooks very often, don't be worried by the ingredients you can't find at the local grocery store. They can be substituted or eliminated, and it will still taste great (I've now made this twice, and the second time I forgot to buy three ingredients. Still yummy). This is a recipe where precise measurements aren't all that important – use more of something if you like eating it!
You will need:
- 1/2 yellow onion
- Mushrooms, chopped (I used Asian enoki mushrooms, which add a rich, nutty flavour. They are long-stemmed but dainty, and kind of look like mushroom sprouts)
- Red pepper, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Red curry paste (for medium spice, add one heaping tablespoon. Adjust as desired)
- 1 can of coconut milk (if you like it extra-creamy, use more. I combined one large can and one small can)
- Half (ish) a box of liquid chicken stock
- 4-6 lemongrass stalks, halved lengthwise
- 1-3 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- Kaffir lime leaves (I've yet to add these, but I bet they would be an amazing addition)
- Jasmine rice, or substitute with quinoa or rice noodles
- Spinach
- Fresh or thawed fish fillets of any type of white fish. I used plain 'ol talapia.
- Cilantro
- Lime
- Crushed peanuts
  1. In a large pan deep enough to hold multiple cups of liquid, heat a tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms and pepper, and cook just long enough to soften. These will continue to soften in the broth for 15-20 minutes later on, so be sure not to cook them fully. Just as the veggies are getting to where you want them, add the crushed garlic and curry paste and cook for one minute more.
  2. Next, add the coconut milk and enough chicken broth to make quite a runny looking soup, and stir until combined. This will reduce, so it should appear more runny than you would serve it. Throw in the lemongrass stalks and kaffir lime leaves (these will later need to be removed before serving), and add the grated ginger.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium-low and allow the broth to simmer and reduce for 15-20 minutes without a lid. The flavour from the lemongrass, lime leaves and ginger will infuse the milk and stock with great flavour. Add a little salt and pepper.
  4. While the mixture is simmering, cook enough Jasmine rice to put in the bottom of each bowl.
  5. Once the soup has the desired consistency and is nice and hot, add the fish to the broth so it is completely submerged, and put a lid on the pot. Let the fish poach until cooked (5-10 mins?).
  6. Line up bowls on the counter, and place a healthy handful of spinach leaves on the bottom, followed by a few scoops of Jasmine rice.
  7. Before spooning the broth over top, remove the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, and add as much chopped cilantro to the soup as you like. The heat will cook it just slightly, but not enough to be wilted. Next, spoon the broth and fish mixture into each bowl.
  8. Garnish with a lime wedge for squeezing on top, crushed peanuts for crunch, and extra cilantro if you're a fan. Make sure you get a little rice and spinach with your first spoonful. Enjoy!

I hope this soup transports you to Thailand, if only for a minute!


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